Captain America is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
He is the alter ego of Captain Steven Rogers, a World War II veteran, a founding member of the Avengers, and Earth’s first known superhero. Rogers grew up suffering from numerous health problems, and upon America’s entry into World War II, he was rejected from serving in the United States Army despite several attempts to enlist. Rogers ultimately volunteered for Project Rebirth, where he was the only recipient of the Super Soldier Serum developed by Abraham Erskine under the Strategic Scientific Reserve. The serum greatly enhanced Rogers’ physical abilities to superhuman levels. After Erskine’s assassination and being doubted by SSR head director Chester Phillips, Rogers was relegated to performing in war bond campaigns, where he posed as a patriotic mascot under the moniker of Captain America.
Captain America represents the pinnacle of human physical perfection. While not superhuman, he is as strong as a human being can be. He can lift (press) a maximum of 360 kg (800 pounds) with supreme effort – and has agility, strength, speed, endurance, and reaction time superior to any Olympic athlete who ever competed.
Captain America’s only weapon is his shield, a concave disk 75 cm (2.5 feet) in diameter, weighing 5.5 kg (12 pounds). It is made of a unique Vibranium-Adimantium alloy that has never been duplicated. The Shield was cast by American metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain, who was contracted by the US government to create an impenetrable substance to use for tanks during World War II. During his experiments, MacLain combined Vibranium with an Adamantium-steel alloy he was working with and created the disc-shaped shield. MacLain was never able to duplicate the process due to his inability identify a still unknown factor that played a role in it. The shield was awarded to Captain America by the government several months after the beginning of his career.
Captain America’s uniform is made of a fire-retardant material, and he wears a lightweight, bulletproof duralumin scale armor beneath his uniform for added protection.
The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941) from Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics.
Circulation figures remained close to a million copies per month after the debut issue, which outstripped even the circulation of news magazines such as Time during the period. The character was widely imitated by other comics publishers, with around 40 red-white-and-blue patriotic heroes debuting in 1941 alone.
The early stories were simple, straightforward tales peopled with bizarre villains such as the Hunchback of Hollywood, the Black Toad, and Ivan the Terrible. Chief among them was the Red Skull, a seemingly invincible Nazi whose face literally was a crimson skull. The stories of derring-do were gripping and fast-moving, and the comic became one of the most widely read titles of the so-called Golden Age of comics. Audience identification with Captain America was central to that success. The first issue announced the creation of “The Sentinels of Liberty” fan club – eager young readers could join for just a dime, which entitled them to a membership card and a metal badge. The club proved so popular that its badge promotion had to be discontinued because of wartime metal rationing.
In the post-war era, with the popularity of superheroes fading, Captain America led Timely’s first superhero team, the All-Winners Squad, in its two published adventures, in All Winners Comics #19 and #21.
In the early 1960s, with Marvel’s superheroes rediscovering a large and enthusiastic audience, the time seemed right to reintroduce Captain America.
By the early 1970s, Captain America symbolized an America confused over the meaning of patriotism and disillusioned with the national mission.
In a memorable multi-part series unfolding during the Watergate scandal, Captain America uncovered a conspiracy of high-ranking U.S. officials to establish a right-wing dictatorship from the White House.
Captain America has remained a popular superhero in the last decades of the twentieth century. The character may never be as popular as he was during World War II, but as long as creators can continue to keep him relevant for future generations, Captain America’s survival seems assured. Although his patriotic idealism stands in stark contrast to the prevailing trend of cynical outsider superheroes like the X-Men, the Punisher, and Spawn, Captain America’s continued success in the comic-book market attests to the timelessness and adaptability of the American dream.
Captain America was the first Marvel Comics character to appear in media outside comics with the release of the 1944 movie serial, Captain America. Since then, the character has been featured in other films and television series. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers was portrayed by Chris Evans. Captain America was ranked sixth on IGN’s “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time” in 2011, second in their list of “The Top 50 Avengers” in 2012, and second in their “Top 25 best Marvel superheroes” list in 2014.