Captain America

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Template:Superherobox Captain America, the alter ego of Steve Rogers (in some accounts Steven Grant Rogers), is a Marvel Comics superhero. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Timely Comics' Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941).

Publication history

Captain America was the most prominent of a wave of patriotically themed superheroes that American comic book companies introduced during World War II. With his sidekick Bucky, Captain America faced Nazis and Japanese troops during his 1940s heyday, but the hero faded into obscurity after the war.

In 1964, by which point Timely had evolved into Marvel Comics, Captain America was revived with the explanation that he had fallen from an experimental drone plane into the North Atlantic in the final days of the war and spent the past decades frozen in a state of suspended animation. (Retellings sometimes place the event over the English Channel.) The hero found a new generation of readers as the leader of the all-star group the Avengers and in a new solo series.

Since then, Captain America has been a much more serious and less jingoistic hero. Writers have used the character to reflect the conflict between politics and ideology by placing him at odds with the United States government and angry and troubled about the state of the country. He considers himself dedicated to defending America’s ideals rather than its political leadership, a conviction summed up when Captain America confronted an army general who tried to manipulate him by appealing to his loyalty. Rogers responded, "I'm loyal to nothing, General.. except the Dream." (Daredevil #233, August 1986)

Captain America was one of the most popular characters that Marvel Comics (then known as Timely) had during the Golden Age of Comic Books. With World War II over and his main reason for existence (as a fictional war hero) receding into the past, the character's popularity faded. He was briefly revived, along with the original Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner by Marvel's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, in Young Men #24-28 (June 1953-May 1954)) as an anti-Communist superhero., but sales were poor. In the 1970s, that version would be retconned into a successor user of the name. Marvel has repeatedly revised the Captain America continuity; the character's unbreakable ties to a specific time period make it particularly difficult for the series to avoid conspicuous anomalies and inconsistencies.

Character biography

1940s - Operation: Rebirth

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Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), art by Jack Kirby.

In current Marvel Universe history, Steven Rogers was a scrawny American fine arts student specializing in illustration in the early 1940s before America's entry into World War II. He was disturbed by the rise of the Third Reich enough to attempt to enlist only to be rejected due to his poor constitution. By chance, an Army officer looking for test subjects for a top secret defense research project offered Rogers an alternate way to serve his country. The officer was looking for suitable test subjects for a top secret defense research project, Operation: Rebirth. This project consisted of developing a means to create physically superior soldiers and Rogers was deemed ideal.

Rogers agreed to volunteer for the research and after a rigorous physical and combat training and selection process, was chosen as the first human test subject. He received injections and oral ingestions of a chemical formula that was termed the Super-Soldier Serum, which had been developed by the scientist Dr. Emil Erskine (who was code-named "Dr. Reinstein"). Rogers was then exposed to a controlled burst of "Vita-Rays" that activated and stabilized the chemicals in his system. Although the process was arduous physically, it successfully altered his physiology from its relatively frail form to the maximum of human efficiency, including greatly enhanced musculature and reflexes.

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Captain America Vol. 5, #5, together with fellow Invaders Namor and the Human Torch. Art by Steve Epting.

At this moment, a Nazi spy revealed himself and shot Erskine. Because the scientist had committed the crucial portions of the Super-Soldier formula to memory, it could not be duplicated. Rogers killed the spy in retaliation (retconned in the 1960s so that the spy accidentally killed himself by fleeing headlong into an "electrical omniverter") and vowed to oppose the enemies of America. The United States government, making the most of its one super-soldier, reimagined him as a superhero who served both as a counter-intelligence agent and a propaganda symbol to counter Nazi Germany's head of terrorist operations, the Red Skull. To that end, Rogers was given a costume modeled after the American flag, a bulletproof steel shield, a personal sidearm and the codename Captain America. He was also given a cover identity as a clumsy infantry private at Camp LeHigh in Virginia. Barely out of his teens himself, Rogers he made friends with the teenage camp mascot, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes.

Barnes accidentally learned of Roger's dual identity and offered to keep the secret if he could become Captain America's sidekick. Rogers agreed, and trained Barnes appropriately. By this time Rogers had met President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who presented him with a new shield made from a chance mixture of iron, vibranium and an unknown catalyst. The alloy was indestructible, yet the shield was light enough to use as a discus-like weapon that could be angled to return to him. (In several stories, due to writer error, the shield was described as an adamantium-vibranium alloy.) It proved so effective that the sidearm was dropped. Throughout World War II, Captain America and Bucky fought the Nazi menace both on their own and as members of the superhero team the Invaders (beginning with 1970s comics), which after the war evolved into the All-Winners Squad (in 1940s comics).

Rogers was not the first to be given the Super Soldier formula. It was revealed years later that while Rogers was still being assessed, some military members of the project felt that a non-soldier was not the right candidate and secretly gave Erskine's incomplete formula to Clinton McIntyre. However, this made McIntyre violently insane, and he had to be subdued and placed in cold storage. The criminal organization AIM would later revive McIntyre as the homicidal Protocide. (Captain America Annual, 2000).

A beta version of the formula was given to Isaiah Bradley, who became the only survivor of a group of African-American soldiers that "Reinstein" and the military experimented on in 1942. After the last two members of his group were killed, Bradley stole the costume meant for Rogers and wore it on a suicide mission to destroy the Nazi super-soldier effort at a German concentration camp. Bradley was captured, but eventually rescued and court martialed. He was imprisoned for 17 years in Leavenworth until he was pardoned by President Eisenhower. By the time of his release, the long-term effects of the formula turned Bradley into a hulking, sterile giant with the mentality of a 7-year-old. Rogers would not find out about Bradley until decades later (Truth: Red, White and Black, 2003). The Patriot, a member of the Young Avengers, has been revealed to be the grandson of Isaiah Bradley.

According to files in the Weapons Plus Program, a clandestine government organization devoted to the creation of superhumans to combat and eventually exterminate mutants, Rogers was "Weapon I", the first generation living weapon. Following his disappearance, the following installments of the Weapon Plus Program moved on to new attempts to create the ultimate weapon, experimenting on animals, racial minorities, criminals and eventually mutants, with results such as Wolverine, Deadpool and Fantomex (New X-Men #145, October 2003).

In the closing days of World War II in 1945, Captain America and Bucky tried to stop the villainous Baron Zemo from destroying an experimental drone plane. Zemo launched the plane with an armed explosive device on it, with Rogers and Barnes in hot pursuit. They reached the plane just before it took off, but when Bucky tried to defuse the bomb, it exploded in mid-air. The young man was killed instantly, and Rogers was hurled into the freezing waters of either the North Atlantic or the English Channel (accounts differ). His body was not found, and he was presumed dead.

Late 1940s–1950s - After Steve Rogers

Fearing a blow to morale if the news of Captain America's demise was revealed, President Truman asked William Naslund, the Golden Age patriotic costumed hero known as the Spirit of '76, to assume the role, with a young man named Fred Davis as Bucky. They continued to serve in the same roles after the war with the All-Winners Squad, until Naslund was fatally injured in a battle with the android Adam II in 1946 (What If? #4, August 1977). With Naslund's death, Jeff Mace, also known as the Golden Age Patriot, took over as Captain America, with Davis continuing to act as Bucky. However, Davis was shot and injured in 1948 and forced to retire. Mace then teamed up with Betsy "Golden Girl" Ross, and some time before 1953 gave up his Captain America identity to marry her. Mace contracted cancer and died some decades later (Captain America #285, September 1983).

In 1953, an unnamed man who idolized Captain America and had done his American History Ph.D. thesis on Rogers discovered some Nazi files in a warehouse in Germany, one of which apparently contained the lost formula for the Super Soldier serum. He took it to the United States government on the condition that they use it to make him the fourth Captain America. Needing a symbol for the Korean War, they agreed, and the man underwent plastic surgery to look like Steve Rogers, even assuming that name. However, the war ended and the project never went forward. "Rogers" found a teaching job at the Lee School, where he met Jack Monroe, a young orphan who also idolized Captain America. They decided to use the formula on themselves and became the new Captain America and Bucky, this time fighting the so-called Communist scourge (Young Men #24-28, Dec. 1953-May 1954). These stories were written by Stan Lee with art by a young John Romita Sr.

"Rogers" and Monroe did not know of and therefore did not undergo the "Vita-Ray" process, however. The imperfect implementation of the formula in their systems made them paranoid, and by the middle of 1954 they were irrationally attacking anyone they perceived to be a Communist. In 1955 the FBI placed them in suspended animation. The 1950s Captain America and Bucky would be revived years later after the return of Steve Rogers, go on another rampage, and be defeated by the man they had modeled themselves after (Captain America #153, Sept. 1972).

1960s - The return of Steve Rogers

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Avengers Vol. 1, #4 (March 1964), art by Jack Kirby.

In Avengers #4 (March 1964), the Avengers discovered Steve Rogers's body in the North Atlantic, his costume under his soldier's uniform and still carrying his shield. Rogers had been preserved in a block of ice since 1945, which melted after the block was thrown back into the ocean by the Sub-Mariner, enraged that an Arctic tribe was worshipping the frozen figure. When Rogers revived, he related his last, failed mission in the closing days of the war. Rogers accepted membership in the Avengers, and although he soon adjusted to modern times well enough to eventually assume leadership of the team, he was plagued by guilt for not being able to prevent Bucky's death. He also undertook missions for the national security agency S.H.I.E.L.D., which was commanded by his old war comrade Nick Fury.

Captain America was once again given his own series (now in its fifth incarnation), which has lasted decades longer than its original run. The book initially enjoyed the artwork of Jack Kirby as well as a short run by Jim Steranko, and many of the industry's top artists and writers have worked on the book. The most notable stories often had a political tone to them.

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Cover to Captain America #180 (Dec. 1974). Captain America assumes the "Nomad" identity. Art by Gil Kane.

For example, during Steve Englehart's stint as writer, Rogers encountered his revived 1950s counterpart and dealt with the Marvel Universe's version of the Watergate scandal. This last story so severely disillusioned Rogers that he abandoned his Captain America identity in favour of one called Nomad only to reassume it to face the menace of the Red Skull, this time as a symbol of America's ideals rather than its government. During this time, several men tried to assume the Captain America identity, all without success. Jack Monroe, cured of his mental instability, would, years later, take up the Nomad alias. (Captain America #176-#183, 1974-1975).

1980s

In the 1980s, a similar story was written by Mark Gruenwald when Rogers chose to resign his identity rather than submit to the orders of the United States government and took the alias of "The Captain" instead. This extended story arc was intended to illustrate the difference of Captain America's beliefs from his replacement who was intended to illustrate the jingoistic attitude that the popular movie character Rambo embodied and which Rogers did not share. During this period, the role of Captain America was assumed by John Walker, the former Super-Patriot. When Rogers returned to his Captain America identity, Walker became the USAgent (Captain America #332-#351, 1987-1989).

Some time after returning to the position of Captain America, Rogers narrowly avoided the explosion of a methamphetamine lab, but it triggered a chemical reaction between the drug and the Super-Soldier serum in his system. To combat this reaction, the serum was removed from his system, and now Rogers had to train constantly to maintain his physical condition. (This storyline was partly prompted by reader concerns that Captain America was effectively the beneficiary of steroid treatments.)

However, the removal of the serum did not stop his system from deteriorating, and eventually Rogers's body began to break down. For a time, he had to wear a powered exoskeleton to keep moving and eventually had to be placed again in suspended animation. During this time, he was given a transfusion of blood from the Red Skull (who now inhabited a body cloned from Rogers's cells), which both cured his condition and restored the Super-Soldier formula to his system. Captain America returned both to crime fighting and the Avengers (Captain America #425-#454, 1994-1996).

2000s

Recently, Rogers went public with his identity, and established a residence in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

Powers and abilities

Rogers has no superhuman powers. However, as a result of the Super-Soldier serum, he was transformed from a frail young man into a "nearly perfect" specimen of human development and conditioning. Captain America is as strong, fast, agile, and durable as it is possible for a human being to be without being considered superhuman. Mentally, his battle experience and training has also made him an expert tactician and an excellent field commander, with his teammates frequently deferring to his orders in battle. Rogers's reflexes and senses are also extraordinarily keen, and he is skilled in all forms of hand-to-hand combat, Years of practice with using his indestructible shield has made it practically an extension of his own body, and he is able to aim and throw it with almost unerring accuracy.

Rogers has used several shields over the years. His first shield was badge-shaped. After complaints by a rival comics company that it too closely resembled the symbol of its superhero The Shield, Captain America's shield was replaced in Captain America Comics #2 with the disc-shaped indestructible one. When he returned from suspended animation, Tony Stark "improved" the shield by incorporating electronic and magnetic components in it so that Rogers could even control it in flight. However, Rogers soon discarded the additional components because he found that it upset the balance of the shield.

When Rogers gave up the costume and shield to John Walker and became the Captain, he used a pure adamantium shield provided, once again, by Stark. Rogers returned this shield to Stark, however, when he learned that Stark wanted Rogers not to interfere with Stark's efforts to retrieve his Iron Man technology from others by force. Rogers then turned to the Black Panther, who provided him with a vibranium shield. When Rogers reassumed the Captain America identity, he regained his indestructible shield along with his costume.

Rogers has also used two energy shields, during periods when the indestructible shield was unavailable — a cool-temperature plasma shield that was later reconfigured as a photon shield, both provided by S.H.I.E.L.D. technicians. The photon shield worked by creating a force field whose frequency mimicked a vibranium matrix, being able to store and return energy in that fashion. Both energy shields were controlled by an emitter in the uniform's gloves, expanding only when needed. Despite all these, however, Rogers has always returned to using the indestructible shield that is most associated with him, although he has admitted he found the versatility of the photon shield valuable in combat.

Alternate Captain Americas

Captain Americat

Captain Americat is an antrophomorphic cat, a parody of Captain America. He is shown only in the Spider-Ham comic books. Captain Americat's secret identity is Steve Mouser, a reporter for the Daily Beagle (a parody of Spider-Man's Daily Bugle).

Appearances in other media

A 1944 movie serial called Captain America portrayed the hero as a district attorney named Grant Gardner and arbitrarily removed many other important elements of the character, such as his shield and his sidekick, Bucky. The 1966 syndicated animated TV series Marvel Super-Heroes included "Captain America" segments. The primitive animation was largely composed of stills photostatted from Jack Kirby art. There were two unexceptional 1979 TV movies, Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon starring Reb Brown. A direct-to-video movie, Captain America (1991), starring Matt Salinger, earned highly negative reviews. It depicted the hero's battle against the Red Skull, who in the film was an Italian fascist rather than a German Nazi.

Captain America made two appearances in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, in the episodes 7 Little Superheroes and Pawns of the Kingpin. He also appeared in the fourth season of the X-Men Animated Series to fend off Nazis as a fellow soldier and friend of Wolverine in the episode Old Soldiers.

Captain America appeared in the 1990s Spider-Man animated television series, in the "Six Forgotten Warriors" story arc. In this, Captain America and the Red Skull are trapped in a stasis device.

Captain America (along with Nick Fury) also made an appearance in the animated series X-Men: Evolution. In the episode Operation Rebirth, Rogers got his abilities from a machine used as part of Project: Rebirth. During World War II, he participated in a joint operation with a Canadian soldier named Logan to liberate a concentration camp. One of the prisoners was a boy named Erik Lehnsherr. After the attack, it was revealed that the Rebirth process was killing Rogers, so he and Logan destroyed the machine and Rogers was cryogenically frozen until a cure could be found. Lehnsherr would grow up to become Magneto and acquire a duplicate of the Rebirth technology, having discovered it could be used safely on mutants to prolong their life and vitality. The duplicate technology was destroyed by Wolverine, Rogue, and Nightcrawler.

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Capcom fighting game version

Captain America has also appeared in several prose novels, notably 1998's Captain America: Liberty's Torch by Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll, in which the hero is put on trial for the imagined crimes of America by a hostile militia group.

Captain America has appeared in several video games. He was one of four playable characters in Captain America and the Avengers (1991). He later appeared in Capcom's Marvel Super-Heroes and the subsequent Marvel vs. Capcom series.

Pop culture references

The phrase "Captain America" has been used to refer ironically to American patriotic values, especially in rock music. The 1978 Kinks song "Catch Me Now, I'm Falling", about the ailing U.S. economy in the late 1970s, refers to "Captain America calling". Jam band moe. composed a song called "Captain America" which deals with Captain America as an authority figure. The Guns N' Roses' song "Paradise City" also contains a reference to Captain America. Jimmy Buffett recorded a song in 1977 titled "Captain America," offering a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the hero, replete with a kazoo solo, and the phrase, "He wears a mask, his clothes are weird, and some folks call him hokey. But he is hip, he just can't dig the Okie from Muskogee."

The Marine Recon unit in Evan Wright's 2005 nonfiction bestseller Generation Kill derisively referred to their overzealous commander as Captain America.

Peter Fonda's character in the iconic 1969 film Easy Rider was nicknamed "Captain America." According to the "making of" feature on the DVD edition of the film, director Dennis Hopper described the two motorcyclists of the film to actor Robert Walker, Jr., who said "they sound like Captain American and Bucky" and Hopper liked the name.

In the 1997 film Men in Black, Will Smith's character refers to an overzealous Army lieutenant as "Captain America".

Bibliography

List of titles

Template:Expand list

  • Captain America Comics #1-75 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (March 1941 - February 1950)
  • USA Comics #6-17 (December 1942 - Fall 1945)
  • Captain America Comics #76-78 (May 1954 - September 1954)
  • Tales of Suspense #59-99 (November 1964 - March 1968)
  • Captain America (1968 series) #100-454 (April 1968 - August 1996)
  • Giant-Size Captain America (December 1975)
  • Marvel Treasury Special: Captain America's Bicentennial Battles (June 1976)
  • Marvel Fanfare (1982 series) #5, 18, 26, 29, 31-32
  • What If... (1984 series) #5, 26, 38, 44
  • What If... (1989 series) #3, 28-29, 67-68, 103
  • Adventures of Captain America - Sentinel of Liberty (1991 series) #1-4 (October 1991 - January 1992)
  • Captain America: The Medusa Effect (March 1994)
  • Captain America: Drug War (April 1994)
  • Captain America (1996 series) #1-13 (November 1996 - November 1997)
  • Captain America (1998 series) #1-50 (January 1998 - February 2002)
  • Captain America Sentinel of Liberty (1998 series) #1-12 (September 1998 - August 1999)
  • Captain America: Dead Men Running (2002 series) #1-3 (March 2002 - May 2002)
  • Captain America (2002 series) #1-32 (June 2002 - October 2004)
  • Truth: Red, White and Black by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker (2003 series) #1-#7.
  • Captain America: What Price Glory? (2003 series) #1-4 (May 2003)
  • Captain America & The Falcon (2004 series) #1-present (April 2004 - present)
  • Captain America by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (2004 series) #1-present (November 2004 - present)

See also

External links

de:Captain America es:Capitán América fr:Captain America pt:Capitão América sv:Captain America