While watching captain America in English, I heard Chris Evans saying " If that's what it takes " What exactly does the sentence mean ?

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    Have you tried googling it? What it takes is an idiomatic expression: idioms.thefreedictionary.com/what+it+takes May 11, 2018 at 11:10
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    @MichaelRybkin - I don't think that particular meaning of what it takes is quite correct here, though. "She's got what it takes" means "She has the necessary qualities", but "If that's what it takes" means something more like "If that is the action that is required."
    – stangdon
    May 11, 2018 at 12:02
  • @stangdon I totally agree. I thought that it'd be very easy to connect the expression I mentioned in my comment to the one used in the movie because it's essentially the same expression, just used a little bit differently and in a different context. May 11, 2018 at 12:09
  • It takes brains to be a rocket scientist. John has what it takes to be one. That's an example.
    – Lambie
    May 11, 2018 at 12:25
  • @MichaelRybkin - You know, the more I think about it, the more I think the two senses are very closely connected, though. They both mean "what is necessary".
    – stangdon
    May 11, 2018 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


I haven't seen the movie so I don't know the context. But in general, "that's what it takes" means that these are the things required to complete this job or reach this goal.

A very literal example would be, "What does it take to replace spark plugs in my car?" To which someone might reply, "You need a set of socket wrenches, a spark plug puller, and of course the new spark plugs."

The phrase is often used for less concrete requirements. Like, "John really has what it takes to be a champion athlete", meaning, he has physical strength, a willingness to practice long and hard, etc.


This is a straight use of the verb "take", though it is one of those verbs with dozens of meanings, so you have to go through quite a bit to find!

Looking at Merriam Webster for example, they have:

take (verb)


  1. to adopt, choose, or avail oneself of for use: such as


e. (3) : need, require

// takes a size nine shoe

// it takes two to start a fight

In the film, the dialog goes:

Peggy Carter: What do you plan to do? Walk to Austria?

Steve Rogers: If that's what it takes.

when he says "If that's what it takes" in response to her question, he means (in this context):

If that is what is required [in order to get to Austria]

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