In just a few short weeks, Captain America: Civil War will be hitting the nation’s cinemas. If you don’t know Captain America from Cap’n Crunch and secretly wonder if the Avengers are a football team, then this short, sweet, and spoiler-free introduction is for you. If you want to know more, then pick up Marvel’s Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger. Crammed with full-color art, trivia, and an in-depth comic book history of Captain America, it is the next best thing to reading all of the comics.
Who Created Captain America in Real Life?
You might have heard at one time or another that Captain America was propaganda invented to bolster American patriotism in the early days of World War II. The fact of the matter is that creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby came up with him prior to the country’s entry into the conflict. As American Jews, they had heard the horror stories coming out of Europe and guessed that America would eventually be forced to act. Captain America was created as a symbol of the nation’s righteous fury and strength. During the character’s long history, his writers have made it clear time and again that he’s loyal to the American Dream, not the nation’s politicians.
Who Created Captain America in Fiction?
In the world of the movies, Captain America is Steve Rogers, a one-time frail young man transformed into a muscular, dashing hero as a result of a military experiment. The scientist responsible for his transformation, Dr. Abraham Erskine, gave him the name Captain America, stating that like him, America would “gain the strength and will to safeguard our shores.”
Created to fight the enemy at home and abroad, Captain America stands toe to toe against the worst the Nazi regime has to offer, including his mortal enemy the Red Skull. During one of the last battles of the war, the Captain fell into a state of suspended animation (No spoilers: Watch the films or read the comics to find out how.) but was revived decades later. The comic book Captain America’s identity has been assumed by other heroes at different times.
What Kind of Hero Fights Without a Weapon?
You might have noticed that Captain America is armed only with a shield. Well, in the hands of Cap, that shield becomes a brutal weapon. He can throw it like a giant discus, ricocheting from enemy to enemy in a chain reaction of incapacitating strikes, or just bash bad guys silly with it. Believe it or not, that’s not too far removed from how medieval fighters used their own shields. While knights and other warriors didn’t throw them, they did use them to knock their enemies down, break their arms, and corner them where they could deliver a killing blow. That shield, by the way, is made of a durable metal known as “vibranium”. In the comic books, there have been many versions of the shield, some of which were made of other substances.
Who is Hydra?
The shortest answer is that Hydra is a secret terrorist organization devoted to overthrowing the world’s governments and establishing a global dictatorship. Hydra has been around since World War II, maybe longer. The Nazis were their puppets. Think of them as the bad guy’s bad guys. If there’s a way to use (or start) a conflict to advance their goals, they’ll do it. Needless to say, they see superheroes like Captain America and the Avengers as obstacles to their plans who must be removed. Their operatives are identifiable by the battle cry “Hail Hydra!”
Does Captain America Have Other Enemies?
Oh, plenty. You don’t even know. In addition to organized groups like Hydra, the Soviets, the Nazis, and comic book mafia knock-off the “maggia”, there are plenty of individuals who would love a piece of Cap: the German ubermensch the Master Man, the psychotic Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing AKA Modok, and the expert marksman known as Crossbones, just to name a few. If you’re planning on killing Captain America, then you’ll have to stand in line with all of the rest of his haters. That guy you see all the way at the front is the Red Skull: the Nazi protege of Adolf Hitler and Hydra collaborator.
Who is the Winter Soldier and Why Does He Matter?
Back in the early days of comic books, many heroes had kid sidekicks. James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was the Captain’s. In later iterations of the Captain America story, Bucky became a skilled warrior in his own right. In one of the comic’s most celebrated storylines, Bucky made a return appearance as a brainwashed Soviet assassin, forcing Cap into a fight against his former friend. Fortunately, Captain America was able to reverse the brainwashing, and the Winter Soldier became one of his greatest allies. He even took the identity of Captain America at one point when Steve Rogers was out of action. (Trivia: Bucky trained Black Widow.)
Who are the Avengers and What Caused The “Civil War”?
The Avengers are a team of superheroes gathered together to defend Earth against its most powerful enemies. In the movies, The Avengers have a close relationship with a global intelligence-gathering organization known as SHIELD, and one of its top men, Nick Fury, was responsible for assembling the team. While the line-up has changed over the years, Captain America has at many times been considered its leader.
Trouble arises in their ranks when the United States decides that the nation’s superheroes should be accountable to the government. The Superhuman Registration Act requires that all heroes reveal their true identity and undergo training to become federal employees. Fellow Avenger Iron Man Tony Stark supports the idea, and Captain America—remember, loyal to the American Dream, not its politicians—is against it. The conflict shatters the Avengers, at least for a while. Captain America and his allies in the anti-registration community go rogue, forcing Iron Man and his fellow pro-registration heroes to hunt him down.
Note: Some plot points and other developments from the comics and movies have been withheld or condensed in order to prevent spoilers.