Who Is Captain America?

by AlanB

A look at Captain America, some history, Red Skull, and his recent movie, Captain America: The First Avenger.

Captain America is a Success from the Start

A truly iconic character
Captain America Comics #1 Cover

Copyright © 1941 Marvel Characters, Inc. 


Captain America (Steve Rogers) was first introduced to Americans in December, 1940 with the release of Captain America Comics #1 (cover-date March 1911) by Marvel's predecessor, Timely Comics.  The issue proved to be a success, and Captain America would forever be part of American pop culture.

Interestingly, one-year later the attack on Pearl Harbor happened.  Imagine, if Captain America had been released after Pearl Harbor, his origin story may have been very different; and Captain America's original first major villain/nemesis could have very easily been Japanese.  We could have seen Captain America fighting a samurai version of Red Skull instead of the psychopath, Nazi version of Red Skull.

An interesting aspect to Captain America's history is that the comic books featured some kind of relation to the current politics and important notes in America history at -or around- the time of a comic book's release.  For example, one of the earliest issues -and most famous- has Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw.   Later, Captain America would be featured in the comic's own version of the Watergate scandal.

It's easy to see that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had some political and propaganda messages woven into Captain America's comic books.   This, of course, raised objections to the comic book.  And, despite those objections, Captain America would go on to be one of the most successful and popular superheroes of all-time.

The Red Skull

Captain America's greatest nemesis


Red Skull promotional art for Captain America vol.5, #38
Art by Steve Epting

Besides having one of the most recognizable faces for a villain, Red Skull is one of the oldest and most infamous supervillains of all-time (in both Marvel and DC).  The first incarnation of The Red Skull began in the same comic that we first meet Captain America: Captain America Comics #1.  However, this version of Red Skull (George Maxon) isn't the true Red Skull; but, rather, he is an agent of the true Red Skull (Johann Schmidt).   Another Red Skull, this time being impersonated by a Russian KGB agent named Albert Malik, would go on to battle a Captain America; who's being impersonated by the Grand Director (William Burnside) at this time during the 1950s.

Throughout all of Red Skull's incarnations, he was always a tough foe for Captain America.  Not because he possessed superhero strength or abilities -which had none of- but because of Red Skull's abilities in subversion and political operations.   Red Skull, no matter the incarnation, always had a genius that compared to some of Marvel's most twisted, intellectual minds (like Doctor Doom).

The Red Skull's importance to the Marvel universe can be seen in many areas and his appearance in the history of other comic book superheroes.  For example, Peter Parker's (Spiderman) parents were killed by Red Skull; making Peter Parker an orphan, and leading him to be raised by his aunt and uncle.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

A retelling of Captain America's origins

Captain America The First Avenger cover

ALERT: Some spoiler information!

Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest, but not the first, movie to feature Marvel's iconic American superhero.  The first movie, debuting in 1944, is a Republic serial film.  The movie is black-and-white, and could only be described as being 'loosely' based upon Captain America.  

However, the latest film to feature Captain America is considerably closer to Marvel canon.  Many lesser known characters in his history, like Dr. Arnin Zola, Heinz Kruger, and Dr. Abraham Erskine, make an appearance. Even Bucky appears in the movie.

The origin story is fairly close to the original, with the use of the serum(Super-Soldier Serum), and experiments, to create a super soldier.  However, George Maxon -the original Red Skull- is absent.  Instead, we're introduced to Johann Schmidt, the true Red Skull.

Overall, the movie is a decent retelling of Captain America's origin.  And, the way in which the movie ended -done to tie it into the upcoming The Avengers movie- loosely follows Captain America's history; primarily his time in suspended animation.

Other Captain America Stuff

From toys to Captain America party supplies

Captain America Toy

When a fictional character reaches a certain popularity you're sure to see that character featured in a number of spin-off products and merchandise.  Captain America is no exception to this, and he's been featured in other merchandise since the early days.  


Amazon has a wide selection of Captain America toys, along with some

Red Skull Toy

of the villains he has fought over the years.  These toys can range rather wacky.  The highly detailed Captain America and Red Skull movie action figures -released in conjunction with Captain America: The First Avenger- are pretty cool.  The toys were sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios for Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Select movie action line.from pretty cool to 


Captain America Napkin

Released shortly before Captain America: 

The First Avengers, last year, the Captain America Party Supplies features some pretty cool artwork.  Captain America can be seen on plates, napkins, cups, and even a few extra things like party favors, as well as a Captain America Cake Decoration kit.



Captain America And the Avengers

One of the greatest superhero teams of all-time
Avengers Movie Poster
Image created by TheMadButcher

 When people think of the Avengers, they think of Captain America as being one of the core and most recognized members.  However, he wasn't one of the founders (Iron Man, Thor, Ant-man, The Wasp, and Hulk).  He, however, would be one of the first recruits in the 1960s.

His importance to the recognition and success of the Avengers is shown in the decision to have the upcoming Avengers movie be "seen" through the eyes of Steve Rogers.

For more on the Avengers, check back here soon for the upcoming, "Who Are The Avengers?" page.

Other Superhero Articles

A look at the Asgardian god Thor, as depicted in the Marvel Universe comic books.
A look at the Avengers; from a brief glimpse of their start to the upcoming movie.
A look at Iron Man, one of Marvel's more popular superheroes, and a founding member of the Avengers.

Additional Links and Resources


Captain America on Wikipedia

Red Skull on Wikipedia

Updated: 02/15/2013, AlanB
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