Let me know if this sounds familiar: An Army soldier deployed overseas as part of the United States' global fight against terrorism up and decides to abandon his post. Attempts to recover him result in the permanent injury of at least one other U.S. service member. Back home, the circumstances surrounding his decision to go AWOL become highly-publicized and controversial, and some even see him as a traitor.
This description encapsulates the saga of Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl — but it could easily describe Capt. Steve Rogers, the former Army O-3 who broke from the U.S. government before assembling an elite squad of international fugitives to wage an insurgency against a batshit crazy purple tyrant.
Yes, I know what you're thinking, but just hear me out.
On its face, this argument seems patently absurd. Even before he joined the U.S. military at the height of World War II, Steve Rogers was the noblest motherfucker to ever be issued a Social Security card. In fact, that's why the super-soldier serum developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine launched Rogers on such a dramatic arc: not just by enhancing his body, but enhancing his mind and spirit.
“The serum amplifies everything inside,” Erskine tells Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. “Good becomes great; bad becomes worse.”
Despite the potential for Red Skull-style 'roid rage, Rogers' moral compass remains strong while he's Captain America and after — even when that puts him at odds with the U.S. government. In Captain America: Winter Soldier, we see Rogers become increasingly skeptical of the U.S. military-industrial complex, a transformation that mirrors that of many active-duty service members and veterans of the post-9/11 era.
Ending Scene | Captain America The Winter Soldier (2014) Movie Clip
That skepticism only grows during the events of Winter Soldier and fully blooms when Rogers drops his shield at the end of Captain America: Civil War, no longer an agent of the governmental organizations he distrusts and the leaders he sees as out to manipulate him. How does that not sound like Bergdahl's stated reasoning for abandoning his post in Afghanistan's Paktika Province in June 2009?
“What I was seeing from my first unit, all the way up into Afghanistan… was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were literally — from what I could see — in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed,” Bergdahl says in one of the taped interviews with Boal.
“As a private first class, nobody is going to listen to me,” Bergdahl says … “The idea was I'd rather be sitting in Leavenworth than standing over the body of ,” he said, later saying the move was “gutsy but still stupid.”
Given that Bergdahl ended up getting captured by the Taliban and recovered only through a prisoner exchange, while Rogers spends two years beating the living shit out of arms dealers and terrorists while growing a sweet, sweet operator beard, the comparison isn't perfect. But the two even share responsibility for injuries inflicted upon fellow U.S. service members during attempts to bring them home, even if the case involving Cap was paralysis-by-synthezoid:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofjz_6K3dpw
War Machine Falls (Scene) | Marvel's Captain America: Civil War (2016) [IMAX]
Obviously, the two tales don't turn out the same: Steve Rogers goes on to play a modern-day Cincinnatus and leads his own rag-tag insurgency to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War; Bowe Bergdahl got off relatively scot-free. But to be honest, it doesn't really matter if Captain America ends up succeeding against the Mad Titan in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame — chances are, he'll end up doing time in the brig and get busted down to Pvt. America.
Frankly, only Col. James Rhodes likely knows how Cap's character arc is probably going to end: With a court-martial.