With a new blockbuster movie due out July 22, 2011, Cap’s about to be exposed to audiences around the world in a big way. But truth be told, that’s all old hat for a character that’s been around since 1940, fought through war, death, and even his own untimely demise. Captain America remains today what he was created to be, the symbol of everything good and pure that his country stands for.
In 1940, Joe Simon, along with his partner Jack Kirby, created a character they named Captain America
. Both men had been morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany leading up to the United States involvement in World War II, and saw their character as a symbol of America. Captain America became extremely popular during the war and maintained that popularity afterwards.
In 1964, the character was revived by the superhero team The Avengers, quickly became their leader, and resumed his popularity with fans of a new generation. That popularity continues to this day, and finally, Captain America fans will be treated to a big screen, big budget, action film version.
But back to my original question: who is Captain America? Captain America is Steve Rogers, a scrawny 98 pound weakling, an artist with the heart of a patriot. After attempting to enlist in the army, he is rejected because of his poor physical stature. A general offers him the chance to join Project Rebirth, a secret military operation whose aim is to create the perfect soldier. Steve submits to the procedure, and is transformed into a peak physical specimen. No longer a weakling, he can now fight for his country against the evil Nazi powers. Soon after his transformation, the scientist responsible is murdered, thereby leaving Steve as the only living success of the Super Soldier Serum. But one Captain America is all the U.S. needs to turn the tide against the Axis Powers. Armed only with his shield, and accompanied by his faithful sidekick Bucky Barnes, Cap fights for truth, liberty, and American Ideals.
After losing his partner Bucky in a mission gone wrong, Steve is dropped into the ocean and becomes frozen in ice. He lies in this state for years, before he is found by the original Avengers. Cap is unfrozen and finds himself a man out of time, still haunted by the death of Bucky. But he finds that although much has changed since he’s been away, evil still threatens innocent people everywhere. So he joins with the Avengers and leads them in fighting evil wherever it may be.
So who is Captain America? He’s a superhero who fought Nazis in World War II. He’s been a successful comic book character for years, and he’s soon to be a movie star. But at the heart of it, Captain America is a man who yearns to do well. He protects the innocent and punishes the wicked. He’s that scrawny little kid in all of us that knows he can be a giant, if only his potential can be unleashed. That’s who Captain America is.