A symbol of freedom that will risk his own life using no weapons except a shield that only barely covers his body from projectile attacks. And he's older than your grandfather. Eat it, whippersnapper! It's...Captain America!
In the height of World War II, as Adolph Hitler was doing the "running man" across the eastern continents, the drive was on for dedicated Americans to sign up and head overseas to help defeat Adolph and his Axis of Evil. Not being one to tell Uncle Sam he can't help, fine arts student Steven Rogers has had enough of Hitler and decides to join the Army so he can become the first soldier to kick Hitler in his bratwurst.
You'll make a fine coat rack for the officer's club. Wait...you have a heartbeat. You want to fight in WHAT war?! Seriously?!
Sadly, Steve had a Nicole Ritchie look decades before she even existed and the Army turned young Stevie down due to "ridiculous scrawniness", but persistence was still running high in the early 40's and Mr. Rogers wasn't taking "no, you scrawny little turd" for an answer.
Operation: Rebirth was a program that the government was secretly funding in, trying to create a bunch of Nazi stomping super soldiers using a revolutionary formula on a bunch of sap...test subjects that if successful, would become virtual supermen. In a shock to every reader, emaciated Steve Rogers was asked to join the program, the scientists holding back chuckles as he finished signing a waiver that would prevent him from suing them if "unforseen side effects occured".
Dr. Abraham Erskine (Seen above), brilliant scientist and first runner up in Europe's annual Mark Twain look alike contest took Steve, the sole test subject and introduced him to the triple stage process consisting of injections, oral (...they said it, I didn't) doses of the super soldier formula and then hit him with "Vita Rays", which could only be found at that time in the popular kids cereal "Vita-Flakes". But did it work?
"...so if zey ask, simply tell zem it was a cream for your sore joints. You're Captain "friggin" America. Would you lie?"
Sadly, Dr. Erskine wouldn't live to see the birth of his reality TV series "Making Supermen On The Cheap" as an assassin disguised as his favorite lab assistant "Sluggo" fatally shoots the doctor, the secret of making super soldiers dying with him. But Steve Rogers wouldn't let Erskine's dream of a super soldier that went overseas and beat the ever loving shit out of Hitler die. He donned a phenomenally patriotic outfit that represented the red, white, blue of the U.S. and the 6'4" walking bullseye was almost ready to defend democracy.
In an effort to not be killed as soon as he hopped off of the boat, they gave Cap a highly bulletproof shield, blocking mostly his torso as limbs weren't that important in the early 20th Century. However, after being grazed in his unbelievably muscular limbs by enemy fire, his constant bitching had them redesign a somewhat larger shield made of an alien metal called vibranium which finally shut him up.
If they made the stripes horizontal, it would give the enemy a wicked headache. Just an idea.
But wait. If you're expected to head into combat against the Germans, on their own turf, even the baddest of bad asses can't do it alone. Sure, you've got the might of the Armed Forces nearby, but what about those times when you need someone that will fall into enemy hands and make you have to think up a plan on the spot to save their barely valuable life? Or someone to get YOU out of deathtrap situations by the skin of your friggin' teeth, taking credit for it as you tussle his hair playfully?
James Buchanan Barnes aka Bucky was given the sidekick gig and a really horrible codename, running head on to danger alongside of the "Star Spangled Avenger", beating down Nazis and ruining their plans all over Europe. Hitler, concerned that this whacky American was going to fuck everything up decided to unleash a project he was working on that would profoundly effect Cap's life for the many years it would carry on.
A young man named Johann Schmidt was born in a village in Germany, his mother dying in childbirth, he was left in the caring arms of his father who blamed the newborn Johann. Committing suicide several years later, the now orphaned Johann tried to look on the brighter side of life despite all of the tragedy occuring around him, becoming a street urchin and pickpocket to make ends meet.
Through the growing darkness that was enveloping him, he found his first crush with a local Jewish girl that would help him forget about the horribleness in his life...until she turned him down using that "L" thing girls do with their thumb and index finger, causing him to murder her.
Orphan, street thief...and you give him this hat? Did you expect him to laugh or rend you limb from limb?
Eventually getting a job as a bellhop at a Germany Howard Johnsons, he got the lucky break to actually serve the room where Adolph Hitler was staying. On that particular night, A. Hit (as his close friends called him) was "bitching" out a subordinate of his for not remembering to pick up Hitler's dry cleaning and he pointed at Johann saying "even that idiot would make a better soldier than you".
Seeing overwhelming promise and latent evil in Johann, he took the young man under his leathery wing and crafted into the son he would've had brutally shot. Providing him a surplus olive jumpsuit and a mask Hitler used the previous Halloween, Schmidt spray painted it red and named himself The Red Skull, as the White Skull would have been both obvious and less fear inducing.
He tried out originally to host "Family Feud" but killing the losing families didn't meet with ABC's standards...
And for the next few years, this blushing enemy of freedom and Captain America duked it out until a battle inside of a crumbling building in Berlin saw Skully get trapped beneath the large rubble and left for dead while Cap continued fighting for freedom and of course, pissing on the rubble of the building after its collapse.
His name was Heinrich Zemo, a brilliant German scientist that was developing weapons for the Nazis to use against the Allied Forces, all while keeping his face hidden beneath a reddish pink mask to avoid a shitload of paternity suits he had floating around.
The ladies love the feel of silk. They don't even notice that I drugged their drink. I'm evil, bite me.
With the Red Skull gone, this nimitz became the number one enemy of freedom, prompting Uncle Sam to send Cap and Bucky to pay Zemo a visit so they could really ruin his day. Developing a brand new, mysterious adhesive aptly named Adhesive X, Cap tracked him down to destroy the not so crazy glue and the adhesive which "could not be dissolved or removed by any process" accidentally gets spilled on Zemo's head in a scuffle. With a fruity mask stuck to his head and Cap and Bucky rolling around laughing with great delight, a really pissed Baron Zemo went to steal an experimental plane on orders from his Nazi pals, knowing Cap and Bucky would try to stop him. Sending the plane off, Cap and Bucky go all John Woo and leap onto the plane, soon learning that it was booby trapped to explode. Needing to defuse the bomb, you would want someone with a razor sharp mind and a detailed sense of organization.
...did you not read the description? When even your action figure doesn't look right, what's your purpose?
So Bucky cut the red wire (you NEVER cut the red wire) and blew himself to Sidekick Hell, but his best pal Captain America survived the blast. Sadly he was unable to mourn the loss of his mensch of a partner because Cap splashed down into the North Atlantic Ocean, freezing solider than Walt Disney and slipping into that old chestnut we writers like to call "suspended animation".
Over the next two decades, a number of different guys tried to put on the red, white, and blue outfit and take over the mantle of Captain America, but while most went insane or were killed for their trouble, the world began to change and not for the better. With enemies both super and non super but carrying deadly friggin' weapons, your standard fare of heroes came to the rescue, but none of them had the panache of old Cap.
And the world needed him back.
Oddly enough, a group of Inuit people living in the frozen north decided to start worshipping a very familiar looking block of ice they uncovered as their god. Just before their Sunday mass, a douchey super hero by the name of Sub Mariner showed up and voiced his opinion on the importance of choosing the right religion.
When he found out that they don't eat dolphin safe tuna, he started hurling their family pets...
It was then that the super hero team The Avengers found Cap's frozen form and proceeded to thaw him out, telling him of all of the advancements made and wonderful things that had happened since his involuntary slumber. All was going well until The Hulk blurted out the words "Dead" and "sidekick", being the most insensitive member of the group that Cap remembered that Bucky failed to stop the plane from blowing up and was no doubt incinerated. But despite the shame spiral of letting an untrained twenty year old placeholder try to disconnect a bomb over coming him, he muddled through and donned the costume once again, bogarting leadership of the Avengers and letting the world know that Cap was back.
Catching up for lost time, Cap would find new partners:
While he was the same young man that caused scientist Dr. Bruce Banner to get grilled with gamma radiation and to be transformed into a brutish beast known as the Hulk, Cap figured if things went south this time, Rick probably would've been asking for it. Rick, however, doesn't end up like Bucky, deciding that he has a better chance of living hanging around with the more safe radioactive mutant and running from the government.
Sam Jones was the first mainstream comics African American hero, a man who had a love for birds and possessed a mental link with his pet hawk Redwing. Meeting up with Cap in one of his many wacky overseas adventures, the two became fast friends and a harness with wings was developed for Jones so that he could fly. The two teamed up and took on a number of super villains, Cap with his heightened abilities and shield and the Falcon and his...flight and...pet falcon.
But doubt set and ruined Cap's good times, worried that the super soldier formula might drive him nuts like others he'd came across and after Nixon and the whole Watergate scandal, Cap removed his long time outfit to done the guise of Nomad, only to have more nutjobs try to be the new Cap, forcing him to become Cap once again to avoid a shitload of copyright infringements and lawsuits.
This guy was arrested for trying to liberate a six pack from a grocery store. Accept no substitutes.
Cap's greatest enemy, however, was neither dead nor collecting German unemployment while nursing his wounds. Turns out that the lucky motherfuhrer ended up breathing an experimental gas that was in the building that fell on him and he too went into "suspended animation", awakened years later and with a big red boner to off Cap once and for all.
Crossing paths with our real american hero (screw you, G.I. Joe), it was just like old times again, Cap thwarting Skully's plans to destroy him and take over the world at large...until the Red Skull got horrible news. Turns out the same stuff that kept his body in suspended animation for all those years as well as keeping his skin squeezably soft was wearing off and in the blink of an eye, he'd be legally eligible for social security. In a douche move directly from the old country, he threatened Cap's pals with death unless Cap allowed himself to get all "octigenarian-ry" so the two 80 year olds could have it out in the slowest final battle in recorded history. After a lot of complaints of sore joints and how the movie industry had gone to hell, Cap had the opportunity to finish his old foe off, but being Captain America he just allows The Red Skull to expire by falling and not being able to get up.
And with the Red Skull finally dead...what...?
Well, it turned out this crazy Nazi scientist named Arnim Zola who was ridiculed for wanting to clone sheep decided to clone Captain America instead, using some DNA he'd retrieve from him (EWW!). Then Zola thought "Well, he's just gonna be another Captain America. There's already one of those. Who's mind could I transfer into this clone to make for an interesting Wednesday night bridge partner"?
He's like that one horribly maxed out credit card screwing up your credit rating. Now you REALLY hate him, don't you?
Alive once again and in the cloned body of his old chum, The Skull decided to become a wealthy powerful businessman that would make Captain America's life miserable. No longer down twith the Nazis, he became powerful enough to join a Washington based group called "The Commission", a group that watched over super hero activities but would be the personal ballbusting organization of our Star Spangled hero. Telling him everything from who and how to fight to how to patriotically wipe his ass, John Smith aka the artist formerly known as The Red Skull forced Cap to give up the uniform to a whack job named John Walker, donning a new uniform and continuing the fight as "The Captain".
...no star on the shield AND no Toni Tennille? You are just full of false advertisement, sir. Good day.
John Walker had the strength, the speed, and enough psychosis to make Dr. Phil wet himself, parading around as Captain America but either brutally beating his adversaries into a bloody pulp or just plain killing them. But the Captain stepped in and put a hurting on him, making Johnny Walker red (....is this thing on?) and taking his familiar old costume back. Confronting the familiar looking head of the Commission, Cap put aside how handsome the gentleman looked and was informed that he was actually his old enemy The Red Skull.
In yet another battle between the two, the Skull decided to play a little dirty and blow a little smoke in Cap's eyes. The smoke, however, wasn't the normal tobacco and chemicals that would kill a person slowly but the "Dust of Death", a chemical created by Skully to transform whoever breathes it in to be transformed physically into an emaciated, red skinned individual that looked like Smith used to with his mask. Not in his plan book, wacky Walker angrily attacked his boss, causing the Skull to inhale his own dust, karmically transforming him into a withered skull headed version of himself and *finally finishing off the Red Skull.
*Remember, in comic books, hero and villains never completely die. They just take a hiatus until it really incoveniences their archenemy and they return, totally flipping them off in the process.
Roaring into the 21 Century, an almost 100 year old Cap that didn't look a day over 40 ends up in the middle of a war when the federal government ordered all super heroes to unmask and Cap suggested what part of his star spangled ass they could kiss. Gathering other heroes that shared his sentiment, Cap battled the government and even some of his old friends, but when he realizes he's hurting more than he's helping, he turns himself in and unmasks. Convicted of his crimes, he's marched from the courthouse to be sent off to the big house when...
His old friend Bucky, who survived the plane explosion all of those years ago but got jacked up badly was recovered by the Russian government and they transformed him into a super bad ass codenamed Winter Soldier. After Cap's death, he takes over for his old pal and tries do the costume proud.
BUCKY CLASSIC becomes....
Call him Bucky now and he'll rip out your larynx, then show you how it works.
And now he's Cap as in "busting a Cap in your ass"! Oh say can you see,,,you wet yourself in fear...
1944's Captain America:
You make Steve Rogers into a district attorney. (Okay, it's still handling justice, right?)
You get rid of Bucky Barnes, his sidekick (No way a negative. Thumbs up.)
You have him with a side arm, popping caps in people's asses (Well, the first Cap had a gun...so...)
You take away his shield (...this movie is over. Captain America without a shield is The Phantom...and don't get me started on that movie. Please don't.)
1970's Captain America / Captain America II:
Remove the war, give a sandy haired schlub a shot of lovin' super serum (Groovy...so far)
Give him a motorcycle...and make the helmet part of the suit (...that's kinda jive)
Make the shield transparent (...take that VHS tape out of my VCR and burn it. Then piss on the ashes.)
1990's Captain America: War's back on, suspended animation, super soldier formula (I'm gonna forget about that 70's debacle)
The uniform and shield are back...looking kinda weird though (It's the nineties...roll with it)
The Red Skull is here...and he's Italian (...we're done)
3 Dev Adam: ....it was better than the 40's Captain America...
The rumor is that Cap didn't actually die and that he'll be returning to action very soon, adding to a long list of heroes that "die" but not really, but can we really live without the real Captain America around? Of all of your standard super heroes, amidst the smart remarks and the questionable tactics that a number of them use, Cap was the straight arrow. A man who walked a line that few other people could walk, taking a stand with morality that not everyone would agree with but he wouldn't waver on.
In a world like ours, we still need someone like this. We need Steven Rogers in that Captain America outfit.
Because we all know what happens when he's not wearing it...
He could at least use the shield to cover up...