Cap’s Generation Gap: Captain America Adjusts to Modern Day Life

Captain America: The Winter SoldierWalt Disney Co via Everett Collection

Finding out that you’ve spent that last 70 years frozen in a giant block of ice would be traumatizing for anybody, even without the added stress of trying to adjust to modern technology and culture. Steve’s still getting over the shock of the whole ordeal, but he figured the least he could do was attempt to figure out what has changed in the decades since World War II. Of course, since everything now is bigger, louder and more crowded, the culture shock is taking some getting used to. And man, New York City has gotten expensive!

Thinking it would be easiest to start with entertainment, he decided to spend an afternoon at the movie theater, like he did when he and Bucky were kids. A ticket cost him $15, popcorn and soda cost another 10, and before he could even enjoy the movie (something mindless with a lot of explosions and terrible dialogue), he had to sit through 20 minutes of commercials. At least the newsreels of his neighborhood movie house were educational! Although he did love the new 3D technology. It’s kind of cool to watch the actors reach through the screen towards the audience. 

But it’s not just the movies that have seen their prices skyrocket. Everything in New York is far more expensive than it was when he left. Good ol’ Tony makes fun of him for the amount of times that he declares things were better or cheaper or more entertaining “back in his day,” but Steve’s not just doing it to complain. He’s concerned about the ordinary, hard-working people that live in New York. How can they afford to stay in this city? He watched his parents struggle to make ends meet when he was growing up, and they weren’t even paying $2.50 a Subway ride! And don’t even get him started on what rent in this city costs. It’s practically highway robbery, as far as Steve is concerned. He turned down the apartment S.H.I.E.L.D. has picked out for him, deciding to head back to his neighborhood in the Lower East Side instead. He wanted to be near familiar streets, even if nothing else on them remained the same, and in the interest of fairness, he bought up his old building and dramatically lowered the rent. Somebody should be looking out for the people that need help. 

In fact, he’s thinking of moving to one of the outer boroughs himself. Everything in his old neighborhood has changed so dramatically that he’s not sure if he still feels at home there. His uncle’s deli isn’t even around anymore, having been replaced by the third Starbucks within two blocks. Steve stopped in for a coffee once. Only once, though. Between paying a fiver for some sort of elaborate, overly-sweet concoction and being yelled at by some fellow with giant glasses for sitting too long at a table with an outlet, he’s not sure he liked the experience enough to head back. (And seriously, $5 for coffee? Who even heard of such a thing?!) The rest of the team seems to love Starbucks, though, so Steve lets them pick him up a coffee whenever they insist. He is polite, after all. 

There are a lot of things that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rest of the Avengers seem to love that he doesn’t understand. Reality television, for one. Why would anyone want to watch people living their everyday lives? How interesting could it possibly be? Who are these Kardashians that everyone keeps talking about, and why should he be keeping up with them? He attempted to watch an episode of their show once, and while they’re very pretty young women, he doesn’t get why anyone could be entertained by them screaming at each other and going to lunch after lunch. 

Steve’s having a hard time understanding the point of a lot of celebrities these days. He gets why actresses and musicians are famous, even if he doesn’t understand why they’re always dressed so ridiculously, but there’s a whole group of people who seem to be famous for no reason. If someone could kindly explain to him what exactly a “lifestyle guru” or “media mogul” does, and why it’s worth following their every move, he’d be eternally grateful. Another aspect of modern celebrity that he really doesn’t understand is the paparazzi. Sure, there were celebrity photographers back in his day, but they mostly stuck to taking pictures at fancy events. Just the other day, Steve watched a crowd of people with cameras follow this poor actress down the street, screaming obscene things at her the whole time, and when he intervened to get them to leave her alone, they started screaming at him instead. The next day, Natasha kept teasing him about his “Hollywood romance” until he finally got so confused that she showed him an article online that claimed he and this actress had been having an affair. He’s still not sure how these “journalists” can get away with printing blatant lies, but Fury assured him that someone would call the publication and take care of things. The day after that, the whole team had to sit through a lecture on dealing with the press and managing their image. 

Captain America: the Winter SoldierMarvel Studios

That’s part of the reason that S.H.I.E.L.D. set him up with a Twitter account. They say it’s a way for him to connect with his fans, but Steve’s not sure how that would be possible, considering he doesn’t quite understand how to use social media. Nobody ever uses English to speak anymore, which means he has to spend far too much time decoding all of the symbols and tiny, animated pictures that people are using to communicate with him. He’s been trying to answer all of their messages, but they keep coming in so quickly, and he’s still getting used to the keyboard on his phone, so he ends up losing whole days on the site. Fury offered to have someone run his account for him — he says all the big celebrities do that now — but it’s important to Steve to connect with the people he serves. Besides, they would make him stop replying to the people who send him insults, and he enjoys teaching people to be polite. He’s getting the hang of it, and once he manages to stop accidentally Tweeting out his Internet searches, he should be set. 

And that’s not even his fault, you see. It’s that stupid smart phone that S.H.I.E.L.D. gave him. He’s still having a hard time navigating it, especially since every time he touches it wrong, about 10 new windows open up, whatever he was doing disappears, and he’s making an accidental phone call. Some members of the team are better about accidentally calling them than others. Bruce was probably the most understanding, and politely sat through his lengthy apology for an inadvertent ring in the middle of the night. Tony, on the other hand, spends a few days teasing him every time he “butt dials” Stark Tower. 

But the smart phone isn’t all bad. It’s got all of his music on it, for one, which he really appreciates. He used to listen to the radio. But now, instead of playing the dramas and big band music he enjoyed growing up, it’s all talk radio personalities screaming their heads off, or music that gives him a headache with all of its banging and overuse of bass. And what’s with song lyrics these days?! He had no idea you were allowed to say such filth on the radio. Still, he’s getting better about broadening his music tastes. Some of this modern music isn’t half bad: he’s a big fan of Coldplay, for one. Plus, his phone holds so much more music than he ever thought possible, which is especially nice since his record collection doesn’t seem to have made it into storage. He decided to try and replace it at one point, but the only record stores that have any are filled with obnoxious kids with strange facial hair, who tried to talk him out of replacing his old jazz records with something they call “soft grunge.” 

And it’s got all kinds of fun games on it. On someone’s recommendation, he downloaded something called Candy Crush, and then proceeded to spend the next two days doing nothing but playing it. He made it to level 78 before Fury confiscated his phone out of annoyance.

The other big modern advancement that’s okay in Steve’s book is television. Apparently, it came out not long after he was frozen, but the TV of today is amazing. There are more channels that he ever though were possible, and they make televisions as big as a movie screen now. He found a whole channel devoted to nothing but baseball, which is his favorite, even though the Yankees have gone downhill since they lost Joe DiMaggio. Apparently this Jeter guy was something, though. it’s a shame Steve only thawed out for his retirement, especially since he doesn’t like the guy everyone calls A-Rod. He went off of baseball for a few days when someone explained the whole steroid scandal to him — Steve’s never been able to abide cheating. But then Sam pointed out that he couldn’t really talk, what with the super serum currently coursing through his veins. And besides, he likes baseball much more than any of the other sports they have nowadays. (The ones he understands, anyway. He’s still struggling to get the hang of skateboarding. Is it a race, do they do tricks, is it both? He doesn’t get it.) 

All in all, though, adjusting to modern day hasn’t been too bad. The music takes some getting used to, but there’s a Shake Shack not too far from his apartment. It’s hard not ot enjoy a world with burgers and milkshakes on demand like that.