“Some people move on. But not us…Not us.”
This quote is easily one of the early highlights of the trailer for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame film. Our team of super heroes has its back against the wall, and the future looks pretty glum. So cue Captain America to keep that fighting spirit alive. As we all know, Captain America “can do this all day,” but can he lead our group against the odds and actually reverse the course Thanos has set? Probably, but how he and the Avengers pull it off will remain a mystery until later this month.
What we do know is that Steve Rogers is the epitome of an American super hero. Since his first appearance in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941, the title character has been both a symbol of hope and justice for the American people…literally. Created with a political agenda in mind, the team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby produced a massively successful franchise for Timely Comics during one of the most economically and emotionally unstable times in U.S. history; however, some may be surprised to learn that the character’s popularity faltered early on. After the WWII concluded in 1945, the popularity of Captain America–and all super heroes, really–rapidly decreased. The company ultimately halted production in 1950 and didn’t truly revive the franchise until 1964. From that point forward, Captain America and his purpose in the Marvelverse have been through numerous changes of both the good and bad variety, yet his popularity has never really faltered amongst fans.
As we all know, the Timely Comics name changed several times but officially evolved into Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, and such transition also brought more creative opportunities to a writer by the name of Stan Lee. Captain America made his way into Lee’s super popular Fantastic Four title in 1963, but the story was used as a way to see if fans would like Captain America to be brought back into production. With an overall positive response, Stan Lee and his team reintroduced Captain America in The Avengers, and the story of his frozen in both time and ice arc was created. A few years later, a new origin story comes for Captain America, and Bucky Barnes was also reintroduced in a new fashion.
As accurately depicted in one my all-time favorite MCU films Captain America: The First Avenger, a frail Steve Rogers is constantly rejected by the U.S. Army due to his frail body, but he is ultimately chosen to participate in Project: Rebirth, which tests a Super-Soldier Serum created by Abraham Erskine. The serum ideally creates the perfect human being in terms of health and strength. Increased strength and metabolism allow for increased healing time, acute reflexes, heightened agility, and proneness to disease. Hence, he was able to survive a crash and survive in a frozen state. The knowledge and charisma that Steve Rogers possessed prior to the physical capabilities of the serum made him the ideal candidate for the trial and the perfect soldier.
Fun fact: In Captain America #3, Cap’s trademark vibranium shield throw was shown for the first time. This story was mostly composed by a young writer by the name of Stanley Lieber, but the writer went under the pen name Stan Lee for the issue.
Much like other Marvel titles, Captain America was not prone to legal battles between its creators and the company producing it. After revisiting its Golden Age popularity during its reiteration in the ’60s, original co-creator Joe Simon sued Marvel over his rights to renew the character’s copyright; however, such lawsuit never saw a verdict as the two sides settled outside of court. Simon sued for a second time decades later in 1999 under a new provision regarding copyright legislation, but Marvel referenced the previous settlement as grounds for the transfer of Cap’s rights. In all, the two parties settled outside of court for a second time, but this time Simon received royalties for merchandise featuring the character, which played out well–I’m sure–considering it was in 2003 before the MCU took shape.
Whether Captain America perishes in Endgame or makes it out alive, the character has had such a profound impact on the MCU. His iconic patriotism has inspired generations of fans, and Chris Evans has brought the character to life. In terms of an Endgame theory, I do believe he will sacrifice himself in some manner to benefit the greater good. This idea is far from revolutionary, but I draw my inspiration from that very first moment Dr. Erskine knew Steve was the man for the job. If you have been re-watching the films, maybe you had the same reaction I did when I saw the scene unfold for another time. I never picked up on how scared Steve was lying on top of that grenade. He genuinely thought he was going to die, but he wanted to save his fellow soldiers. To make this decision even more heroic, he was in a camp and not on the battle field. A live grenade in that setting would have been the product of an accident, but Rogers didn’t care. He was willing to die for those who ridiculed and mocked him, so imagine just what he would do for those he knew and loved.