Every sports reference in Captain America: The First Avenger
Are you ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?
It’s Marvel Cinematic Universe Week at SB Nation and across our team brands! We’re using the superior superhero franchise to guide our coverage for this week, as we pass the two-month mark without sports.
Here at Fear the Fin, I’m going to take on a very stupid mission: to watch every film in the MCU and document every reference made to sports throughout. I’m playing a little fast and loose with my definition of “sports reference,” but I’m going to try to avoid making the same jokes more than once in this series. You’ll see what I mean.
That’s 23 films, totaling 50 hours, by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 10.
(I’m aware the week starts on Sunday, but the next theme week doesn’t start until Monday and I got a late start on this, okay? I’m cutting myself some slack to make this ridiculous thing a complete project.)
I’ll be watching in a chronological order (some films take place around the same time, so it doesn’t matter too much) that is dubbed the “spoiler” version, as post-credit scenes will contain spoilers for movies further along in the timeline, as opposed to release order.
I’ve set up a storystream to help you keep track of each post as they go up — which won’t be on any kind of set schedule, since I’m gonna be putting some weird hours into this thing in order to pull it off. No worries, though — that’s the whole point of having a centralized location.
Reminder that time stamps are approximate, not exact, and may vary based on streaming services.
Today we start in the 1940s with a kid from Brooklyn named Steve Rogers.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Director: Joe Johnston, Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
00:09:58: Small Steve Rogers is getting beaten up in the alleyway by a movie theatre by a tough guy who yells during movie previews — you, know, things normal people do. Anyway, on the cement wall behind Steve is an advertisement that reads: Football! The Brooklyn ‘Dodgers’ vs Paterson ‘Panthers’. It’s dated May 29, 1943.
What’s interesting to note is that the Paterson Panthers played in the American Association, which suspended its operations due to the war in 1942. The Brooklyn Dodgers, on the other hand, played in the National Football League in the fall of 1943, the last season they were known as the Dodgers. They only won two games that season and missed playoffs for the 12th consecutive year.
Since member teams of the American Association played on informally during the war, it’s likely this could’ve been an informal, off-season scrimmage.
00:16:40: When Steve says, “I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they’re from,” he’s referencing the 1972-73 Philadelphia Flyers, AKA the Broad Street Bullies. People don’t realize this.
00:20:13: Soldier Gilmore Hodge asks Agent Carter if they’re going to “wrassle,” and informs her he has a “few moves” she’ll like. This is a reference to the sport of wrestling, and also coitus. She punches him in the face, as is appropriate.
00:21:00: An army training sequence starts, which looks like the gym class of my absolute nightmares.
00:29:30: Driving through Brooklyn, a group of six kids are playing baseball in the street. Then, as Steve points out the alley he got beaten up in, a boy crosses in front of it, tossing a baseball into the air and catching it.
00:39:50: During this scene, Steve Rogers is seen out-running — or at least maintaining pace with, while taking shortcuts — a moving vehicle that is deliberately speeding. From what little I could find on speed limits in New York City in 1943, it seems like 30-35 miles per hour would be an accurate guess. For reference, Usain Bolt’s top speed is 27 miles per hour. Super serum Steve can beat that within like, ten minutes of existing.
Also, he jumps on other moving cars at one point to catch up. This is called “parkour.”
The chase ends with Steve Rogers swimming fast enough to catch a submarine. Again, cursory research indicates that 1940s submarines could reach speeds of up to 9 knots, or 10.357 miles per hour, though they sustained pace the longest at 2.5 knots (2.877 mph). Michael Phelps’ top speed is 5.5 miles per hour.
00:48:12: Someone working for the government says to Steve, “You play ball with us, you’ll be leading your own platoon in no time.” This is a baseball reference, not a football reference.
1:08:00: Bucky has to walk across a steel beam that is falling, while fire and explosions happen below him. This is kind of like American Ninja Warrior, if you think about it.
Steve jumps that same distance after the beam does, indeed, fall. One heck of a long jump on that kid.
01:38:00: Steve is now running through a crowd to catch a plane (the kind that absolutely did not exist in 1943) that is taking off. Cannot exaggerate how much stress that would be on our pathetic human bodies. We are not Steve Rogers.
01:50:47: Here we go. Steve Rogers, waking up in the future. He knows it’s wrong because of the Dodgers (this time it’s the baseball-playing Dodgers) game being broadcast on the radio. It’s tied 4-4 against the Phillies in Brooklyn. The Dodgers have three men on base. They take an 8-4 lead.
This game was from May, 1941, and Steve Rogers was there.
02:02:51: In the post-credits scene, we see Steve boxing. He bursts a boxing bag, but to be fair, it looks like it was already held together with duct tape, so presumably it took less effort this time.
Up Next: Captain Marvel