In his time, people went to the movies, they had a good time, and that was pretty much it. Some might've nursed an infatuation or another; god he knows he did about Marlena Dietrich, but that was it.
These days, popular culture, as it was called, was much more influential. It informed people's thoughts and expectations, and even their speech was peppered with nods to movies and television shows he hadn't watched. So when people kept asking him to say the phrase, "We jump where Angels fear to tread" he was confused. Came a time when he refused to comply since he'd began to think there was some kind of joke, and the SHIELD agent who had made the request, not wanting him to think he meant was making fun of him, explained the origin of the phrase.
At some point, over forty years ago, a movie was made about Captain America. It chronicled his wartime exploits, was nominated for some awards and even won a few. The line he'd been asked to deliver so often was from famous scene in the movie that had went on to take its place in film history alongside the likes of "I don't give a damn" or "We'll always have Paris".
And when word got around of that exchange, there was no stopping the plans from falling into place, and so Steve found himself parking his restored Indian motorcycle outside Clint Barton's building for his house-warming/movie-night.
Clint's place was a loft on the tenth floor. Large prints of various movies posters, mostly Westerns and Hong Kong action flicks, adorned the brown brick walls. A wide rack at a prominent spot carried his collection of oriental weapons and antique bows and arrows. A bachelor's haven to some, it was currently filled with Clint's friends, who were mostly SHIELD agents.
Clint was there, naturally. So was Sam Wilson, who opened the door for Steve, and was someone who'd become a good friend of Steve's in recent months. There was also Natasha Romanoff, who last he knew had broken up with Barton. From where she sat on the couch, nursing a beer, she glared at Clint – or maybe stared longingly, it was hard to tell with her - as he talked to some girl called Bobbi.
Then there were the others he didn't know too well, at all, or only by name, like Jimmy Woo and Kate Neville. And then there was Sharon Carter.
Sharon Carter, Peggy's grand-niece, who looked so much like her great-aunt that it bothered him. He met her months ago, before the Avengers and the mess with Loki, and he'd seen her often since, as she was Sam's partner, but they'd never socialized.
She didn't know about him and Peggy. Aside from Fury, who knew more than he had to on any subject, no one did. After all, there was not much to know about him and Peggy, they'd never dated, and only kissed once. Even that brief clip of him holding a compass with her picture in it was redacted from the newsreels, the Army propaganda guys saying it was better for his image with the women of America if he appeared single.
Steve accepted a beer from Clint and complemented him on the new place. An hour of minglig followed, he shook a few hands and listened to some jokes.
Eventually, they all sat down, the lights were dimmed, and the disc was slipped into the player.
The MGM lion roared onscreen. A black screen then followed, displaying a quote;
"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.
"It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory." - George S. Patton
A credits sequence followed. Names faded in and out over achieve footage of depression-era New York.
A William Wyler Film. Steve was greatly flattered. Robert Redford…Lee Marvin… Raquel Welsh… None of the names in the cast are familiar to him.
It started in Brooklyn in the mid-twenties, focusing on a folded flag on a shelf in a modest apartment. The camera moved, revealing a little blond boy playing with some wooden toy soldiers, reenacting a fierce battle from WWI. Off screen, someone coughed, and the camera moved again, revealing the boy's bedridden mother.
Steve held himself together. Watching his mother wither away wasn't something he wished to see dramatized, but he didn't feel like ruining the evening for everyone else.
"Who's that actress?" he asked, trying to sound carefree.
"Er, Sally Kellerman." Said Clint.
"How do I know that name?" one of the people he doesn't really know asks another.
"She was Hot Lips in MASH."
"Movie or tv show?"
It went on after that. The mother died, he was placed in an orphanage, and that was the last of the little boy. The timeframe moved to the forties, where movie-Rogers is played by Redfrord, a fit man in baggy clothes who though wearing makeup to give him sunken eyes and a more gaunt look, actually looks leagues better than Steve did in his time. Understandable, though film effects were the stuff of magic now, there was only so much they could do in the mid-sixties. Movie-Rogers had a gimpy leg, at any rate.
Rogers tries to enlist, but is rejected, and has to contend with some German sympathizers on his way home. Rogers doesn't go down without a fight, but he goes down, and that's when rescue comes in the form of a large, clean-shave, bald man of apparently Greek descent.
"Telly Savalas is such a badass."
The older man it transpires is Rogers's close friend, an Army Sergeant called Buck Dugan.
"Um…What?" asked Steve, "Buck Dugan?"
As Sam explained, Dugan would've been working for the CIA at the time, so he wouldn't allow them to use him. Steve wonderd how that led to Bucky and Dum-Dum getting amalgamated, but Sam just shruged.
Different names and composite characters didn't end there. Pretty soon, two men, one is Colonel Philips, while the other is a sharp dressed man of the dashing type called Edward Hughes, approach him about a secret government experiment.
"Lee Marvin is on top form here."
"He won an Oscar for it."
Before he asks, Sam explains Hughes is meant as a stand in for Howard Stark, who's involvement in the creation of Captain America was something of a badly kept secret.
But what bothered Steve is that the movie paints Stark as the soul intellect behind the creation of Captain America, with no defecting German scientist in sight.
"That information wasn't declassified then." Natasha offered when he voiced his thoughts.
The movie went on. Rogers joined the USO, but not before meeting Pvt. Agnes Lorraine, Philips' secretary and….. His one… true… love?
When he asked this time, he was met with surprise. The love affair between Captain America and Lorraine was one thing everyone believed to be real. After the war, Agnes Lorraine went on to become a Hollywood star under the stage name Lorraine Palmer, and whispers of a wartime affair with Captain America had followed the whole way. She denied them until her early death at the break of the sixties, but the legend persisted.
"So…" Clint asked, "You didn't tap Lorraine Palmer?"
"Huh. That's pretty, um…Wait. That's Lorraine Palmer on the wall."
Clint pointed at a large poster of a 1950 film noir titled 'The Laughing Mask' starring Joseph Cotton and Lorraine Palmer. Sure enough, the woman in the black dress with the terrified expression was the same Pvt. Lorraine he knew.
"Yeah, I knew her."
"You didn't date her?"
Looking Clint in the face, Steve saw something change. A minor twitch and a deadening in his eye, as if he'd witnessed something beautiful die. At that moment, a little bit of the admiration Clint held for Steve chipped away.
Because there was someone else for him, someone who cared so much for him she was willing to shoot him. He didn't want to talk about it, so he said something else.
"Didn't know she was going to end up being a movie star."
"Yeah, but come on." Sam said, "She looked about-"
"OH MY GOD IT'S MR. SULU!"
A Japanese-American soldier was seen on screen, toiling in the depths of a German arms factory. The actor playing him had an unusual way of talking, nothing like the actual Morita's flawless Californian accent, but the male members of the audience were fixated on him, almost reverent.
"Mr. Suluuuu." A few whispered, like a psalm.
At least Jim's in it, he thinks. It soon transpires that Gabe is also in it, played by a large, football player-looking person. But there was no Dernier or Falsworth to be seen.
Rounding up the rest of the movie Howlers are Reb Ralston; a rowdy southern kid, John Juniper; a clean-cut college boy, and then there's a few others that don't get as much focus.
Falsworth went to work for British Intelligence after the war, so perhaps the same situation with Dugan applied to him. Except he's not replaced by any analogue. And what about Frenchie? Could it have been that they didn't want any non-Americans involved?
By the time Howard… Edward Hughes reappeared and was shown to be of all things, a mentor of sort, to movie-Rogers, Steve stopped being bothered by the inaccuracies. It reached such that point that he became merely amused. It was too surreal not to be. Viewing it as fiction became a matter of deciding to do so.
Hell with it, he though, So it's inaccurate. He'd made a few inaccurate movies himself, and when half his friends went on to be spies, it was understandable they wouldn't be able to get the details right.
And so he began to enjoy himself. He too became mesmerized by the Mr. Sulu's voice.
Lee Marvin, the actor playing Colonel Philips, did so with amazing accuracy and gusto as he scolded and threatened.
Telly Salavas was indeed, a 'badass', and while he might be Greek, bald and clean shaven, but he wears a hat and dislikes the Yankees, and he would've bade Dugan and Bucky proud. Even the Howling Commandos that were made up for the movie were in their way pretty close, and behaved like many actual soldier he knew from the 107th.
The scene where his fictional counterpart delivers the line he'd be asked to recite before arrives, in it Rogers deliveres an impassioned speech to his demoralized troops at their darkest hour. It is indeed memorable, and Steve thinks it's so good that he plans to memorize it and use in reality, should the need ever arise.
During a heartfelt scene set with Lorraine and Rogers, Steve looked toward Sharon. She was fixated on the screen, and he thought she might've been faintly mouthing the words along to what Lorraine was saying.
The legend of Captain America might've been inspiring and grand, but like all legend it was filled with as much lies as truth. If he ever decided the world should know what he really said, what he really did and with whom he really did it, he'd write a memoir. Until then, he'd keep the truth of his past loves, friends and fears to himself.