Fireworks! Barbecues! Orgies of rampant consumerism! Independence Day is the quintessential American holiday, and what better way to celebrate it than by remembering some of the most patriotic moments starring the quintessential American hero, Captain America?!
Steve Rogers has always embodied the values that America stands for, and as those values have changed over the decades, Captain America has changed with them. And if we, as a country, have, shall we say, failed to live up to our own ideals in recent times, it's only natural that Captain America would reflect those failings. We're not going to go so far as to say that, if the iconic Captain America Comics #1 cover were published today, Cap might be shaking hands with Hitler rather than punching his lights out, but...
Well, okay, we guess we did just say it. It's with that in mind that we've compiled our list of the Top Five Most Patriotic Captain America moments:
#5 - Steve Rogers Becomes Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
What could be more American than becoming the head of an international espionage organization that operates unilaterally and considers itself above international law? As we all recently learned, spying on your own citizens is as American as genetically modified apple pie, but, back in 2010, before anyone outside the "tin foil hat crowd" had realized America was a full blown Orwellian dystopia, Captain America was appointed as head of national security by President Obama at the end of Marvel's Dark Reign and Siege storyline. If only Cap were still in charge of things, he could have gotten his hands on that no-good tattletale Edward Snowden before he spilled the beans on the government's grossly unconstitutional surveillance program, and America's uppity peasantry wouldn't be rabble-rousing on the internet about their silly "rights" and "privacy."
#4 - Captain America Tries to Arrest Hope Summers
America has a proud history of detaining innocent people indefinitely with no trial, from Japanese internment camps during World War 2 to the Guantanamo Bay detainment and interrogation facility, so, it's no surprise that the Sentinel of Liberty would try to arrest Hope Summers, a teenage girl who had committed no crimes, at the beginning of Marvel's Avengers vs. X-Men super-mega-crossover event comic. Cap justified his actions by claiming that an evil cosmic bird force was going to possess Hope and destroy the planet, but, frankly, he had no real proof and didn't even try to get a warrant. Why should he? Captain America knows what's best for everyone, and if you don't comply, he has no problem responding with violent, super-powered aggression. This leads us to our next moment...
#3 - Captain America and the Avengers Invade Utopia
The ability to strike with deadly force anywhere on the planet at a moment's notice, often with unmanned drone attacks that destroy entire villages, is one of things that makes America "special," so we found it quite appropriate to see Cap lead his super-powered assault team, the Avengers, in an unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation of Utopia, the home of the peace-loving mutant minority group, the X-Men. Cap claimed he needed to attack the X-Men because the Phoenix Force was going to possess the teenage Hope Summers, but her grandfather and legal guardian, mutant leader Scott Summers, refused to surrender her to the custody of the Rogers, alcoholic billionaire Tony Stark, and known child killer Wolverine so that she could be illegally detained on the moon. Cap's actions kicked off a massive war that lasted longer than anyone expected, cost the taxpayers billions of dollars, further degraded our country's reputation, and left the people of the invaded nation shattered, just like the United States does once or twice a decade.
#2 - Captain America Tries to Overthrow a Foreign Regime
In Marvel's Secret War, Captain America leads a covert superhero invasion of Eastern European nation Latveria to depose their democratically elected government, secretly motivated by a desire to gain tighter control over the international supervillain arms trade. Making things more complicated, Cap's actions were unsanctioned because the U.S. government was sponsoring the Latverian regime in the first place. The attack caused an international incident that resulted in a reprisal by cyborg Latverian Prime Minister Lucia von Bardas, in which many innocent people were killed. But hey, you can't build a sprawling, fear-inspiring global empire make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
#1 - Cap Gets a Boob Job
What says "America" more than giant fake titties?! Back in the 1990s, under the guidance of superstar artist Rob Liefeld, Captain America underwent plastic surgery to get massive breast implants, as well as other anatomically impossible adjustments. Of course, body modification was par for the course for Steve Rogers by this time. After all, he first gained super powers by injecting the ultimate performance enhancing drug, the Super Soldier Serum, and, in the classic eighties storyline Man and Wolf, well... a picture is worth more than a thousand words:
Modern American role models like The Real Housewives of (Insert City or State Here) have nothing on Captain America when it comes to elective medical procedures with frightening results.
When we wrote this article back in 2013, who could have possibly foreseen than Captain America could ever have moments more patriotic than those listed above. However, in 2016, writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz brought us Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. It was Steve Rogers' return to the mantle of Captain America after being advanced to his real age by a previous super-mega-crossover event, so Marvel wanted to make a big splash. How did they do it? By revealing that Captain America had always been a secret Nazi, of course! (No surprise to the fans who'd already read the stories on our list above.)
Marvel Executive Vice President Tom Brevoort soon joined Spencer on a publicity tour de force, insisting to anyone who would listen that this was the real Steve Rogers, and the story was not a matter of brainwashing or mind control. Then, a few weeks later, in Captain America Steve Rogers #2, it was revealed that, in fact, a sentient cosmic cube who had become a little girl, under the control of the Red Skull, had altered reality in such a way as to... er... control Steve's mind and make him choose to become a Hydra agent.
For the next week, Spencer, Brevoort, and even Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso berated fans on social media and press interviews, insisting fans didn't understand how comics worked if they had an issue with the story. And in a way, they have a point. Just look at all the fascist, evil things Cap has done in the past. We should have seen his secret Nazi-ism coming all along!
Nevertheless, perverting a classic American icon in order to boost sales and make a quick buck before quickly revealing it was all a hoax and then attacking your critics based on a spurious argument over the semantics of what exactly comprises "mind control" -- what could possibly be more American than that?! That's why "Hail Hydra" gets an honorable mention on our list of the Top Five Patriotic Captain America Moments!
We hope you enjoyed our Top Five Patriotic Captain America Moments. As you're drinking Bud Light and gulping down weiners today, please take a moment to post your angry, jingoistic responses in the comments section below.
Now, let's remember the good old days.