Hayley Atwell surprisingly touching Chris Evans' chest, as he emerged from the pod upon turning into Captain America, was very much improvised, and the surprise on her face is genuine, as she admitted in interviews she was very taken by Chris' physique and nearly broke character and ruined the take that made it into the film, as a result.
Most of the shots were done by a Los Angeles company called LOLA, that specializes in digital "plastic surgery." The technique involved shrinking Chris Evans in all dimensions. They shot each "skinny Steve" scene at least four times; once like a normal scene with Evans and his fellow actors in the scene, once with Evans alone in front of a green screen so his element could be reduced digitally, again with everyone in the scene but with Evans absent so that the shrunken Steve could be re-inserted into the scene, and finally with a body double mimicking Evans's actions in case the second technique was required. When Evans had to interact with other characters in the scene, they had to either lower him or raise the other actors on apple boxes, or elevated walkways to make 'skinny Steve' shorter in comparison. For close-ups, Evans's fellow actors had to look at marks on his chin that represented where his eyes would be after the shrinking process, and Evans had to look at marks on the tops of the actor's head to represent their eyes. The second technique involved grafting Evans' head onto the body double. This technique was used mostly when Evans was sitting or lying down, or when a minimum of physical acting was required.
Chris Evans declined the role three times before accepting the part - not out of dislike for the role, but because he feared what the effects of the sudden increase of fame would be on his private life. Then Robert Downey, Jr. convinced him to take the part, and thus gain the freedom to sign on any other role he'd want to afterwards. After that, he had a meeting with the director and the producers who convinced him to take the role.
Originally cameo appearances were planned in the film for James "Logan" Howlett (Wolverine) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), who were present during World War II (Logan was a soldier and Lehnsherr was in an internment camp). These cameos were scrapped due to rights issues.
In the exhibition, there is a mannequin in a red jumpsuit under a glass dome. That is a reference to the android, the original Human Torch, the first superhero created by Timely Comics (October 1939), which eventually became Marvel Comics. He was also part of The Invaders along with Namor and Captain America. Marvel Comics recycled the name and abilities with the Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm (1961). Chris Evans portrayed Johnny Storm/Human Torch in the first two 'Fantastic Four' films.
Despite being 'The First Avenger', Captain America was not the first avenger in the comics. In comics, Ant-Man, Wasp, Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor were the first ones. Only after Hulk left the team, Captain America joined the avengers. Nor is Captain America the oldest, as Thor is several centuries older.
At the Expo, Howard Stark demonstrates his semi-functional "Reversion" technology. It's an obvious precursor to Tony Stark's "Repulsors", perfected for his Iron Man armor. They both even have an orange glow when functioning.
Even though the vial of serum stolen by the Hydra agent is broken, another showed up in The Incredible Hulk (2008) to be injected into Emil Blonsky (making him the Abomination). You can even see "Vita-Ray" written on the refrigerated storage container. According to canon many attempts were made to replicate the Super-Soldier experiment, but for a yet-unexplained reason it only ever worked on Steve Rogers. In Captain America: Civil War it is revealed that several other super soldiers were eventually created during the Cold War (with a similar-looking serum stolen from Howard Stark), but the process left them aggressive and impossible to control.
Summary of Patient Health Issues (for Skinny Steve Rogers): Asthma, Scarlet fever, Rheumatic fever, Epilepsy, Sinusitis, Chronic or frequent colds, High blood pressure, Palpitations or pounding in heart, Easy fatiguability, Heart Trouble, Nervous trouble of any sort, Has had household contact with tuberculosis patient, Parent/Sibling with diabetes, cancer, stroke or (?).
During the escape from the HYDRA facility, Dugan and Jones steal a tank. As they drive away, you hear Dugan exclaim "Wahoo!" In the comics, this is the battle cry of the Howling Commandos, of which both men are members.
The shield Captain America uses in the early stages of the film, is similar to the one used in the first issue of the Captain America comic. The shield was changed in the comics, after publisher of the comic character "The Shield" had complained that Captain America was too similar to their character.
The comic version of Captain America's shield, is most commonly said to be a mixture of Vibranium and Adamantium. Vibranium = the shield's ability to absorb vibrations; Adamantium = the shield's (near) invincibility. However, because Adamantium is part of the X-Men/Wolverine mythos, which film rights are owned by 20th Century Fox, the Adamantium part had to be left out of this version.
Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) is only called the "Red Skull" twice in the movie, first when the Fuhrer's representatives come to shut down HYDRA, and second in the letter that is read by the German S.S. officer from Adolf Hitler.
Shields made of different materials were used depending on what was needed for the shot. Rubber shields were used for when Captain America punches people with it. For scenes where he put the shield on his back, magnets were used to keep it in place. In many of the scenes where he is seen throwing the shield, Chris Evans would mime out the actions of catching and throwing the shield, with the shield being added later, using CGI.
Stan Lee's cameo appearance in this film, is an exception in the tradition of him appearing in films featuring Marvel Comics superheroes. In this case, Lee had nothing to do with the initial creation of Captain America, but his first story he ever wrote was "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3 in 1941, which also had the first appearance of Captain America throwing his shield as a weapon. In addition, he, along with Jack Kirby, was responsible for successfully reviving the character in 1964 in The Avengers #4 and reestablishing him as a major figure in the Marvel Universe.
After Joss Whedon was hired to direct The Avengers (2012), he was given a copy of the film's script, and made a few rewrites to tie it more closely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: "I just got to make some character connections. The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit - and some of the other characters - and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be. And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit."
Johann Schmidt/Red Skull's car was built from scratch over a modified truck chassis. It was 25 feet long and eight feet wide. Its design was inspired by the Mercedes 540K and the Mercedes G4, and included an exposed "supercharger" between the front wheels. The car had a 700 horsepower Drexler engine just to move it. Director Joe Johnston actually took it for a drive: "I drove it myself and it has about a 38-foot turning radius. So it's not a lot of fun to drive. But it looked fantastic. Just a beautiful car."
Baron Zemo and Baron von Strucker originally appeared as side villains working with the Red Skull, but the writers cut them from the script due to fears that they would be wasted in such small roles. Strucker ended up being used in the post-credits sequence of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), as well as a major role in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), while Zemo became a villain in Captain America: Civil War (2016)..
When the commando team is put together, the French teammate says: ''Moi, je combattrai jusqu'à ce que le dernier de ces bâtards soient morts, enchaînés ou bien pleurent comme un petit bébé.'' Translated, it means: 'I will fight until the last of those bastards are dead, chained or cry like a little baby.' Then his friend replies: ''J'espère que ce sera tous les trois.' ( 'I hope it will be all three.'') ''Moi aussi'' (''Me too'') the first one concludes.
Chris Evans was attracted to the role of Captain America by its character: "Even if it wasn't a comic book. I think the story of Steve Rogers is great. He's a great guy. Even if it was just a script about anybody, I would probably want to do it. It wasn't necessarily about the comic itself. He's a great character to play; he just happens to be a comic book character."
When Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Peggy, and Captain America are chasing the HYDRA plane in Schmidt's car, Colonel Phillips presses a red button, with the letter K on it and the German words Gefahr Nicht Drucken surrounding it which translates in English to "Danger Do Not Push", sending the car speeding faster down the runway. In the film Men in Black (1997), Tommy Lee Jones' character Kay warns his partner J to never "ever touch the red button", and later in the film tells him to "push the little red button" sending their car speeding down a tunnel. Ironically, his character's name in that movie is K while the button his pushes to make the car go faster in this movie has the letter K on it.
Throughout the film, Steve uses a side arm, while fighting Skull's forces. In the comics, he used a side arm until realizing that his new shield (that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives him) could be used as a weapon, by throwing it, and it subsequently replaces the side arm.
When in the tank, Jones tells Dugan he studied three semesters German at Howard, and then switched to French, because the girls were much prettier. In the German version, he says he studied mechanical engineering at Harvard, but not for long, because the girls were so ugly.
Captain America's special forces unit that he assembles and leads, is an amalgamation of the characters of Marvel Comics' World War II period titles. These are the 1960s war title, "Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos", about an elite special forces infantry unit, and the 1970s "The Invaders", about a superhero team operating during the war, under the command of Captain America. The contributions of the former title include most of the soldier characters, while the latter includes Captain America, Bucky, and James Montgomery Falsworth, who appears in the comic book as the British superhero, Union Jack.
When Steve discovers the gunmetal circular shield in the development office of Howard Stark, he asks what it's made from. Vibranium is a fictional element in the Marvel universe that comes from the country of Wakanda, the land where The Black Panther, another Marvel superhero, lives.
Louis Leterrier viewed some of the concept art for the film, and was impressed enough to offer his services, but Marvel Studios turned him down. However, his film (The Incredible Hulk (2008)) features a small appearance by Captain America: a deleted scene set in the Arctic, features his body hidden in a slab of ice.
That Steve Rogers sketches costume designs for Howard Stark, and is caught doodling pictures of himself as a circus monkey refers to the comics' depiction of Cap's alter ego as an artist since 1979 - he even worked on the fictional Captain America comic book published on Marvel Earth. There is a very similar scene of Steve drawing costumes and caricatures of himself in the 1991 comic miniseries "The Adventures of Captain America" which detailed his origin. This series seems also to have been influential in other ways - for example, the character of Peggy Carter in the film (which is very different from the comics) is reminiscent of Steve's love interest Lieutenant Cynthia Glass in the miniseries - who there, turned out to be a German spy in the end, however.
Unlike some of his other fellow actors who play parts in the film, Chris Evans didn't have to audition for the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America, since the filmmakers were desperate to have him play the part.
Up until a very late stage in pre-production, HYDRA would have been a blatantly Nazi paramilitary organization, with swastikas on their uniform. The implication is still present in the final version, however. In addition, deleted scenes also had HYDRA explicitly attacking Nazis in addition to Allied powers.
Paul Warren (an experienced film double and actor, mostly known for roles wearing prosthetics) was used in pre-production to help develop the 'Skinny Steve Rogers' effect by CGI supervisor, Christopher Townsend, as well as one of the 'Skinny Steve' on set stand-ins. English Shakespearean trained stage actor, Leander Deeny, was used as the on set as the 'Skinny Steve' double when Chris Evans was sitting or lying down, or when a minimum of physical movement was required.
Joe Johnston also directed The Rocketeer (1991). In that film, the hero, Cliff Secord, finds a rocket pack created by Howard Hughes, thus becoming The Rocketeer. In this film, Captain America obtains his iconic shield from Howard Stark, a character closely based on Howard Hughes.
In the room where Stark demonstrates his Reversion technology, you can see behind the audience, hanging from the ceiling is a model of a red rocket with a black-and-white checked stripe in the middle. This is the rocket from the Belgian graphic novels "Tintin: Objectif Lune" and "Tintin: On a marché sur la Lune" by Georges Prosper Remi (a.k.a. Hergé).
In the first scene with Zola and Schmidt, Schmidt is looking at images of the Tesseract, including one, which is a doctored photograph of a section of a famous carved wooden doorway from a church in Hylestad, Norway. The actual carving depicts the hero Sigurd helping the smith Regin forge a sword, which Sigurd will use to slay the dragon Fafnir. The Tesseract has been photoshopped in between the two men. A later image appearing behind Schmidt's head when Dr. Erskine is telling Steve about Schmidt seems to represent Sigurd listening to the birds, who tell him to kill Regin, and seek the Valkyrie, Brunhild. The Sigurd story is the Norse version of the Siegfried tale, whose operatic realization by Richard Wagner Schmidt listens to; in Wagner's version, Siegfried is the product of incest between Wotan (Odin's) twin children.
Edgar Wright had been rumored to have secretly rewritten the film, but he publicly denied this. Wright would soon write his own Marvel Studios film, Ant-Man (2015), but left the film before it was finished, due to a falling out with Marvel.
In the beginning of the movie, Johann Schmidt, while gazing at the tesseract, says "...And the Führer digs for trinkets in the desert." This is reference to another Paramount picture, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Joe Johnston was part of the Academy Award winning visual effects team from ILM on that film.
The aircraft used by Howard Stark to fly Captain America behind German lines is a "Beechcraft Model 18" also known as "Twin Beech." It was first built in 1937 and was a true multi-role small transport plane used widely by the Army Air Corps and numerous civil companies for transport of cargo, supply goods and wounded personnel.
Jon Favreau was originally chosen by Marvel Studios to direct this film (which he intended to make as a buddy comedy), but he chose to direct Iron Man (2008). Nick Cassavetes, was also considered to direct this film, and had been set as a director for Iron Man (2008) in December 2004.
Hugo Weaving and Stanley Tucci both appeared in the Transformers movies, but they did not share any screen time together, Hugo having his voice used as Megatron in the first three movies , while Stanley appeared only in the fourth Transformers movie.
The science fiction serial character Buck Rogers is an influence behind the character of Captain America. Captain America's real name is Steve Rogers and like Buck Rogers, he is frozen in suspended animation and is revived decades later, unlike Buck Rogers, who was frozen in suspended animation for centuries. Incidentally, James Barnes's nickname happens to be Bucky.
In the beginning of the movie, Red Skull is portrayed wearing a masked version of what is assumed to be his previously skinned appearance before he took the Super Soldier serum. He later takes off the mask to reveal his red, scorched-looking flesh, once referring to it as being "burned". Hugo Weaving also played in V for Vendetta (2005) as V, an anarchist who wears a Guy Fawkes mask for several reasons including hiding large-area burns covering his body.
Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester on the CW show Supernatural (2005), was of the choices to portray Captain America. Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, also played a character named Jensen in the movie The Losers (2010).
Jenna Coleman and Natalie Dormer would both later work with Maisie Williams and Emilia Clarke. Natalie Dormer co-starred with Maisie Williams and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011), in which she played Margery Tyrell. Maisie Williams appeared in the ninth season of Doctor Who (2005) as recurring character Ashildr, and Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald in Doctor Who (2005), later starred opposite Emilia Clarke in Me Before You (2016).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Captain America attacks the base and finds the prisoners, he finds Bucky strapped to a table and very out of it. Later, Bucky falls to his apparent doom into the frozen river. In the comics, Bucky becomes the Winter Soldier, so these events set up his return in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus, speaking together with some crosstalk, Joe Johnston, Shelly Johnson, and Jeffrey Ford said on the audio commentary, that the experiments performed by Zola, enabled Barnes to survive the fall shown in the film.
Red Skull's deformed appearance, is explained by his body's rejection of the serum, because he was not worthy - the serum drives him even madder. This is exactly what happens in The Incredible Hulk (2008) to Emil Blonsky, when he's injected with the serum, which leads to his transformation into Abomination.
Howard Stark finds the lost Tesseract at the end, which leads him to creating blue print designs about the cube's structure and overall power, which can be seen in a case of paperwork that Howard's son Tony looks through, in the middle of Iron Man 2 (2010).
When Johann Schmidt is searching for the Tesseract in the beginning of the film, he shoots the man hiding it, and blood splatters on his HYDRA pin. The blood only splatters on the skull part of his HYDRA pin, foreshadowing his reveal of him being the Red Skull.
Arnim Zola's first appearance, in the form of his face as an image on a television screen, is evocative of the "classic" comic-book Zola, whose body was a headless hulk containing his preserved consciousness with a viewscreen on its chest displaying an image of his face. When Zola is gathering his papers before the Red Skull self-destructs the base, the schematic for that robot body is visible as he packs it, establishing the possibility of him reappearing in modern times (which is what happens in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)).
There are several references to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which Joe Johnston worked on as Art Director: -Red Skull's consumption at the hands of the Tesseract is very similar to how the Ark of the Covenent kills the Nazis. -Captain America throws a HYDRA bad guy into a fighter plane's propeller. -After he holds the Cosmic Cube in his hands, Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull makes a comment about how Adolf Hitler "searches for trinkets in the desert".
When chasing down the HYDRA Agent, after being injected with the super soldier serum, Steve picks up a taxi cab door. The cab company is 'Lucky Star Cab Company' - with the name circling the star for a logo - resembling and foreshadowing the iconic shield that Steve eventually wields, as Captain America.
When Bucky takes Steve to the World's Fair near the beginning of the film he says, "We're going to the future" - a foreshadowing that both he and Steve Rogers will actually go to the future at the end of the film.
According to producer Avi Arad, "The biggest opportunity with Captain America is as a man 'out of time', coming back today, looking at our world through the eyes of someone who thought the perfect world was small-town America. Sixty years go by, and who are we today? Are we better?"
During Captain America's war bond drive, the tank burning in the background of the black and white film is an M5 Stuart tank painted with German insignia. This is correct to 1940's Hollywood film making, as they had no actual German tanks, so they'd paint U.S. vehicles with German sigils.
Howard Stark's flying car also makes an appearance on the Netflix show Agent Carter (2015), finally in perfect working order. The vehicles were also used by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents in the Marvel Comics Universe (made by Tony Stark) and appear on the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013).
When Steve Rogers runs into Times Square, and is surrounded by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, behind Nick Fury is a large advertisement for Baskin-Robbins. The same franchise, at which, Scott Lang (Ant-Man 2015) gets a job, after his release from prison.
The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) searches for a powerful artifact, the Cosmic Cube. In Transformers (2007), Weaving voiced the villain Megatron, who also searched for a similar cosmic cube-shaped relic (the AllSpark). Stanley Tucci later appeared in Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) in a role similar to his scientist role: he would create the man-made Transformer Galvatron, who was Megatron in a new body.
All three movies, in the Captain America trilogy, involve Captain America falling into a body of water: The Arctic in The First Avenger (2011), the Potomac River in The Winter Soldier (2014) and possibly the River Spree in Civil War (2016).