The Phoenix Force has long been a mighty antagonist in the Marvel Universe and it's back with Avengers #40. In the wake of the "Age of Khonshu" arc, the new "Enter the Phoenix" storyline sees various Marvel characters battling it out to see who is worthy of its cosmic power. For Marvel fans, it may look and at some points feel a bit reminiscent of the 2012 event, Avengers vs. X-Men and even a bit of the more recent X of Swords, but it isn't just comics that the newly-released issue calls back to. There's a clever Marvel Cinematic Universe reference tucked into its pages as well.
Warning: spoilers for Avengers #40 below.
The issue divides itself a bit between "now" -- a present-set fight between Doctor Doom and Captain America -- and the events immediately leading up to the characters going at one another, thus explaining how Steve and Doom ended up fighting in the first place. The Phoenix Force is testing the characters to see who will be worth of wielding its power. As Cap and Doom go toe-to-toe in the Savage Land, it's a brutal fight with Captain America arguably at a disadvantage. It's in the fight that readers are reminded what Captain America's real power is and that is that he has never forgotten who he was before the Super Soldier Serum and after a particularly brutal blow from Doom, a bloodied Captain America manages to get himself back up and utters a line that fans of the MCU know very, very well: "I can do this all day."
In Avengers #40, Captain America doesn't quite get to finish the phrase; Doom hits him with full power and when he doesn't die, Doom decides to forfeit the fight. But even with the slightly truncated use of the phrase, it's a great call-back to the movies of the MCU which saw Captain America say it in moments where it would appear the hero was outmatched. There was even a nod to the iconic line in Avengers: Endgame when the "present" day Captain America fights 2012 Captain America, prompting the older Steve to quip "Yeah, I know, I know" when his younger self says the phrase.
And, true to form, Avengers #40 sees Captain America use the phrase when he's at his lowest in the fight. Even with the Phoenix Force not letting him die and Doom forfeiting, Cap's win isn't necessarily a good thing. The hero has been seriously pummeled, making it clear to the others how brutal these battles are. More than that, though, Cap's internal monologue notes that he knows what victory feels like -- and despite winning this round, he knows what just went down simply isn't it.
Avengers #40 is available now.