A man in a uniform always makes a statement. Especially when he’s a 6’2 , 220 pounds of pure muscle, all American boy, super solider. Captain America isn’t only the favorite son of the United States, he is also the Golden Boy of the Golden Age of Comics. Which is something spectacular considering that Captain America has been a beacon for the American public through some of its darkest history of the twentieth century.
When the meek Steve Rodgers enlisted in the United States Army the United states was months away from suffering one of the worst blows it had felt on domestic soil. With the help pf the super solider serum Captain American emerged to the world nine months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States ‘ entry into the second World War. The Captain America’s first villain was Hitler, and from that first issue where the Cap punches the genocidal German, an American icon was born.
Starting in 1941 with his debut Captain America has had quite the journey. With his all American looks, charm, manners, and devotion to his country, the Captain was the ideal man of the time. He was the personification of the American dream. Though it was aided by science Rodgers’ transformation to the Cap mimics the dream to make something of yourself.
Captain America carried the banner of American spirit and pride through the years of the war. But as the war came to a close, his popularity dwindled. America was winning, his purpose of a icon for the war effort was done. The Cap was retired in 1945. That is until the 1950’s.
The Captain once again donned his star spangled uniform and be a positive symbol for the war effort but the American public was starting to become sick of the war and turned their back on their once golden boy. The Cap was once again put on ice.
But the world moves on and America soon had a new enemy and a new fear. The Red Scare to be exact, and with it a new villain, the Red Skull. The Captain, awaken from his artic vacation, once more took his place as America’s hero and enjoyed a continuing popularity as America’s competition and relationship with the Soviet Union began to heat up. This time he adjusted with the times, when the space race rolled around he battled the Red Skull in space.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall popularity dwindled but Cap wasn’t put out to pasture. Bidding his time Captain America joined alliances with several other superheroes to take down the soviet run villainous group Hydra that seemed to survive where the country could not. This filled the Captain’s day until the early 2000’s when he meets a new enemy.
Captain American is introduced to al-Tariq and his band of terrorists as America enters another dark point in its history. The Cap was greeted with popularity levels similar to those of the 1940s. Currently he is one of the top ten superheroes. Today he is still the ideal all American boy but also a slice of a simpler, kinder time that we seem to be striving to return to. He still stands for American pride, justice and patriotism but the patriotism that comes, not from blindly following government officials, but from doing the right thing.
Pop culture has taken up the Captain as one of their Golden boys as well. With several movies like Captain America, Winter Soldier and the Avenger franchise, the Captain is once again on top of the Marvel world. He is a much needed injection of American pride for the American public.