Since he first appeared punching the Führer of the third reich on the cover of Captain America Comics #1 in 1941, Captain America has been the literal physical embodiment of American patriotism and ideology in comic book format. He's so American, he'd stand for truth, justice, and the American way if they hadn't all been trademarked by his equally American DC counterpart. His whole character is that yes, he really is as blatantly flag-waving and gently patriarchal as he comes across as.
Though simple on the surface, this actually makes him surprisingly complex and compelling, partially because, as the avatar of American ideals, he is forced to reflect how America itself isn't exactly a perfect nation. Yes, just like his namesake, Captain America has more than a few skeletons tucked away in his closet, which is presumably filled with American flags and a collection of old military uniforms. And while Marvel loves to hold him up as the paragon of patriotism, there can be no hidden secrets in the information age. With that in mind, here are 15 things Marvel wants you to forget about their so-called 'First Avenger' who didn't join the Avengers until 2 issues after they first formed.
15 HE BEAT UP THE PRESIDENT
Starting on strong footing, Marvel doesn't want to remind people of the time Captain America socked out the leader of the free world. Or the other time. The first came in Captain America #175 where Cap corners the leader of the Secret Empire (the first one) in the Oval Office after a fight on the White House lawn. Seeing no alternative, the leader unmasks himself, but is not seen by the reader, before committing suicide.
According to writer Steve Englehart, the leader was actually President Richard Nixon. The second time was in Captain America #344. Here, Viper infects a Ronald-Reagan-esque President with a toxin that transforms him into a snake-man. Cap comes to stop the infection and combat with the highest office in the land ensues.
14 HE LOST TO BATMAN. TWICE.
The Marvel Vs. DC comics showed readers what would happen when their favorite rival intellectual properties finally clashed in no-holds-barred battles. One of the most prominent fights was a sewer match between Marvel's Captain America and DC's Batman. It would be a fight for the ages, a war between the world's greatest detective and the perfect soldier, two men who represented the best aspects of their respective universes and were sure to bring their all to the fight.
Batman won in less than ten pages with Captain America not even getting in any offense. As if that wasn't bad enough, the YouTube phenomenon Deathbattle pitted the two heroes against each other once again, this time reviewing stats and abilities to fully measure the each of their potential. Batman won again, solidifying his superiority. As one of their most important characters, Marvel wants to keep his significant losses a deep secret.
13 HE'S GOT A HISTORY OF BEING ANTI-AMERICAN
Captain America is a captain who represents America and American values. It's right there in the name and Marvel wants you to remember how patriotic he is and would probably like the many, many times he's actually been at odds with America to be swept under the carpet.
There was the time he started the first Marvel Civil War by refusing to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. to suppress the anti-registration heroes. Then there's the less memorable time he was actually exiled as a traitor by none other than President Clinton. Most of his aforementioned rebrandings were due to being disenfranchised by the government. Not to mention that more than once he's been a Nazi (it's coming further down the list, be patient). Marvel is hesitant to admit that despite the big 'A' on his forehead, Captain America hasn't always been a patriot.
12 ALL HIS REBRANDINGS
Stever Rogers as Captain America is one of the most visually and narratively iconic characters in all of modern fiction. Marvel hypes this up just as much as DC does the likes of their holy trinity, so they certainly don't want you to remember the various times where Captain America simply wasn't Captain America. There was the post-Watergate period where he adapted the persona Nomad, a clearly Nightwing-inspired character born out of America's disillusion with its own government.
A little while later, he went black ops and became U.S. Agent. Then there was the time he was Super Patriot and the alternate reality where he was known simply as The Captain. Each of these incarnations were darker and typically less interesting than his regular form and frankly Marvel would love for you to forget that Steve Rogers was ever anything other than Captain America.
11 THEY WERE SUED OVER HIS COPYRIGHT MULTIPLE TIMES
As a character created under Timely Comics which later became Marvel Comics, Captain America is one of the company's oldest and most treasured characters. As such, they certainly don't want people to know that one of his creators, writer Joe Simon, has sued them twice over the rights to the character.
The first time was in 1966 when Simon claimed he was legally entitled to the renewal of the character's license, not Marvel. They settled out of court. The second case was in 1999 where new legislation allowed Simon to sue again for the rights of his creation. Marvel stated that due to the previous court case, Simon could not legally claim the rights. Once again, they settled out of court. Marvel desperately wants to keep the whole situation hush-hush.
10 HE WAS A JERK IN THE ULTIMATES
Marvel's whole gimmick as a company is that they make their characters as human a possible. In their Ultimate Universe however, they may have made them too human. Ultimate characters were heavily flawed, outright mean-spirited individuals. And among them, Ultimate Captain America still stood out as a grade-A jerk. His views and attitudes towards women and people of color are carried over from the '40s and more than once they've caused a strain with teammates where Captain constantly believe himself in the right.
When he's not beating up Bruce Banner just for being the Hulk, he's disparaging French people based on outdated stereotypes. His rant against the French was so famously mean, the Cap of the regular continuity made a point of mentioning how much he respected the Free French fighters of WWII. Marvel wants Captain America to be remembered as a polite father figure, not a superhero bully.
9 HE'S A LOVE MACHINE
One of the strangest unanswered questions in the MCU is of Steve's sexual experience. By all logic, Captain America was unable to seal the deal with Peggy Carter in the '40s, shared a completely aromantic kiss with Black Widow, and has only gotten to first base with Sharon Carter, meaning the good Captain has yet to punch his V-card. Not so in the comics where Rogers is known across various continuities as a ladies man.
Peggy, Sharon, and Widow have all bedded him on page but he's also slept with Natasha Stark, Wasp, Betsy Ross, Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Captain Marvel, Jane Foster, Jet Zola, and several others. His status as a time-displaced war hero must be as attractive as his drug-enhanced abs. Though to protect his pure and chaste image in the MCU, Marvel probably wants you to forget about just how many women Captain America has been with.
8 ALL HIS VILLAINS HAVE TO BE NAZIS
A common expression in comics is that a hero is only as good as their villains. If this is true, then Captain America breaks the mold. In his entire, 75-year comic book run, Captain America has had precisely five villains which have endured into the larger pop culture: Red Skull, Baron von Strucker, Baron Zemo, Anrim Zola, and Winter Soldier who doesn't count because he eventually became a hero.
Every other villain Captain has fought, including Dr. Faustus, Walking Stiletto, and freaking Doughboy, have been at best forgettable and at worst laughably campy. Turns out the only interesting villains Captain America can fight are Nazis. And Marvel wants you to forget that they've had to do a ton of retconning to get him new and old Nazis to fight in the modern age.
7 HIS FIRST MOVIES
Right now in the MCU, Captain America is underground with his Secret Avengers, growing a beard for his appearance in Avengers: Infinity War. As such a critical aspect of their massive film franchise, Marvel definitely wants you to forget the first two times he was put to screen. Thanks to the internet, many know of the 1990 cinematic catastrophe starring Matt Salinger and the two made-for-TV films in 1979 that were so campy, they put the '60s Batman show to shame.
However, not everyone knows about the 1944 pulp film staring Dick Purcell as Captain America. He wasn't Steve Rogers, didn't have a shield, and didn't fight Nazis. All he did was wear the ionic uniform, albeit with a prominent beer gut, and shoot some bad guys. He was Captain America in name only.
6 THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY CAPTAIN AMERICAS
Because of the MCU, Marvel has conditioned its audience to think of Captain America as Steve Rogers and whenever the shield is shifted to another character in the comics, it inevitably makes its way back to Rogers. This might be a tactic to distract from just how many people have claimed the title of Captain America.
Apart from the well-known ones such as Bucky and Falcon, there was the "first Captain America" Isaiah Bradley, Rogers's replacement William Nasland, his replacement Jeffery Mace, the history professor William Burnside, Roger's second replacement Roscoe Simmons, and the former U.S. Agent John Walker. Dave Rickford, Bob Russo, and 'Scar' Turpin have also taken a turn as Captain America as well as Danielle Cage, Scott Summers, Kiyoshi Morales, and Roberta Mendez. Since only three versions of Cap have been introduced in the movies, Marvel wants you to forget how many people have held the shield.
5 HE'S A BLATANT RIP OFF OF THE SHIELD
Captain America is more than just a character, he's a symbol of anti-fascist, pro-American propaganda compacted in the firm but nonthreatening patriarch of the Marvel Universe. Because of his iconic status, Marvel would really like people to forget that his 1941 debut immediately drew criticism in part for his similarities to MLJ Comics character the Shield.
First appearing only a year before Captain America, the Shield wore a star-spangled outfit where the most identifying feature was a large, invulnerable shield that covered his entire torso. He also was a political tool, fought Nazis, and had a young boy sidekick months before Captain America did the same. Perhaps most damning was the fact that Cap's first shield was identical to the one on the Shield's chest. Marvel has always been frantic to cover up the notion that their literal flag-bearer is a clear a theft of intellectual property.
4 HE INITIALLY RECEIVED SEVERE BACKLASH
At this point, hating Captain America seems as evil as hating puppies. Considering the first impression he gave to readers was his fist under Hitler's jaw, you'd think comic readers in 1941 would share that ideology. You'd be wrong. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into WWII, there was a contingency of Americans who supported fascism and took offense to seeing their idol being socked by a man who looked like their flag.
Creator Joe Simon received hate mail and death threats which reached such severity that New York Policemen were protectively stationed outside of his office and he was contacted by then-mayor Fiorello La Guardia who personally urged him to continue his work. In an age where American politics have been thrown into a dangerously inconsistent flux, Marvel doesn't want people to know that their symbol of patriotism wasn't initially considered an avatar of public spirit.
3 HE WAS FROZEN IN ICE BECAUSE HIS COMIC GOT CANCELED
An integral part of Captain America's character is that he's a man out of time. At the end of WWII, he sacrificed himself to save millions and was frozen in the arctic until he was thawed out decades later, forcing him to reinvent the idea of the idealist goody-two-shoes for the 21st century. What Marvel wants you to forget is that he was only frozen because without WWII to sell propaganda, Captain America faded from interest and his comic line was cancelled in 1949.
Though he made sporadic appearances throughout the next few years, his first significant comeback came in 1964 when fans responded well to a poll sent out by Stan Lee. He reintroduced Cap in The Avengers #4, creating the retcon that he'd been frozen in the Atlantic. Marvel certainly want it forgotten that Captain America couldn't sustain himself post-war and they froze him as a result.
2 HE WAS TURNED INTO A NAZI BEFORE
In 2017, it appears Marvel has thrown all their chips into the Secret Empire basket, relying on the event as hard as the DCEU is currently relying on Wonder Woman. And the controversy that jump started interest in the title? The reveal in Captain America: Steve Rogers that Steve Rogers was and always had been a deep-cover Hydra agent. What Marvel wants you to forget about this is that they've actually gone down this path before.
In a 1979 storyline in Captain America Vol.1, Rogers is brainwashed by Dr. Faustus and the Grand Director into thinking he's a Nazi hero. He repaints his iconic shield into a swastika design and attacks a group of protesters before he is stopped and reverted to normal by Daredevil. So while you're reading the latest Secret Empire, Marvel doesn't want you to remember that they've basically done this before.
1 HE WAS A DRUGGIE
There was a period in comic books where everyone was obsessed with anti-drug messages. Speedy had to get off speed, Harry Osborn popped pills, and Captain America did meth. Now there's nothing wrong with promoting an anti-illegal substance message, but when it involves the figurehead of America clucking like a chicken, it risks coming off as more silly than cautionary.
The story goes that Diamondback trapped Cap in a warehouse filled with meth and then blew it up, forcing him to inhale the fumes. The artists give Cap bulging red eyes and a scruffy five-o'clock shadow, but the writers clearly didn't know the effects of meth. Cap attacks other heroes and air just because, and is forced to detox all drugs, including the Super Solider Serum from his body. Though Marvel probably doesn't want people to do meth, they also want them to forget that Captain America did.
Are there other facts about Captain America that we missed? Let us know in the comments!