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Captain America: A History

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Captain America was a superhero created to arouse patriotism and the American spirit. His purpose is to take down America’s enemies, fighting those who stood for oppression and evil.

The film Captain America: The First Avenger was just released. The revamp of the classic American superhero sets out to tell the tale of Captain America to a younger generation; a generation that on the whole is unfamiliar with his origins. But why bring Captain America back into the limelight now?

A brief history of Captain America

1940s: World War II brought about a sense of American patriotism the likes of which could only be matched by America’s Founding Fathers. Back then it was easy to tell who the bad guys were: the Fascists and the Communists whose ideals were so different from those of Americans. Captain America was introduced to the world in a comic book, as well as in a live-action film serial. The Captain personified the American spirit and was a veritable one-man army against America’s enemies.

1960s: After World War II Captain America lost popularity. Though the comic series continued, times were good and America was less in need of a hero. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the Captain first appeared on television, that he caught the eye of the nation once again. In 1966, after the Cuban missile crisis, and with the Cold War an ever-present menace, America was watching this cartoon series:

The 1966 theme song (which actually introduced the Captain’s segment in part of a larger show, Marvel Heroes) serves as a time capsule of Captain America’s legacy: kickin’ ass and fighting commies. Nothing beats silhouettes [silhouettes?] of enemy soldiers going down in a hail of “TWANG!” and “BOP!” as a powerful chorus tries desperately to rhyme [not sure what is being talked about here…. A music video?]. During the Sixties, the comic book series dealt with issues like the Watergate scandal and even segregation by introducing The Falcon, an African American superhero who trained under the Captain and became his teammate.

1980s: By the Eighties it was apparent that Captain America was changing with the times. The comic book series, which had continued non-stop since its inception, was taking on the hard-hitting issues that still faced American society. This epoch includes Captain America dealing with the war on drugs and homophobia, the writers working these issues into the storylines in creative and entertaining ways.

1990: A Captain America film is made starring Matt Salinger. It is the first live-action film since 1944. The release of the film brought about a new wave of fans who were previously unfamiliar with the Captain America story.

2011: The new live-action movie Captain America: The First Avenger is released. Reawakening the world once again to Captain America’s under the radar ubiquity

Americans now live in a deeply divided country when it comes to many political and social issues. The United States is engaged in a War on Terror at the same time nations around the world criticize the country’s international policies. Meanwhile, there are hard economic times at home and millions are unemployed or underemployed. Once more, the United States is a country that could use a hero. Perhaps it’s for these reasons that Captain America has returned to the public eye.

Either that or the huge piles of money made on superhero movies…

Interested in more about the Captain?
Check out Captain America in the Media

 

 

 

 

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