No other character in comics has punched Nazis more often than Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. At a time when the United States was reluctant to join another World War, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were appalled by the actions of the fascist Nazi regime. The two creators, sons of Jewish immigrants, decided to create a character that would take bold action needed to defeat evil, a controversial political stance at the time. The first issue of Captain America made its debut in December of 1940, a full year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor prompted America's entrance into the war.
Cap soon became Timely Comics most popular wartime character. Not only does Captain America predate Marvel Comics itself, but the character punched Hitler before any American troops fought the Axis. After the end of the war, Cap's loyal fans, known as the Sentinels of Liberty, began to lose interest in the formerly popular character. But once Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were firmly established at Marvel Comics, the pair decided to re-introduce Rogers. He quickly gained a steady audience, and has consistently been punching Nazis in the pages of Marvel Comics since 1964. Here are just 15 times over the last 76 years when Captain America punched Nazis.
Captain America wasn't the first comic to show Nazis as the villains -- but it was the first to feature Hitler himself getting pummeled. In a comic book cover that has been recreated and honored countless times since its debut, Captain America's first issue features Captain Steve Rogers giving Hitler a well-deserved beatdown. The now infamous story and art was co-created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
It was a big hit for Timely Comics, selling nearly one million copies, though not without controversy. The publisher received several death threats for the comic's depiction of Hitler being punched, prompting then New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to personally offer the creators protection. After America entered World War II, enthusiasm for punching Nazis quickly grew, along with Captain America's popularity.
Though the United States was on the right side of history in fighting the Nazis, Jim Crow-era racism was still an ugly reality inflicted upon African Americans at home and in the armed forces. Comics of the WWII era feature the patriotic heroics of Steve Rogers and other white characters, but people of color were often shown as shockingly racist caricatures.
In Truth: Red, White, and Black, writer Robert Morales and artist Kyle Baker revisit the era of Captain America's origin through the lens of African American servicemen. After volunteering to become subjects in new Super Soldier experiments, Isaiah Bradley and fellow black soldiers are sent on dangerous missions against the Axis powers. The story's hero is fittingly shown punching a few Nazis, while wearing Cap's stars and stripes, too.
Spoilers: Cap has died a few times over the years! In the never-ending cycle of superhero tales, publishers like to shake things up from time to time by killing their darlings. These plots offer creators the opportunity to bring the characters back in ways that reinforce their essence, reminding us why we loved them in the first place.
Writer Ed Brubaker's seminal run on Cap from the mid-2000's centered around Steve Roger's assassination, with Bucky Barnes taking his place as Captain America. The Reborn miniseries that followed revealed the truth behind Cap's death and eventual return, complete with flashbacks to his origins, too. The interiors have plenty of Nazi punching action, but artist Bryan Hitch's cover is a true masterpiece: a wrap around image of Cap with Hitler in a choke-hold.
Cap's origin story is not complete unless it includes some Nazi-punching, but what works in comics does not always work well in film. Luckily, the creators of Captain America: The First Avenger found a way to cleverly pay homage to the character's debut issue. One way to avoid a potentially hokey fight with Hitler? Lean into it.
Instead of fighting Nazis directly, Steve Rogers does his part to help the troops by starring in an over the top patriotic USO show. The brilliance of this scene is that it functions on so many levels. It features the classic Cap costume based on Joe Simon's original design, and the performance culminates with Cap taking out Hitler. In a final meta reference, we see soldiers and children reading the first Captain America comic -- complete with Hitler being punched on the front cover.
Ultimate Avengers: The Movie is an animated feature filled with great one liners from Captain America such as, "Okay soldiers, let's take this dump!" and "Haven't you heard? Hitler is dead!" Screenplay writer Greg Johnson deftly adapted the Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch comic for a younger audience, but this film is even more entertaining if you imagine it was first scripted and acted out with action figures by pre-teen Cap fans.
When Cap impales an SS officer with his shield, green tentacles escape his wounds, revealing the villain's true alien form. It's not nearly as graphic as how it played out in the comic book source material, but it is still a surprising turn of events that proves Nazis can in fact be made more disgusting.
During the epic "Winter Soldier" story arc by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting, the return of past enemies makes Steve Rogers question everything he thinks he knows about his history. At its heart, the story is a spy thriller, filled with twists and heartbreaking double crosses.
For Cap, one of the most troubling aspects of his past is that he cannot completely recall events surrounding his own "death". Official reports of the incident that made him the "Man Out of Time" offer conflicting details. In an effort to piece together his own memories, Steve revisits the site of his final battle of WWII. When Nazis attack, is he reliving memories, or have more forgotten enemies found him? You'll have to read the rest of Captain America #6 (2005) to find out!
In 1981, Captain America hit his 40th anniversary with issue #255; Cap's debut occurred under the Timely Comics publisher over 20 years before Marvel came into existence. While younger fans of the early '80s were likely familiar with the character's WWII origins, it was a moment worth revisiting, and not just for the sake of a nostalgia sales boost.
Writer Roger Stern and artist John Byrne used the anniversary issue as an opportunity retell the origin story and pay homage to legendary creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The first page is a near perfect recreation of the infamous "Cap punching Hitler" cover of Captain America #1. This anniversary issue's cover art isn't too shabby either; it features pencils by then young talent Frank Miller.
The retelling of Cap's origin story as seen in the Marvel Apes mini-series is easily the most ridiculous version to date. Written by Karl Kesel with art by Ramon Bachs, this mini-series from 2008 came on the heels of the top-selling alternate universe story Marvel Zombies. Once that series proved popular with fans, Marvel attempted to catch lightning in a bottle again with a book centered on a monkey-filled alternate universe.
Though sales were not bananas (sorry not sorry), the unpretentious mini-series did provide exceptionally entertaining moments like this one. It also did well enough to warrant a crossover mini with Marvel Zombies, too, just in case you have a hankering for more Ape-vengers. In any universe, whether it be filled with monkeys, zombies, or regular humans, Hitler deserves to be walloped by Captain America.
When The Invaders series made its Marvel debut in 1969, it focused on stories set in WWII featuring characters from the Timely Comics era. Team members included Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, Captain America and a forgotten hero of the Golden Age, The Destroyer. Known for fighting Nazis, The Destroyer made his debut the same year as Captain America in 1941.
Though he has not been utilized much in the modern Marvel Universe, The Destroyer was Stan Lee's most popular pre-Marvel creation until he co-created Fantastic Four. Written by Roy Thomas and artists Frank Robbins and George Roussos, The Invaders #18 gave readers the opportunity to see Captain America and The Destroyer team up for the first time in Marvel Comics. In-between punching Nazis, they swap stories about their shared super serum origins.
In 2009, Marvel released a series of 70th Anniversary one-shots. If the math seems screwy, that's because these books were honoring the debut of Marvel Comics #1 published by Timely Comics in 1939. Technically this celebration predates many of Marvel's own characters, including Captain America. But Marvel knows what most fans want from a Golden Age anniversary: to see Cap punching Nazis.
Writer James Robinson and artist Marcos Martin deliver a new WWII era tale in Captain America 70th Anniversary Special #1, and the issue also includes a reprint of a classic Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Captain America story. You may find yourself wanting to read more of the original comics though; the new content focuses more on Steve Rogers exhibiting heroism before taking the Super Serum.
Though "Blitzkrieg to Berlin" sounds like the name of a Ramones cover band (calling dibs on this now and forever), it's a classic Captain America story in issue #27 from 1943. The cover art by Alex Schomburg features Team America level patriotic bad-assery: Captain America riding a motorcycle over a group of cowering Nazis, while Bucky wields a tommy gun from behind.
One of three short stores in this issue by Syd Shores, Blitzkrieg to Berlin features an appearance by Hitler himself, who Captain America promptly punches (because of course). Bucky and Cap are then captured, and team up with a French resistance fighter. Together the allied forces take down a Nazi sub and make their escape. It's tight, exciting storytelling that features ample butt-kicking action.
As much as we'd like Nazis to exist as an enemy of the past, the world's most famous losers have lingered since WWII like a permanent fascist fungus upon the world. But like many villains from the real world, when depicted in fiction they bring readers brief moments of catharsis by offering their weak-chinned faces for the punching.
In Captain America #611 written by Ed Brubaker with art by Daniel Acuña, Steve has recently returned from the dead, but Bucky still has the mantle of Captain America. Facing charges for his past transgressions as the Winter Soldier, Bucky continues to fight injustice, taking out a warehouse full of neo-Nazis in modern day New York. This issue came out in 2010, but it's sadly just as relevant today.
Characters gaining abilities from the Super Serum hasn’t been a particularly rare instance in the Marvel Universe. But in What If? #28, written by George Caragonne with art by Ron Wilson present a story that explores what would've happened in WWII had Captain America been one of many in a large platoon of Super Soldiers.
As expected, Rogers and his unstoppable squad of Super Soldiers handily take out the Nazis, ending the war by 1941. The narrative tension of the story follows their victory, when a then President Rogers decides to distribute the Super Serum to everyone in the US -- but it only affects white males in the population. This unexpected selective reaction creates widespread social unrest, with Namor eventually challenging the terrible status quo. This is one Nazi-punching alternate timeline that may be a downgrade after all.
Considered a key issue, Giant-Size Invaders #1 by writer Roy Thomas was Marvel's prequel issue to the ongoing Invaders series. The distinct art by Bronze Age heavyweight Frank Robbins was divisive among fans, with some loving the more stylized figures, while others pined for something closer to the standard Marvel stye.
While the regular Captain America series of the day explored the Man out of Time in the modern world, Invaders allowed old and new readers alike to enjoy wartime stories about their favorite Marvel heroes of the Golden Age. Giant-Size Invaders shows Cap's origin once again, and the super-group's formation at the request of none other than Winston Churchill. They go on to fight the "hordes of Hitler", facing off against the Nazi villain, Master Man.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby didn't stay on Captain America for its entire run under Timely Comics, but many other talented creators made memorable Nazi-punching stories. In Captain America #15 by writer Otto Binder and artist Don Rico, the villain is far less obvious than your standard Nazi war story.
Taking place in Captain America's hometown of New York City, undercover Nazis have infiltrated the United States and have begun spreading disinformation to undermine US morale. Captain America and Bucky's instincts lead them to investigate and they successfully take down the "fifth column" of saboteurs. Cap breaks the fourth wall to remind readers to not believe "planted rumors, fake reports, and terror propaganda". Cap's warning is a sobering reminder of the psychological warfare that can be waged at home by Nazis. Not all of them sport swastikas!
What are some of your favorite Nazi-punching moments from Captain America's history? Share them in the comments!