Everyone remembers that scene in the Infinity War trailer where Captain America is leading a group of other heroes into battle, including Bucky, Black Panther, and the Hulk. Avengers: Infinity War is one of the hottest movies of 2018, and just about everyone is excited for it. And of course, it’ll involve the star spangled man himself, Captain America. Everyone loves superheroes, and Captain America is one of the more famous ones, alongside the rest of the Avengers and Spider-Man. The first era of comic books was the Golden Age, between 1938 and 1950. Heroes first started out as heroes without superpowers, such as Popeye and The Phantom (The Four Ages). The first Superman comics were introduced in 1938, and eventually this would lead into the Marvel comics and superheroes. But the center of our topic is about Captain America. What makes him so popular? Captain America is popular because he represents patriotism and liberty, and also tackles important issues of eras that his comics are prevalent in.
Captain America debuted in March, 1941. At that time, World War II was going on, making Captain America based around a patriotic all-American boy who punched Nazis in the face. Now, World War II began in 1939, and ended in 1945. It would come to be known as the most destructive war in all of world history, totaling over 60 million people killed, both military and civilians. There is no specific event that kickstarted the war, but many historians agree that it may have been inevitable after the Treaty of Versailles was signed and plunged Germany into a massive depression, filling them with vengeance and anger (The Week). Adolf Hitler began to slowly rise through the ranks at this time. He promised he would bring Germany back to greatness. Hitler caused Germany to invade Poland, and that was when Britain’s Prime Minister officially declared war. Germany, Japan, and Italy were allied on one side known as the Axis Powers, while the Allies consisted of Great Britain, France, America (who would join later on), China and the Soviet Union.
Captain America was very patriotic, who stood for freedom and liberty, and was highly against communism. He was the superhero that punched all the baddies in the face: Adolf Hitler, Emperor Hirohito after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, communists. He embodied the patriotic nature that was highly against the Axis during World War II, which was why people were so drawn to him. According to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, “they needed a hero who could embody the American intervention they believed was right” when the USA still wouldn’t join the war effort in 1940 (74 Years). Captain America was like their representative of their disdain for the fascist countries, believing that freedom and democracy was what they all needed. And so Captain America’s popularity shone and skyrocketed during this time period. After the end of WWII however, his popularity began to wane because there was no more Hitlers or Hirohitos to beat up, and so he and his sidekick Bucky were put to rest in ice, and quite literally, too (Captain America).
And then came the rise of the modern age. Captain America was finally back in more action. Bucky was revived as the Winter Soldier. We all remember Captain America: Civil War, right? The political battle between him and Iron Man, where you were either Team Iron Man or Team Cap. It also resonates on a level with us in that it’s about two political spheres clashing: Iron Man wants more government control on the Avengers to reign them in to cause less damage to both property and citizens. Captain America wants less control, because he believes that the Avengers should play their role in saving lives whenever needed. And like in America, many are divided into political spheres. The most prominent example would be the Republicans vs the Democrats. The divides that exist in our country currently are issues that Captain America’s comics poke at, bringing them up to our attention and focusing our efforts on what would be the best for the country.
So back to our original question, what makes Captain America popular? Captain America is popular in different ages because he represents the situation that is currently happening in that era. In World War II he’s the patriotic hero who’s going to defeat all the Nazis and free the world from fascism and communism. In Civil War, he still represents freedom, because he wants Avengers to have the freedom to save countless of lives. If Captain America has impacted us so greatly, what other superheroes have made large impacts, and what do they represent to us? Maybe Captain America was right in his belief during Civil War. He stood for freedom and liberty, and with that freedom, he could go off freely around the world to rescue as many lives as he could and spread goodness in all.
Article by Tifany Wong & Video by Karly Talbot
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