Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, has had many faces throughout his years on the big screen. Dick Ourcell, who played the superhero in 1944, was the first actor to play the character. Chris Evans, the current Captain America, first portrayed the American hero in 2011, and, in 2016, he plays the character again in “Captain America: Civil War.” To piece together the patriotic super soldier’s history, the logical first step is to look to the comic books, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, in which he first appeared in red, white and blue.
The hero debuted in 1941. The Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor, and the Nazis had begun killing children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. The desire for a hero – even a fictional one – was strong. Captain America, the patriotic super soldier, emerged during World War II as a brave hero to look up to.
M&Ms also made their debut that year, leading to nostalgic visions of children and adults alike gathered around to read the hero’s tale in “Timely Comics,” while eating chocolate bits of candy or a bowl of the newly-introduced cereal, Cheerios.
Shortly after the war, in 1950, the “Captain America” comic book was discontinued. It was revived for a brief time in 1953, until again becoming a permanent character in 1964, eventually changing from the Timely Comic label to the Marvel Comics brand that is so well-known today.
In the year 1964, the song, “She Loves You,” by the Beatles played on radios and the comic book was back in full circulation. The last issue of the “Viking” comic from Martin Kresses came out on January 24, but the Captain lived!
The comic book had several artists and writers, who included Don Heck, Jim Steranko and Syd Shores, and still had creator Kirby as a writer and illustrator up until October 1977. His last issue was No. 214.
The television movie, “Captain America,” which aired in 1979, was loosely based on the Marvel comic book series and was directed by Rob Holcomb. The movie was the second in a long line of movies about the super soldier, and starred Reb Brown. Following in the same year is a made-for-television movie called “Captain America 2: Death Too Soon.” Both movies aired on CBS.
Fast forward to 1990, and the Broncos beat the ’49ers in a jaw-crushing defeat in the Super Bowl. The Captain America movie on the big screen takes fans back to 1936. This time, the hero is played by Matt Salinger.
The most recent actor to portray the hero in the movies is Chris Evans, who appears as the superhero in the following films:
- “Captain America: The First Avenger,” 2011
- “The Avengers,” 2012
- “Thor: The Dark World,” 2013
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” 2014
- “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” 2015
- “Ant-Man,” 2015
- “Captain America: Civil War,” 2016
Known as the leader of the Avengers, Captain America is highly revered in his community. The patriotic super soldier’s allies think highly of him. He is famous for his flag-encrusted colored body armor and shield. The shield, made of a Vibranium steel alloy, is used to throw at his enemies.
Steve Rogers was a regular man like any other, until the government, in their efforts to gain ground in World War II, gave him a serum that enhanced all of his faculties. Much like Superman, he could, by turning into his alter-ego, be superhuman when needed to help save those in peril. In addition to his enhanced brain and body and skill in martial arts, he is an expert marksman, as evidenced by the way he can throw his shield from a great distance, slicing across whatever he is aiming for.
The hero’s fight in World War II ended in his demise. He was frozen in a tombstone of ice after falling from an experimental drone in the North Atlantic Ocean. While he remained frozen, his sidekick Bucky stood in his place.
Sidekicks are not always given enough fame. They shrink inside the superhero’s shadow while the superhero takes all of the fame and glory. Bucky Barnes, aka James Buchanan, is one of those sidekicks, but he remained dedicated to his more famous counterpart. From the inception of the comic book, Bucky fought valiantly next to Captain America.
Unfortunately, in 1948, Bucky was shot and sustained a serious wound, resulting in one of the few comic books deaths that remained un-reversed. It is known among comic book fans as the “Bucky Clause.” Bucky was replaced by Captain America’s girlfriend Betsy Ross, aka Golden Girl.
Captain America is a comic book hero mainly known for standing up for the American people against the wrongs of the world, including, at times, his own government. He is a true American hero for the people.
Opinion by Tracy Blake
Channels: Historical Events 1941, 1964, 1979, 1990
IMDb: Captain America
Image Courtesy of JD Hancock’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License