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Understanding Captain America

When Steve Rogers transforms himself in an American flag costume with a bulletproof shield, he becomes Captain America. His powerlessness might bore you at once, but his sense of social awareness will surely surprise you.

His Roots

Captain America was first created in 1941 as a comics and its cover featured Cap punching Adolf Hitler. The first episode focuses on Steve Rogers, who was born on July 4, 1917, in New York. Having Irish parents who migrated to the US, Steve is a son out of the so-called “American dream.”

The rise of the Nazis provokes Steve to enter the military. His scrawniness almost prevents him from being a soldier but when an officer looks for someone to be injected with the Super-Soldier serum and become one of the country’s secret super soldiers, Steve volunteers and is accepted. The serum makes him stronger, faster, more efficient, muscular, and more handsome, of course. Prof. Reinstein, the Super-Soldier serum inventor, labels Steve as the first “nearly perfect human being.” Before the scientist could make another serum for the other soldiers, he is killed by a Nazi spy, leaving Steve as the sole super soldier of America.

The US government then makes Steve both an intelligence agent and a warrior against the Nazis.

His Strength

It is hard not to compare Captain America with the other run-of-the-mill superheroes, whose flaws lie in their individualistic nature and aggressiveness that causes huge casualties whenever they fight with their enemies. But Cap’s heroic prowess can be seen in his leadership skills and concern for the innocent ones. He knows how to preserve equality and justice and if all else fail, his beliefs will strengthen even more. While his fellow Avengers are busy showing off their powers, he roams around the streets making sure the humans are safe. Yes, he may thank the serum for making him a superhero, but his dedication to saving people has been the highlight of his heroism.

Captain America represents the best aspects of America: courage and honesty… A product of his times, however, Captain America’s image and origin mirror the American identity/dream of 1941. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Steve Rogers overcomes his own physical weakness to become a proud soldier for his country.

Stan Lee

His Weakness

America has long been bombarded with issues threatening its stability as a nation. And Cap is just as imperfect as his country. His character has also become the subject of many criticisms due to how America has been demonized in some of Captain America‘s comic series.

In 2010, Yahoo! News reported about Captain America‘s issue 602:

… the appearance that he is taking on the Tea Party Movement in a story line about investigating white supremacists has forced Marvel to apologize for the comic hero.

Allegedly, Cap has been mirroring the society since the beginning of his time.

Captain America: The New Deal (v. 4, # 3, 2003) acknowledge the September 11 attack by attempting to explore the roots of terrorism. However, its writer said that they do not tolerate terrorism; rather, they wanted to explain why these things happen. Now, this is something people do not usually see in superhero comics.

There is also an excerpt from the series where the US is being accused of manufacturing weapons and selling them across the world. But Captain America is there, right? Why didn’t he just prevent the making of weapons? Or the attack itself? That is exactly his point.

His Point

Cap could have just continued entertaining his fans and overlooked whatever needs to be overlooked. But the point is not all superheroes are into perfection and entertainment. They can also both represent and question their own countries and their corresponding ideologies, just like what their readers or viewers are supposed to do.

I remember a time when it was easy to feel pride in this ‘country.’ When ‘this’ country celebrated the victories of its loyal soldiers. When ‘this’ country was my country right or wrong. And most of the time it was right. But times have changed, haven’t they? The battles are less clear, the wars less noble, the cause less right, even in the shadows of 9/11. Dark men with a ’cause’ come at us like thieves in the night. Men who consider their ’cause’ noble. Men who consider their cause ‘holy.’ Men whose ideals carry power, and weight, and substance and make us seem wrong, but whose actions, reprehensible and vile, make murderers look right. This government can be wrong. Our politics can be flawed. We are, after all, a complex system run by human beings.

Captain America (v. 4, # 11, 2003)

This article originally appeared on English Magazines published by Vibal Group, Inc.