I need to talk about this. This moment is so huge and so many people seem to not understand that. I’ve seen a few posts mention Steve’s face here, how relieved he must be, speculating on his thoughts, and I’m fully on board with all of that, but I don’t think any of it goes far enough. I’ve mentioned it a few times in my many discussions of why I’m content with his characterization in The Avengers, but now I’m really going to focus on it.
This, the Tesseract, is one of the major reasons why he’s in such a “bad mood” for a lot of the movie and people really need to understand that.
He went through hell over that thing. He saw battles and horrors no person ever should because of it. He lost seventy years of his own life, a chance to be with Peggy and the Commandos and live, because of it. Most importantly, Bucky died because of it.
So he wakes up and the only comfort he really has is the knowledge that it, at least, is gone. If nothing else, he succeeded in getting rid of the Tesseract. It’s gone now. Fallen into the ocean after his final battle, never to be seen or harm a soul again. Until it isn’t.
It was never gone, his own allies had it all the time he was frozen. SHIELD had it but now they’ve lost it and it’s in the hands of someone even worse than the Red Skull.
And now Steve has to fight that battle, the battle he was told was over—that he won—all over again. He has to fight it again only this time there’s no Bucky, no Peggy, no Commandos. And in their place is this new team and they’re all uncooperative and not a damn one of them is taking this seriously enough for his liking. Because not one of them has been hurt by this thing like Steve has.
Still, he tries to hold the team together, to lead this time bomb. Their one common denominator is Nick Fury and he tries to use that to keep them focused but it doesn’t work because Fury has too many secrets of his own. So instead Steve tries to use the mutual mistrust Tony and Bruce and yes, even Steve, have of Fury to unite them, which starts to work but Loki’s interference turns that upside-down and you can practically hear the frustrated screams inside him damn it you people don’t understand what that thing will do if we don’t get it back, nothing else matters we have to get the Tesseract please we have to get it!
The pain Steve is going through over it is unbelievable, and he’s had mere days at this point to process everything else that’s happened to him. He hasn’t had the chance to mourn Bucky or the Commandos or come to terms with any of it. This is a twenty-six year old man who’s been through hell and now he’s expected to do it all over again only worse.
And on top of it all, in the back of his mind, he probably blames himself. Remember what Fury tells him in the beginning? Howard found it while looking for Steve. Imagine the guilt there. If he’d been able to find a way out of that plane, the Tesseract might still be in the ocean. But it’s not. Because Howard was looking for him. Might SHIELD have still gotten a hold of it? (or worse, HYDRA?) Maybe. But we’ll never know for sure. What we do know is that SHIELD found it, Loki stole it, kidnapped Barton, Selvig, a number of other agents, killed over eighty people in two days, “killed” Coulson, and went on to nearly wipe out New York. And all because Howard was looking for Steve.
You’d be in a bad mood too.
(credit for the gifs goes to starkactual)