October 15, 2013

Character Profile: Captain America

The dynamic of Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, as an icon is that his greatest strength didn't come from 1940's science fiction. Even before Steve Rogers was a soldier just looking for a way in to the American military, he had the heart and the idealism of a true hero. He recognized that he had the responsibility to correct the wrongs happening in his time, but understood that he also had to recognize that his powers of strength, stamina, and skill is tempered with humility and service.

Steve's nobility is what makes him likable.

Through Captain America's origins, we are treated to an allegory of a man who's idealism is thrust forward into a future that can be seen as obsolete and almost extinct. He is revered as a hero to his fellow soldiers, but to his teammates in present day, he's unable to connect or relate to those around him because they didn't grow up in his generation.

Captain America can get incredibly lonely.

In literature, Steve Rogers is a man who had unrequited love that got delayed with his interment in Arctic ice. It was his love for his country that his decision to make what he believed his final act of self-sacrifice cost him more than just his own needs. Peggy Carter was kept waiting. Captain America now lives on knowing that his decision to protect the people he loves has also denied him his own true love.

Many super heroes use guns, swords, or other weapons at their disposal. But despite Captain America's origins based on military tactics in wartime, readers rarely see him posed with a gun. His main weapon of choice is a red, white, and blue shield. It's a defensive weapon. A reader might conclude that his role as a patriot representing American idealism, he's not a conquer or an invader, but a defender.

In the Marvel comics story arc titled Streets of Poison published in 1994, Steve gets accidentally exposed to a designer drug that wreaks havoc on his super soldier serum. During the story, Captain encounters young teens and preaches to them about the dangers of drugs. But instead of the teens meeting him with eventual co-operation and comprehension, Captain America is countered with the teens discord claiming that Captain was a hypocrite because it took drugs to make him big and strong. In a way, the teens were right and Cap didn't have a comeback on hand.

Everything that the Captain America in 1940's once stood for is now flipped in the opposite direction. This dichotomy only fuels his loneliness further. A man who's sole existence is to represent a country no longer has a country to call home.

Captain America continues his mission as a soldier. That's all he can do. It's all he knows how to do. But for his alter-ego Steve Rogers, he just knows that the measure of a man is by the size of his heart and by the choices he makes.