Independence Day: Is it time to get Captain America off the patriotic pedestal?
Values, heart, courage, determination and practically the paragon of virtue — that's what makes Captain America such a fan-favorite. He has heart and soul and does what he believes is the right thing to do. He's usually the stoic hero who can't even dream of doing something unethical, no matter the cause and reason. But when we take our favorite hero off the golden pedestal for a few minutes, we realize that he is just as human as the rest of us, perhaps... more so than others. He makes mistakes and rather nightmarish ones at that. Whether it is being casually racist, going a little overboard in duels or being affiliated to the Nazis in an alternate timeline, Steve Rogers stands testimony to the statement that our idols have feet of clay. But that doesn't make us love him less, because nobody's perfect.
On July 4, we examine Captain America as he is, and whether he really should be considered the emblem of patriotism and virtue. Let's be honest, the man has done and said a lot of questionable things in his existence of around 75 years.
Comic books were reflective of the era they were written in. And so, in the case of Captain America's storylines, the Super Serum was devised to ensure the victory of the Allies against the Nazis in World War II. Creators Simon and Jack Kirby brought Cap into the world, by having him delivering a punch to Hitler's face. While these comics echoed the sentiments of the time, there was also a fair share of racism. There are quite a few instances of this. For example, In Captain America Comics #6, Captain America makes this peculiar joke, "Here come some China boys, and they're not waving laundry tickets!"
Another jarring example is in the Captain America Comics #14, where a group of Native Americans blow up a truck containing Steve Rogers and his sidekick, Bucky. Cap switches into his Captain America uniform, and tells Bucky, "C'mon let's give their copper-colored hides some exercise!" This comic was written in 1942 when Native Americans had been official American citizens for 18 years. However, Cap seems to be alright with dropping some slurs here and there against them.
Decapitation, stabbing and double-homicide
Yes we know that this was against a villain, but to see such a dark side to the poster-boy of heroism, was something of a shock. So when Cap turned up in England, he fought against Baron Blood, the brother of an old comrade, Union Jack. Understandably, the only way to put a stop to Baron was killing him or he would continue his murderous rampage. So Cap had to summon his courage and put an end to this completely. Rather than stake his heart like you would do for most vampires, Cap decapitated Baron Blood using his shield. He might have had good intentions, but it was still pretty dark.
Comic-book lovers will remember how Cap killed Lenny, the henchman for the sinister Butterfly. In Captain America Comics #3, Steve Rogers scouring the local museum where the Butterfly has been scavenging for local artifacts. As his close friend Bucky doesn't turn up at the right time, Rogers heads to the museum, stays there till it closes, changes into his costume and starts investigating.
Lenny pretends to be the museum curator's assistant and draws a knife, but before he can attack, Captain America snaps a horn off of a dinosaur skeleton that's nearby and throws it at Lenny's heart. The Butterfly, who is the curator of the museum shoots at Cap, and our Avengers throws his shield at him, knocking him to the ground and snapping his neck. Cap doesn't feel a stroke of remorse, and walks away with Bucky saying, "It's a great day for justice!" They laugh.
Meticulous death traps
We are used to diabolic villains spending days planning elaborate death traps. But hey, the perfect Captain America does it too, and this wasn't even in self-defense. In 'Captain America #113', Cap plans a grand scheme that begins with him faking his own death, and then goes on to fill his motorbike with fuel and detonates it among numerous Hydra agents. Yes, our hero had the perfect plan for premeditated murder and didn't have much guilt either for it. So next time Cap waxes eloquent about taking lives, remember this storyline!
Well, this one is painful. In the current comics, Marvel has abandoned the hero image of Captain America and seems to be committed to a more sinister version of him. These days, our Star-spangled hero is better known as Hydra-Cap. He even murdered Phil Coulson (Yes, you read that right).
SHIELD agent Phil Coulson has always supported Cap, but he realizes that something is severely off with Cap. He learns that Cap is a double-agent for Hydra, before he received the Super-Serum. And so, Cap decides to manipulate Deadpool into doing the unthinkable. Cap encourages Deadpool to shoot Coulson, and the merc with a motor-mouth does so. He shoots Coulson in the heart to prevent him from sharing Cap's dark secrets.
The knife continues to be twisted in our hearts that were once full of love for Cap. In Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, the Cap-is-Hydra twist blame was squarely pinned on Red Skull, who allegedly used a Cosmic Cube to alter Steve Rogers' history. In 'Secret Empire #0', we learn that's not the truth. The Allies apparently rewrote history using the Cosmic Cube, emerging as the victors, making Captain America the poster-boy for patriotism.
Basically, Red Skull didn't create an alternate history but restored Cap to his original timeline. Steve Rogers has been Hydra since the beginning, and he has been trying his best to return the world to anarchy. So in this comic series, Cap cozies up with the Nazis, salutes Hitler, and is now the Supreme Leader of the Hydra High Council. Oh, he also kills his best friend, Bucky Barnes, and even throws his old protege out of the plane with calming words, "Hail Hydra".
However, 'Secret Empire' has been rewritten again, and we've got our hero back. On that happy note, we leave you to celebrate July 4.