Superhero Breakdown: Captain America

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Captain America (Steve Rogers) strives to represent not just the best of America, but also of humanity itself.

Please note: Although there have been many people to be titled ‘Captain America’, this article discusses the Steve Rogers iteration.

Even before his appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Captain America was a very popular character.

While it’s true that he disappeared from comics for about 15 years in the mid-to-late 20th century (which is discussed in greater length in our History Of Captain America article), he’s been a mainstay of Marvel Comics ever since.

Over the years he’s been a soldier, a human popsicle, an anarchist, a rebel, and even a werewolf. One thing he’s never been, however, is boring. From punching out Hitler on the cover of his very first issue, to his anti-registration leadership in Marvel’s Civil War event (both in the comics and the MCU), this heroic warrior will always do his best to fight for freedom and justice.

Captain America: A Brief Overview

Captain America is a super-powered human who uses his combat skills and his almost-indestructable shield to fight enemies of peace, from small-time gangsters to intergalactic villains.

Originally active in World War II with his friend (and sidekick) Bucky Barnes, they both wound up frozen in ice for almost 20 years (even longer in the MCU).

After being accidentally thawed by Namor the Sub-mariner, he’d find the world had changed drastically during his absence. Eventually joining the Avengers, Captain America soon would become the official leader of the team. This served as a welcome distraction from the grief caused by the loss of his friend Bucky, and from the confusion caused by his lack of understanding of the modern world.

Eventually, he’d find himself opposing side of some of his fellow Avengers, most notably Iron Man (Tony Stark), in an event known as Civil War.

Captain America: Origins

Steve Rogers was a scrawny nerd who wanted to do his part for World War II.

Rejected by the army recruiters, Rogers was offered the opportunity to take an experimental drug. The experiment was a success, and it gave him super-human attributes.

Taking the name Captain America, Rogers was able to join the Allied Forces in combat, and well and truly did his part.

Captain America: Powers

Captain America doesn’t have any super-powers, but he does have super-human physical attributes.

In other words: He’s super-strong, super-agile, and super-durable (his body can take more damage than a standard human).

He’s also received the very best of training available from the American Army, and has literal decades of combat experience under his belt.

Captain America: Equipment

While the comic version of Captain America is traditionally depicted wearing a form of chain-mail, the MCU version of Captain America wears more modern forms of armour.

This is now which is now copied by the comics.

He also has his famous shield as well. The shield was originally a kite shield, but he now uses a circular shield, possibly to make it easier to ‘bounce’. ‘Shield-bouncing’ (riocheting his shield across various points in his immediate environment) is a unique aspect of Captain America’s fighting-style. The level of skill he shows in judging the trajectory of his shield is astounding – even if the shields return is aided by magnets. His shield is made from an almost-indestructable material known as ‘vibranium’.

Captain America has also been known to use guns, on occasion.

Captain America: Allies

As the leader of the Avengers, Captain America can count the many Avengers among his allies.

He’s also worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury, and also his son Nick Fury Jr. Although he rejected them at one stage, he’s since re-allied himself with the American Military.

He has also teamed up, long-term, with various Marvel characters such as Bucky Barnes (who survived being frozen and became the villain Winter Soldier), Falcon (Sam Wilson), Black Widow, and Sharon Carter (who was his significant other for a while).

Captain America: Rogues Gallery

Captain’s archnemesis is a Nazi scientist known as Red Skull.

Red Skull created (but does not currently lead) the Neo-Nazi criminal organisation known as Hydra, who Captain America also often faces off against.

He also regularly faces off against common Avengers foes, such as Ultron, the Skrull Empire, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), and Justin Hammer.

Captain America: Common Themes

Somewhat obviously, many Captain America stories revolve around patriotism, and often examine what happens when patriotism goes too far.

Captain America stories also often explore issues relating to redemption, and the meaning of legacy.

For instance, originally employed by the American Military, Steve Rogers quit after being disgusted at the corruption shown by the American Government. During this time he called himself Nomad, and he travelled America helping out where could.

Eventually, he realised that – much like the founders of America – he owed no allegiance to his former government employers, only to his fellow Americans. Instead of being the puppet of his government, he’d do his best to show the world what was good about America, and by extension, humanity. He chose to symbolise the pioneering spirit of America and thereby and represent all American people, regardless of country-of-origin, religion, or their political views – unless they wanted to harm other people, of course.

Captain America: Cultural Impact

His appeal isn’t merely patriotic, however.

If that were the case, he wouldn’t be popular world-wide. It’s the man under the mask that most of his fans relate to. Steve Rogers is a man who became super-powered because he, a nerdy skinny kid, just wanted to help his country out. It could be argued that the phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is exemplified more by Captain America than by Spider-Man.

Beyond that, his MCU films showed non-comic fans that the MCU didn’t have to primarily concerned with action scenes. They showed us that, beyond being enjoyable popcorn flicks, the MCU also had meaningful commentary to make. This would cement the MCU as a worthy mega-franchise, which was – for a good number of years – the king of the box office.

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