Week 12 of EW’s 2011 Summer Movie Body Count continues with Captain America: The First Avenger, in which Chris Evans is transformed from a scrawny wimp into a depilated Nazi-killing hunk. Warning: This post has more SPOILERS than a muscle-car convention. But if you love your country (and/or costumed beefcake), we bet you’ll read it anyway.
In keeping with America’s global image as a non-violent, neutral peacekeeper, Captain America: The First Avenger has zero deaths. Thank you for reading.
Joke! The whole fun of this movie is watching the Cap’n crunch some evil Nazi skulls during WWII. But he’s not the only one who gets in on the action. In fact…
The movie’s first goner comes right at the beginning, when a Norwegian houseboy is mowed over by a giant tank driven by operatives of HYDRA, the super-scary Nazi science army led by the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). After finding the super-powered artifact they were looking for, HYDRA point-blank shoots the Norwegian scientist who was guarding it. Less than 10 minutes in, we’re already two down!
Then the movie takes a little backstory break, leaving us death-free for almost a half hour as Steve Rogers (soon-to-be-known-as Captain America) gets plucked from featherweight obscurity to become a super soldier for the U.S. Army. But no sooner does Steve emerge all buff and brawny then a Nazi spy steals some of the top-secret cell enhancement serum, shooting Stanley Tucci (as an awesomely sarcastic scientist) on his way out. Seriously, as if the Nazis didn’t already have enough crimes under their belt, they go after one of America’s most beloved character actors. Poor form, goose-steppers. Then we get into some real carnage: By my count, the spy’s attempted escape leaves five guards, a shopkeeper, and the getaway-car driver dead. And then, when the Captain finally corners the bad guy, that cowardly Kraut pops a cyanide capsule in his mouth and dies a gross, mouth-foaming death. (Bonus points to the “I can swim!” kid for the best line in the movie.)
Next, the Red Skull turns his amazing bright-blue death ray thingamajig on three Hitler henchmen sent to curb HYDRA’s plan for world domination. Watching this, I couldn’t help wondering: What if he only thought the ray killed people, when actually it just shrank them down to microscopic size à la Honey I Shrunk the Kids? I guess that’s another movie.
The next big blood bath comes when the Cap braves the Nazi POW camp to save his buddy Bucky. The whole escape sequence happens in a burst of gunfire and tank explosions and shield swipes, so forgive me if the count gets a little wonky. But I’ll do my best: Three of the American escapees and about nine Nazi guards get shot dead in the first few minutes. Then the French dude blows up that truck, but we won’t count those deaths because we can’t see them. Then you’ve got the Nazi killed by the sniper and two more Nazis picked off while Red Skull and Dr. Zola (Toby Jones) chat. Then there’s the pretty awesome execution of one Nazi soldier who dares to tell Red Skull, “We fought to the last man.” Red Skull’s reply? “Evidently not.” BOOM.
Blah blah blah, plot exposition, romance, yada yada yada…. And we’re on a train, zooming through whatever mountains those were, with the Cap zip-lining onboard to take care of business with Bucky at his side. Two Nazis bite it, but then Bucky does too when he tragically falls off the train. Kinda hard to take any death seriously when the guy’s name is Bucky, but this one really hits the Cap’n hard.
Then we come to the climactic fight scene, with Captain America leading his troops into HYDRA’s super-secret headquarters. I suppose I should clarify here that I’m not counting all the Nazis who get conked by the Captain’s super-sweet Vibranium shield. Yes, I agree that getting whacked in the head by a metal plate by a ‘roided-out super-soldier would probably kill most people, but we really can’t say with much certainty that those guys are dead and not just shocked or unconscious or blinded by his manly beauty. So we’re not counting those. But don’t worry – there are still plenty of cadavers to go around.
Six Nazis get shot in the motorcycle chase on the way over, another six when reinforcements come in through the window, and then… Well, here’s where it gets a little fuzzy. The whole sequence – Captain America & Co. desperately trying to stop Red Skull from launching his super-powered missiles at American cities – is so fast and furiously bloody that there’s no real way of keeping track of who got killed or how. My notes on this scene look less like coherent tally marks than like John Nash’s dorm window in A Beautiful Mind. Literally, here’s what I’ve got (I split into HYDRA/US groups to keep things easy): HYDRA – 6 x 3 shot, neck break? Thrown to death! WHOA (<—I actually wrote this.) US — 3, 10, 6, 3, 6, 10, 5. Guns! Flames! Tank. [Illegible word that looks like “PANTS”]. So, you know, sorry about that. But let’s put a safe estimate at around… 63.
Then we’re on the plane, with the Skull headed on a deadly mission to the States and Captain America as our only hope of survival. One guard gets full-on stabbed, then two more fall out of hatches to their deaths. Then there’s the fatality that got the biggest applause of the whole movie, when the Nazi pilot basically gets Slap Chop‘d into blood-n-guts salsa by the propeller of the emergency getaway plane. Seriously, cheers in the theater. What’s wrong with you people? (Confession: I cheered, too.)
Finally, the Red Skull gets what’s coming to him when he tries to grab the magical Rubix cube… I mean, shameless Thor tie-in… I mean super-rad Norse power cube thing, and it leads to his kinda sorta maybe unless-there’s-a-sequel demise. It sure looks like he’s gone for good, but we can’t say he died for sure, so I’m not adding him to the body count. Maybe he just hopped the Bifrost straight to the Avengers movie?
Anyway, by my rough count, I’d say there are 112 casualties in Captain America: The First Avenger. Not a bad price to pay for saving the world! (And looking mighty good while doing it.) So with the official Summer Movie Body Count at 556 after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, this brings us to 668 with a full month to go. Nice work, Captain!