I know what you’re thinking, “OMG Captain America is such a loser, [insert name of other Avenger from the movies here] is totes the best!” People have told me countless times how he’s the worst member of the team, because he technically doesn’t have any powers.
Captain America is known as the “First Avenger,” as many of you know. This isn’t just because of the timelines in the Marvel Universe; his character was created 20 years before any of the others. Stan Lee thought him up and first published him in 1941 as the amazing super-soldier we all know and love.
What else was happening in 1941? World War II, of course, and Captain America comics sold like hotcakes. The soldiers read it, enjoying how a measly soldier can suddenly turn into a hero for all of America. The children read it, wanting to grow up and protect their country just like him. The parents read it, because it had hella propaganda for World War II. I’m serious, Cap was basically created as a propaganda machine for the war, sometimes even speaking straight to the audience to tell them how to help the war effort. But at least it worked.
What made Captain America so intriguing was the fact that he was a humble American soldier, taking down Nazis to spread peace around the world. He was extremely relatable, unlike a man who has every superpower or one who has none, but a shit ton of money instead. Is it unfair to throw DC into this Marvel comparison? Well, basically, yeah, because Marvel’s whole original hope was to create realistic, understandable heroes. This is why Cap was taking down real Nazis (at first) in real places in the present day (back then), instead of creating a Metropolis or a Gotham. I’m definitely not saying that DC is unrealistic at all, just that Marvel strove for realism first.
Back to Cap. I’m also not saying that the original Captain America was completely badass and untouchable. Most older comics have goofy dialogue and strange themes, and Cap is probably the first offender here. See the image below for some good ol’ Cap and sidekick Bucky shenanigans. He’s also weirdly dark, as in one instance, after seeing a couple of thugs dress up as him as a money scheme, he lets them die at the hands of Red Skull. On-panel, mind you. Is that badass, or fucked up?
Alright, so how does he hold up against the other Avengers? Well, better than the Wasp, at least, who obviously didn’t make the cut for the movies. With the multiple different reincarnations of The Avengers came multiple different Captain Americas being revived from the ice. When this first happened in the 1960s, Cap became a brooding sap stuck in an entirely new culture and setting, which definitely added some depth to the “goodie two-shoes” look he usually has. And since the other Avengers were created and assembled in the 1960s, things like the Korean War and even Vietnam War were affecting the country, giving deeper and darker backstories to most of the them, like Iron Man. Cap wasn’t born into the “brooding superhero” era and therefore had to adapt while still keeping up his patriotic persona.So still, I haven’t answered, “What makes him the best Avenger?” Well take a goddamn look at the very first cover of his very first comic in 1941, and you’ll realize that no other superhero in history has punched Hitler right in the mustache. Check and mate, my friends.