Those who oppose his shield must yield.
Warning: This page will contain spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read at your own risk.The First Avenger
. The Star-Spangled Man with a Plan
. The Man Out of Time
. The Marvel Universe
's Big Good
.The Captain Patriotic
Captain America first appeared in Captain America Comics
#1 (March, 1941), created by Joe Simon and Jack "King" Kirby
for Timely Comics. (Timely would later change its name to Marvel Comics
). Captain America is one of the many
, many patriotic superheroes
created during World War II
to bolster morale on the home front.
As a skinny orphan artist who grew up in The Great Depression
, Steve Rogers Jumped at the Call
, but the US Army declared him 4-F (unfit for service), and handed him over to Operation: Rebirth, an Allied Powers project headed by Professor Erksine to create a Super Soldier
for the war effort. Injected with Super Serum
and bombarded with radiation, Rogers' treatment proved a complete success with his scrawny body suddenly enhanced to the maximum human potential. Unfortunately, a Nazi spy immediately assassinated Dr. Erksine at that moment and the formula of the treatment, which was never completely written down, was lost forever.
Deciding to make the best of their one successful subject, the US government decided to make Rogers an elite counter-intelligence agent who could also be an ideal propaganda mascot to oppose Nazi Germany's frightening head of Terrorist activities: The diabolical Red Skull
. To that end, Rogers was appropriately trained and costumed and given a signature shield
. Cap fought the Axis, memorably punching◊ Adolf Hitler in the face on the cover of his first comic
. A key supporting character was Bucky Barnes
, Cap's boy sidekick and an answer to Robin
. Bucky's death became one of the most major—and longest-lasting—deaths in comics.Captain America Comics
ended with issue #75 (February, 1950). The last couple of issues were also titled "Captain America's Weird Tales", an attempt to rework the series into a horror/suspense anthology. The character remained dormant for a few years. There was an attempt to revive him a couple of years later, with "Young Men
" #24-28 (December, 1953-June, 1954) and "Captain America Comics
" #76-78 (May-September, 1954). The character was next successfully revived in the pages of The Avengers
#4 (March, 1964).
While Cap's adventures were written and published throughout the 1940s
and early 1950s
, Stan Lee
and a returning Jack Kirby retconned
his history in 1964: the post-War Caps who fought Communism were impostors (first other superheroes and then an Ascended Fanboy
who went insane with a flawed imitation of the Super Serum), and the "original" Cap was killed in action, but they Never Found the Body
. Naturally, he came back from suspended animation
to join The Avengers
, bringing his old-style patriotism and battle tactics to the table, eventually ascending to leadership. However, Cap also had to deal with being a man out of his time, with everyone he knew being long gone, while also being plagued with his greatest failure
— not being able to save his sidekick's life in their final fight against Baron Zemo — until Rick Jones finally told him to quit his whining
and move on. Cap took that advice, and while the Red Skull
drove Rick away when impersonating Cap, Rogers got a new partner, The Falcon
, who was with him for years.
Captain America threw his mighty shield for decades, proving remarkably more adaptive for the changing times than his creators could have guessed. For instance, when American ideals were shaken by the Vietnam War
, Rogers reflected that disillusionment in the 1970s when he abandoned his Cap persona to become Nomad, a man without a country, until he realized he could champion America's higher ideals as Cap instead. In the cynical 1980s, Rogers would be forced out of his Cap persona and replaced by an Anti-Hero Substitute
, John Walker, only to serve as The Captain to show his ideals still had power in the The Dark Age of Comic Books
, loyal to nothing but The American Dream
. Eventually, Cap learned that this was all arranged by the Red Skull
to sully his name and took back his old motif with Walker getting Rogers' Captain costume to be U.S.Agent. In 2007, Rogers even took up armed resistance to the American crackdown on the superhero community in the Civil War
, until he surrendered and was assassinated. Even though Word of God
stated that he was Killed Off for Real
, nobody believed it
Cap's mantle was taken up in 2008 by Bucky Barnes
, Steve Rogers' WWII boy sidekick who, rather than dying at the hands of Baron Zemo
was brainwashed into the Soviet killing machine Winter Soldier and kept in Suspended Animation
much of the time that he wasn't on missions to explain his age. Cap later freed Bucky from his Brainwashing with the help of the Cosmic Cube, allowing him to make a Heel-Face Turn
. In addition to having a bio-mechanical left arm and a new armored costume, he also carries a gun. Prior to being the Winter Soldier, Bucky was often cited as one of the three people in comics who would always stay dead.
Bucky did a pretty good job filling in for Steve, but, this being superhero comics
, Steve eventually came back. However, Steve felt that wielding the shield was good for Bucky and insisted that he continue on as Captain America until his apparent death in the Fear Itself Crisis Crossover
, when Rogers took up the role again. Prior to the upcoming Axis
storyline, Steve will be forced to hand over the title of Captain America to his old partner Sam Wilson, the Falcon, after the Super Soldier Serum is removed from him, turning him into an old man. Notably, Sam is the first person Steve has chosen
to wield the shield. While Steve has expressed his approval of and respect for Captains America William Naslund, Jeff Mace, Isaiah Bradley, Bucky Barnes, etc., it was always after the fact.
In the Ultimate Marvel
universe, Captain America is still skinny Steve Rogers-turned buff superhero-turned poster boy for the war effort, but Darker and Edgier
. He gets pulled out of the ocean in 2002 instead of 1963, thinks it's a Nazi trick, and breaks out of SHIELD's secure holding facility despite Bruce Banner's insistence that he shouldn't be able to move. Joining The Ultimates
, Captain America proceeds to show everyone how to be a true Badass
: dropping a tank on the Incredible Hulk
, beating a 60-foot-tall Giant Man barehanded, and kicking seven shades of piss out of a regenerating alien before convincing the Hulk to take over. And while he does cleave to certain less-than-admirable 1940s values
, he still stands for the Dream
. In volume 2, he and the Ultimates even split off from working for the U.S. government after some questionable assignments
in the Middle East almost led to America's downfall.
If you ever found yourself needing a Crisis Crossover
about various Captains America, look no further than Captain America Corps
Adaptations to other media
- Captain America (1944): a movie serial which incorporated practically nothing of the character except the basic costume.
- The Marvel Super Heroes (1966): An animated anthology series which adapted several Marvel Comics for television. This also introduced an often-repeated theme song for Cap: "When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose his shield must yield..."
- Unofficial turkish movie Three Big Men (1973) which gained notoriety status since it features (besides the captain) El Santo and evil Spider-Man.
- Two TV movies starring Reb Brown, built upon a completely revamped origin and backstory:
- Captain America (1979)
- Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
- He has had only two video games on his own: Captain America in: The Doom Tube of Dr. Megalomann (1987) on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 and Captain America: Super Soldier on next-gen consoles, but has featured alongside other heroes quite often, such as the arcade Beat 'em Up Captain America and the Avengers, the Fighting Game Avengers in Galactic Storm (with a different set of Avengers), and of course most of Capcom's Marvel Fighting Games, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, and Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Captain America (1990): This movie was originally going to play in theaters, but it went direct to video instead.
- Cap made various guest appearances and cameos in the 90's Marvel cartoons, like X-Men (appearing as an alternate version in another, Professor X-less future, and in one of the last episodes, teaming up with Wolverine in World War II), major roles in Spider-Man: TAS, and a couple of cameos as part of The Avengers in Fantastic Four, and a guest role in the horrible late 90's Avengers cartoon. He was planned to get his own series at that point (stories, character models, and a one-minute pitchfilm were all made), but was canned because of Marvel's bankruptcy; its slot in the Fox Kids lineup was filled by The Secret Filesof The Spy Dogs.
- Cap was mandated to appear in an episode of X-Men: Evolution, where he and Wolverine teamed-up during the war. In a twist from his usual narrative, this Captain America isn't frozen in the ocean during a mission gone wrong. Instead, S.H.I.E.L.D. cryogenically froze him, placing him in suspended animation because the super soldier treatment was flawed and slowly killing him. The episode ends with Wolverine visiting him in his berth, promising that they'll find the cure one day.
- A clearly Ultimate-inspired Cap appeared in the Ultimate Avengers animated films (2006) note .
- There have also been a couple of Captain America novels.
- The animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012) includes Captain America as one of the major characters. In a manner paralleling the Silver Age Avengers comics, he became the sixth superhero to join the team. Chronologically speaking, four episodes pass in between the event that led to the founding of the Avengers, and the events that led to Cap joining their team, just as his comic incarnation joined in issue four of the first Avengers volume.
- His story plays a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (where he's portrayed by Chris Evans), which features two films centred around his story arc:
- Captain America: The First Avenger, which was released in July 2011. It's a period piece set almost entirely during World War II, and ends with the Captain being frozen and waking up in modern times, while segueing directly into Cap's involvement in The Avengers.
- A sequel to The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was released in 2014, now set in modern times with Rogers being forced into the wrenching task of tracking down his best friend Bucky, now the brainwashed killing-machine The Winter Soldier, along with Alexander Pierce and the rest of SHIELD/HYDRA, accompanied by The Falcon, Black Widow, and Sharon Carter.
- Avengers Assemble (2013-), an Avengers animated series developed in conjunction with Man of Action Studios, features Captain America as one of the foremost members.
- Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers (2014-), an anime series featuring Captain America as one of the main characters.
And if you're wondering where Captain America's shield is now, let's just say you can catch it weeknights on Comedy Central at eleven-thirty EST...
Captain America also provides examples of:
- 10-Minute Retirement: Cap famously abandoned his identity in the 1970s after finding out the identity of the Secret Empire's leadernote and continued to operate as the Nomad. He also gave up the identity in the 80s when the U.S. Government tried to force Cap to work as a government-sanctioned operative, soon resolving to continue superheroics as "The Captain".
- Action Girl: Two of Cap's three major love interests: Sharon Carter and Diamondback. Not to mention Black Widow (who is Bucky's main love interest).
- Sharon's great aunt Peggy was also one, being a member of the French resistance.
- Also Rikki Barnes, formerly the Bucky from Heroes Reborn, who crossed over into the 616 reality and now goes by Nomad.
- And in the film version, Peggy Carter, who, instead of being a member of the French Resistance, actually works for the U.S. government agency responsible for turning Steve into a super-soldier. Depending on her relation to Sharon Carter and how closely they follow the comics, this could make things awkward for Steve.
- A Father to His Men: Any team he gets put in charge he treats like his family, possibly because of his late Sidekick Bucky.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Steve will be temporarily replaced as Captain America by Sam Wilson, better known as The Falcon.
- Alcoholic Parent: Steve's father, Joseph Rogers, was an alcoholic. Steve still loved him despite that, and the fact that Joseph was apparently an abusive alcoholic towards his wife.
- Loved him, yes, but equally knew that he was a weak man and feared becoming like him.
- All American Face: Oh yeah.
- All-Loving Hero: He's the Marvel counterpart of Superman, after all. At one point, Magneto tried to erase his mind of all prejudice towards mutants. Problem for Magneto: Captain America has no prejudice towards anybody.
- All Your Powers Combined: A Badass Normal version of this. Anyone who knows about athletes can tell you that not every physique is suited to every type of athletic performance. Marathon runners are not sprinters, sprinters are not weightlifters, weightlifters are not pole vaulters, and so on. However, Cap can do it all thanks to his Super Soldier Serum that gives him the peak of human ability in all of these things at once.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Agent America and Fighting American (Awesome Entertainment). AA was so thinly-veiled that Marvel sued, and told Rob Liefeld that FA couldn't throw his shield.
- The Fighting American, ironically, was originally created by Kirby and Simon for Harvey Comics, as a parody of Captain America type characters. Leifeld either missed the irony or didn't care and quite literally continued telling his Captain America story with the character.
- Alternate Continuity: Combined in the Ultimate Universe. While the "regular" Cap is unusually sensitive and intelligent for any time period, the Ultimate version is a '40s Average Joe thrown into the modern day, leading to a mixture of confusion and outright macho and jingoistic behavior. To be fair, he was advanced for his time in some respects, as evidenced by his treasured photo of him standing with the famed African-American fighter pilots, The Tuskegee Airmen. Depending on the Writer though, these hints can vary or even disappear entirely. (For instance, in a Warren Ellis-written appearance, Ultimate Cap once bragged about how much he hates educated people.)
- America Saves the Day: Built around this.
- Amicable Exes: Steve maintains a decent working relationship with Sharon even when they're "off." He is also friendly enough with ex Bernie Rosenthal to enlist her as Bucky's lawyer during the Trial of Captain America arc.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Cap obviously isn't, but he has had several villains who were: Cobra, the Serpent Society, Porcupine, Armadillo, Man-Ape, Rhino, Scorpion, etc.
- Anti-Hero Substitute: USAgent's brief stint as Captain America. Only this version, temporary insanity aside with the Red Skull's manipulations, soon made an honest effort to emulate Rogers' ethics and was the one to truly convince his predecessor to become the Sentinel of Liberty again.
- Arc Welding: Mark Gruenwald revealed, when he resurrected the Red Skull in Captain America #350, that every bad guy or bad guy group that had appeared in roughly the last four years (save for the Serpent Society) worked for Red Skull as part of his newly formed cabal of evil groups under his control. Mind you, the groups themselves didn't know this; the Red Skull infiltrated them with a few sleeper agents to secretly bend the groups' activities to work toward his goals. When Flag-Smasher, the leader of one of the groups, found this out, he fled the group and warned Captain America.
- Arch-Enemy: The Red Skull
- The Artifact: Steve's secret identity rarely ever served much purpose, as he had no consistent civilian supporting cast; he had one pretty much because it was assumed all superheroes should have one. Done away with in 2002, and it hasn't really impacted the comics much at all.
- Also, the presence of Bucky, a Kid Sidekick in World War II, is becoming more and more awkward to explain why the US Military would tolerate a child going into combat with Cap. Currently, they have had to shoehorn his presence as a kind of youngish agent who is actually of borderline legal age.
- Ed Brubaker retconned this. Bucky was trained to do covert operations that Captain America couldn't be seen doing.
- Artistic License – Biology: Baron Zemo I had a mask permanently stuck to his head due to Adhesive X. According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the mask has two eyeholes that allow him to see and is thin enough to allow him to hear perfectly. It's also porous enough to allow him to breathe, but he can't eat or drink and has to take nourishment intravenously. However, somehow he's able to talk without difficulty, meaning that the mask isn't stuck tightly to his entire face. Even if nobody actually thought of cutting the mask off (or at least a hole for the mouth), normal epidermal shedding and oil secretions would have loosened the mask eventually. Just ask anyone who has accidentally superglued fingers together.
- As Lethal as It Needs to Be: Cap's shield, Depending on the Writer or continuity. Sometimes the edges are portrayed as razor sharp, other times blunted.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Not for nothing is Cap considered the leader of the Marvel Superhero community. When he speaks, Gods listen.
- During the first Secret War, when the Beyonder had sent a large group of heroes and villains to Battleworld so that they could fight each other, the heroes were all gathered together and Cap was focusing the discussion on who should be in charge. He worked his way through almost all the other team leaders present (Reed Richards, the Wasp, Professor X, even the Hulk, who at the time had Banner's personality in control), trying to get one of them to step up, but all of them had some reason why they could not lead such a large team (in fairness to the Hulk, he just shrugged and said to let Cap give the orders). The way the scene is set up, it's perfectly obvious to almost everyone that Cap should be in charge. Professor X even cuts the knot and suggests it. Wolverine, who at the time was still in his jerkass personality, immediately objected and said Cap was the least of them and he wouldn't follow him (remember, at this time, Wolverine had almost no dealings with Cap and lacked the enormous respect he has for Cap now). Cue Thor, who up to this point had stayed in the background and out of the discussion, to immediately step up and make it very clear that not only was he perfectly willing to follow orders from Cap, but to also get the message across that there wasn't anyone else there that he was going to let take command over Captain America. That ended the entire discussion. Even Wolverine shut up and went along after that.
- In fact, it's not just the Marvel Universe. A crossover with the Justice League had him lead the combined teams during the final assault upon the Big Bad.
[...]We'll need a commander... Someone who can lead both teams, make us one troop. I believe that should be you, Captain America.
Captain America: (stunned) I'm flattered, but I'm not so sure. Our worlds' conflicting nature got us tense... Flared our tempers, clouded our judgment...
Superman: I know. But you're still the best one for the job.
- Awesome Mccoolname: A bit understated, but Steve Rogers. Does that sound like a character John Wayne would play, or does that sound like a character John Wayne would pay?
- Back from the Dead: Cap himself, naturally, but also Bucky, as The Winter Soldier, his archnemesis, the Red Skull, and his first girlfriend, Sharon Carter.
- Bad Present: Every incarnation of Cap uses this trope to some capacity, as the whole point to the character post-Golden Age is that he's a Fish out of Temporal Water. Depending on the Writer, the modern day can be anywhere between a pure nightmare or a place he no longer belongs to, but fights to defend anyway. That said, he's also the first person to admit that his era was far from perfect.
- In one story, a reporter is doing a story about the changes Captain America faced when he was revived, and asks Cap "Would you have gone back to the 40s if you could have?" Captain America's answer is to point to a group shot of the Howling Commandos, pointing to the two men to Cap's immediate right and left in the picture. Cap then explains that in all those group shots, Cap would intentionally position Gabriel Jones and Jim Morita right next to him because that way, they'd never be cropped out of the picture. Why would they be cropped? Because Jones was an African-American and Morita was a Japanese-American. Cap then points out that in today's world, it would never occur to anyone to ask why a black man and an Asian man were standing next to Captain America, and that this was one way in which the modern world was better than the 40s.
- Badass Normal: Borderline example — there's a reason his Super Serum was so sought after. Technically it doesn't push any of his abilities to a "superhuman" level, but few if any humans have every single athletic ability at peak potential all at once (speed plus stamina plus strength, etc). Thus, he is quite capable of holding his own with people who have more impressive superpowers. In real life, athletes have to make tradeoffs between strength, endurance, agility etc. and also different body types are better suited to different athletic disciplines - the very best sprinters are large and muscular whereas the best long distance runners are short and skinny. Demonstrated by decathletes who have to train for ten different events - they are not as good at them as those athletes who specialise in them. Cap doesn't have these limitations; he can sprint 100m in 9.75 seconds, run a marathon in two hours, bench press 500kg, and perform Olympic-level feats of gymnastic ability.
- Some of his villains fall under this as well. Like Batroc the Leaper.
- His non-superhero allies like Sharon Carter or Dum Dum Dugan definitely count too.
- Intercompany crossovers with DC have established that, physically, he and Batman are very nearly equal. Bats's evaluation is that, in a fair fight, Cap could probably beat him, but it would be a very long fight — which means Batman would never intend on fighting him fairly.
- Battle Couple: Steve and Sharon, Steve and Rachel/Diamondback, Bucky and Natasha/Black Widow.
- Battle Cry: Avengers Assemble! Technically it's for anyone on the Avengers, but usually it's Cap saying it.
- Berserk Button: The Nazis are still a sore point for him decades after World War II. Justified in that, unlike the real world, Nazism in the present-day Marvel Universe isn't just underground political movements and street gangs.
- The easiest way to make even Captain America want to kill you? Look at Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson or Tony Stark the wrong way. Steve will come for you and it will not be pretty.
- Becoming the Mask: Meta level. In part because he has no real secret identity, Cap and Steve are pretty much synonymous (and everyone knows it). Any other Captain in Marvel tends to get called by something else.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He may well be the friendliest guy in the Marvel Universe, but God help you if he discovers you're harming or oppressing innocents.
- Big Bad: The Red Skull.
- Bigger Bad: Adolf Hitler during the Golden Age.
- Big Good: Steve, mainly for The Avengers, but also the Marvel Universe as a whole. Any superhero worthy of the title in the Marvel U will defer to Cap, no exceptions. He's SO MUCH a Big Good that he's actually been able to lift Thor's hammer.
- Black Best Friend: Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, Cap's most consistent partner, actually also the first African-American superhero. (Black Panther, who preceded him, is African, not African-American. He'd probably take offense to being called that, in fact.)
- The Falcon is also the first black superhero ever to not have the word "Black" in his hero name.
- Lamar "Battlestar" Hoskins was also this to John Walker's Cap, until Walker's untimely public assassination when the latter was handing the role back to Rogers.
- Blocking Stops All Damage: A plot point. His shield can stop just about anything.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Bucky Barnes, during his stint as the Winter Soldier.
- Happened to Cap himself on one unfortunate instance, courtesy of Dr. Faustus and the Grand Director. He even wielded a swastika-adorned version of his shield.note
- Brought to You by the Letter "A": On his mask and an iconic part of Cap's outfit.
- Canon Discontinuity: A story by Chuck Austen revealed that Cap's suspended animation was actually at the hands of the US Government, who feared he'd have interfered with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki strikes. All of Cap's memories of the Baron Zemo incident were memory implants. This has never been acknowledged again.
- Whether Cap has killed enemy forces has wavered back and forth. In the Golden Age, he and Bucky were blow-torching Nazis. After his resurrection, Marvel invoked the classic Thou Shalt Not Kill law on Cap and he claimed he'd never killed anyone "even during the war." Ed Brubaker has since reversed that: Cap did in fact kill during the war and still will when there's no other alternative.
- Actually, it was revealed that Bucky himself had always had a more sinister purpose: handling the covert killings that Captain America himself couldn't do from the front lines. Why else would Cap bring around a little kid on the battlegrounds?
- Break the Cutie: John "USAgent" Walker's entire tenure as Captain America was one of these.
- The Cape: He's like Superman without the ability to fly. How balls-out crazy-brave is that?
- The Captain: He actually used it for his codename after he refused to become an operative of the U.S. government, and he's actually earned the rank of "Captain" in terms of military ranks.
- Captain Geographic: of America.
- Captain Patriotic: Probably not the Ur Example though.
- Captain Superhero: He might not be the first, but he's one of the most famous. However, he is one of the few who have actually earned the title of Captain.
- Charlie Brown from Outta Town: His stints as Nomad and as The Captain.
- Chemistry Can Do Anything: Like turn scrawny beanpoles into brawny American super-soldiers ready to protect freedom.
- Close on Title: The comic detailing Captain America's death, "The Death of the Dream", saved its title for the closing.
- Coattail-Riding Relative: How the first, male Viper tried to get into the supervillain business. His brother was the original Eel.
- Comic-Book Time: Cap retains an "anchor" in the 1940s, but the amount of time he spent frozen in ice just grows and grows as time goes on. When he was first revived in 1964 he'd spent 20 years on ice, which was lengthy, but wouldn't have been a wholly unfamiliar world — in the current comics he woke up at some point in the early 21st century.
- The DVD Commentary for Captain America: The Winter Soldier touches on this briefly: a major component of Cap's classic storylines is his perspective on modern-day issues— but the "modern day" keeps sliding forward. In the comics, Steve often reflects the national mood over things like Watergate, but in the film and current 616 continuity, he slept through it all.
- This also affects Sharon Carter. In the 1960s, Sharon was the much-younger sister of Peggy Carter, Cap's 1940s lover. She was later retconned into Peggy's niece, to match the fact that Peggy had to keep aging to keep the 1940s/modern day split accurate.
- Convenient Miscarriage: Averted; when Sharon is faced with the prospect of her and Steve's child that she's carrying falling into the hands of the Red Skull and being used as a weapon, she stabs herself in the gut.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: This is the essential modernization of Cap in the 1970s. Rogers became so disillusioned by the American establishment and the abuse of the US Government that he eventually gave up being Cap for a while in favor of Nomad, the man without a country. Eventually, he realized that he could champion America's ideals as Cap, giving him the liberty to butt heads with the US Government when necessary.
- Costume Copycat: U.S. Agent (who was actually given the name and costume of Captain America by the government during one of the latter's ethically-motivated retirements. Though The Cap Came Back, U.S. Agent has never stopped trying to relive those brief glory days.)
- Cultured Warrior: Rogers is a talented visual artist who drew for his own comic book about himself once.
- Daddy's Little Villain: Sin, the Red Skull's psychotic daughter.
- Dating Catwoman: Diamondback
- Dead Man's Trigger Finger: A Captain America/The Punisher teamup comic has Frank cause this with a precise knife-throw into a guard with a machine gun, which takes out the other guards for them.
- Dead Sidekick: Bucky was a textbook example of this (emphasis on "was"). He would've fit this trope again, if it weren't for Nick Fury using the last vial of Infinity Formula to save him.
- Death Is Cheap: Sure, Captain America was shot by a sniper. But the gun didn't shoot ordinary bullets, it just... shifted Steve through space and time?
- Depending on the Artist: The trend in recent years of depicting Cap (Steve Rogers' suit, anyway) with scale armor (see the current page pic), a look that debuted in the 1990s Sentinel of Liberty miniseries that retold his origin. Historically, Cap's shirt was said to have been made of "synthetic chainmail", which wouldn't have such an obviously scaly look (and was usually drawn as though he was wearing normal superhero tights).
- Depending on the Writer: Exactly how strong and tough Steve is compared to regular guys depends on the writing. He's never depicted as being strong enough to throw cars around or anything like that (even agility-based Spider-Man is stronger than him), but if the writer is generous, with great effort he can bend weak steel, heal from injuries in days that would have most guys laid up for months (and heal in months what would take most guys years, or never) and run at the speed of a sprinter for the duration of a marathon runner...but again, the extent of this depends on the writer. Many claim "it's not superpowers, really", but isn't having the body of an omni-athlete without needing to train excessively a power of its own?
- Determinator: Of all the heroes of the Marvel U minus Spidey, none have the willpower and "never say die" attitude that Cap has.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Basically his day-job as leader of the Avengers. In his spare time, he has faced villains holding the Cosmic Cube, and defeated them. More than once.
- Disposable Superhero Maker
- The Dragon: The Skull has had several, including the aforementioned Sin, Crossbones, and Mother Night. Note that the Skull himself began his career as a Dragon, in this case to Hitler himself. Post-World War II, though, he's working for himself (and, in fact, disposed of at least one cloned version of Hitler specifically because he wanted to stay that way).
- Early Installment Weirdness: Cap's cowl was originally a separate piece of material like a hat, which was soon changed to a full connected cowl. John Byrne later explained that Cap had it knocked off in a fight and his secret identity was almost exposed as a result. To fight that, Cap modified with connecting material to the rest of his costume, which had the added benefit of covering his neck with his costume's armor.
- Empowered Badass Normal: James "Bucky" Barnes since getting a cyborg arm. He was Badass Normal before that.
- Steve, himself, when you consider that although none of his physical abilities reach superhuman levels (depending on the continuity), no unenhanced human can be as fast AND as strong AND as agile, etc. as Steve Rogers, at the same time.
- Steve Rogers does have at least one 'power', though it's not good in a fight. Even the flawed super-soldier variants like Nick Fury's greatly increases their life span. Years after his deep freeze, Cap's really not getting much older than his WWII days.
- Enemy Mine: Frequently with Batroc, once with the Flag-Smasher, once with the Red Skull of all people to try and stop Hitler again.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Flag-Smasher once abandoned one of his plans to unify the world when he learned it was financed by the Red Skull. As he explained to Cap during an Enemy Mine scenario, no matter how much it might benefit him, it would benefit the Red Skull more, and he couldn't stomach that.
- Batroc the Leaper may be a mercenary, but Mister Hyde's plan to kill everyone in New York City just to get revenge on Cobra is enough to make him help Cap take him down.
- During the Acts of Vengeance, Loki tried to put the Red Skull on a supervillain team with the Mandarin (who is Chinese), Doctor Doom (Romani), and Magneto (Jewish Holocaust survivor... who spent time among Romany), among others. They tended to look at the Skull like something you'd scrape off your shoe. Magneto ends the team-up by burying him alive.
- When even The Joker won't work with you (and this was the baddie who once became the Iranian ambassador!), you've crossed a line.
- Evil Counterpart: 50s Cap.
- Expansion Pack Past: He's probably had more adventures in World War II than there were days in the war; there's a tendency for stories involving him to feature a one or two-page flashback to some World War II event to contrast with whatever's happening in the present. Famous World War II events (D-Day, for example), have been retold frequently with conflicting information about what he was doing then.
- Cap's new Marvel NOW! ongoing series appears to do this for his past prior to becoming the Super-Soldier, showing the hardships Steve and his family had to go through in 1930s America.
- The new limited series Hail Hydra! does this for the entire HYDRA organization — unmoored from being the Marvel equivalent to the real-world ODESSA (and later a generic and amorphous "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world''), it is now part of a massive Ancient Conspiracy that has been laboring since the days of Gilgamesh to create an army of immortal superhumans to rule the world with.
- Face-Heel Turn: Captain America was accused of doing one during Operation Rebirth (teaming up with the Red Skull, though the two were teaming up to stop Hitler), leading to him being briefly exiled from the US.
- The Fixer did one during "No Exit", but managed to avoid getting caught.
- Faking the Dead: John Walker, when turning the title of Captain America back to Steve Rogers in a public press conference, is assassinated by a member of the Watchdogs, presumably in retribution for Walker's violent campaign against them. The Watchdog was a fake, however, and the assassination staged so as to rehabilitate Walker's image, and allow the government to resurrect him as USAgent.
- The Fettered: Captain America is the embodiment of America's ideals and virtues, and has throughout his run has avoided killing whenever possible (well, there was a vampire that one time, but he doesn't count). He's killed several times, but it's always been only when he has no choice, and causes much angst. During World War II, he did kill people, but he was a soldier, and it's not something he boasts about. He also frets about damage to churches, and is very accommodating to accountants trying to total up superfight destruction.
- Fictional Political Party: Once featured a Presidential Candidate who started the Third Wing Party. It turned out to all be part of Red Skull's latest evil scheme.
- Fighting Irish: Both Dum-Dum Dugan and Steve himself.
- Fights Like a Normal: He's basically a Badass Normal cranked Up to Eleven via Super Serum.
- First Law of Resurrection: First for Bucky, then for Steve.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: The basis for Cap's re-introduction into the modern era.
- This got worse in the Dimension Z arc. Although Steve was missing from his home dimension for only 30 minutes, he lived there for 12 years — Word of God states that he spent longer in Dimension Z than he has spent in the present day since thawing out.
- Folk Hero
- Friendly Enemy: Steve Rogers and Batroc the Leaper. They are usually really friendly with each other and culminated in Steve Rogers spending the last couple of hours he thought he had left alive with Batroc.
- Subverted when Batroc squares off against Bucky Cap in the "Captain America and Batroc" special. He looks at their confrontation as an opportunity to improve himself in combat, as he does in his Friendly Rivalry with Steve, but all Bucky is concerned with is dealing with him in short order.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The Red Skull is one of the best examples in comics: Johann Schmidt was an ordinary teenage petty thief growing up in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. He eventually managed to land a job as a bellhop at a luxury hotel frequented by Hitler himself. By pure chance, he happened to be in Hitler's room while the latter was berating an officer, prompting Hitler to claim he could turn the bellhop into a better Nazi. He did. And it went From Bad to Worse. He went from a petty hooligan to being listed by S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of the greatest existing threats to humanity, despite being a Badass Normal most of the time in a setting that includes things like a planet-eating Eldritch Abomination. If that isn't a perfect example of this trope, then nothing is.
- Sin is a more recent example; a completely forgotten character who under Brubaker, became Red Skull's chief underling and ultimately scoring an act of evil even the Red Skull found horrific: killing Captain America's unborn child when Sin shot Sharon Carter in the stomach. And now she has recently become the New Red Skull and is trying to outdo her father.
- And now she just killed Bucky Cap after ripping his bionic arm and beating him to death with it (mild exaggeration, she just sent him flying several feet off the air with it). I'd say she's succeeded in outdoing her father. Unless somehow she's shifted Bucky out of time space to take over his body.
- She did indeed kill a Bucky, just not the Bucky, as it turns out, courtesy of the Infinity Formula, and a well-placed Life-Model Decoy.
- Frozen in Time: See Comic-Book Time. His Human Popsicle backstory means he can stay rooted in the 1940s without the kind of problems this has posed, say, Magneto.
- Genius Bruiser: The man's mind is as well-developed as his body.
- Gentle Giant: Steve is this trope even with his costume on.
- The Good Captain: Was actually a Captain in the US Army before getting frozen and being listed as MIA.
- Good Counterpart: Rogers was given the whole Captain America persona specifically in part to counter the terrifying propaganda value of Germany's Red Skull.
- Good Is Not Dumb: So very much.
- Good Is Old-Fashioned: Often jeered at for upholding "outdated" principles.
- Good Old Ways: Sometimes he attributes his standards to his coming from an older time.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Along with Innocent Blue Eyes, befitting of one of the purest people in the Marvel Universe.
- The Heart: Of The Marvel Universe. Also, Captain America is not only The Leader of The Avengers, he's also The Heart seeing as the Mighty Avengers without him seemed more like a millitary institute (which is somewhat Fridge Logic, considering Captain America is a Military Superhero) and he's the one that most people rally behind when someone cries Avengers Assemble!
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cap is this with a lot of people. Among the core Avengers, he's particularly close with Iron Man and Hawkeye, and Thor to a lesser extent, while outside of them he's really close with The Falcon and Bucky Barnes. Spider-Man also seems to have a man-crush on him, on top of that.
- Falcon and Bucky also became this during the time Cap was dead. As a favour to his dead best friend, Falcon sought out Bucky and made sure he was OK as Steve was trying to do before his death, and helped him come into his own as Captain America. The two continued to be friends well after Steve was revived, and on his trial, Bucky pleaded to be given a pass to go save Falcon and Natasha, specifically calling them his best friends.
- The Hero: He's The Leader of The Avengers and the Big Good of the Marvel Universe.
- Heroic BSOD: A rare sight, but at the end of the first issue of the Age of Ultron storyline, we see Cap slumped against the wall, looking utterly hopeless and emotionally defeated for the first time, since ever.
- He's Back: The appropriately-titled Captain America: Reborn, dealing with Steve's return to the land of the living.
- History Repeats: In Marvel 2099, it was revealed that Steve once again found himself in a block of ice at the end of the Heroic Age and finds himself thawed in 2099: Manifest Destiny. That said, a clone of him created by John Herod as a puppet had this as his cover story.
- Honor Before Reason: Even as the world becomes more hateful, dark, and cynical, Steve Rogers refuses to lower himself to the standards of "normality."
- Hope Bringer: Steve's return was more or less the beginning of the end of Norman Osborn's reign of power.
- Horror Host: Cap can actually be considered one, albeit only on a technicality. The last two issues of his Golden Age title were retitled Captain America's Weird Tales, because horror was selling and superheroes weren't. Cap didn't actually introduce any stories "on panel," though. In issue #74, he appeared in a regular Captain America story (albeit one with horror aspects, as he fought the Red Skull in, literally, Hell.) He didn't appear in #75 at all, except in the title.
- Humble Hero: Part of the point of him. He wasn't anything too special before he got the Super Soldier Serum, and he's pointed out he wasn't supposed to be unique, just the first of many. His humility is one of the reasons he's the embodiment of the American Dream: he's a nobody who became a somebody, and he's eternally thankful for it. Perhaps best summed up by the following exchange from Captain America: The First Avenger:
Cap: Nothin'. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.
- Human Popsicle: One of the Trope Codifiers; any use of this trope in comics is almost always a reference to him.
- I Call It "Vera": Some stories indicate that, in Cap's head, the shield is actually named "Shield".
- Iconic Item: If a character who isn't Cap holds up the Mighty Shield, everyone stops and takes notice.
- And more often than not, seeing someone who isn't Capt holding the shield tends to make them angry. During the Civil War storyline, there was a skirmish between Cap's people and Iron Man's people, and Cap got separated from his shield and had to retreat without it. Spider-Man, while on Iron Man's team at the time, went to retrieve the shield so he could get it back to Cap. When he found it, a bunch of street punks had gotten to it first and were gloating over it, speculating on how much they could sell it for. That's when they heard a voice say "put that down right now," and looked up to see an extremely pissed-off Spider-Man getting ready to kick some serious ass. Needless to say, they put down the shield and left quickly.
- It's different when Cap gives the shield to someone because he knows they'll need it, like when he gave it to Wonder Man because he was injured and knew Wonder Man would need it as a defense against the enemy's laser blasts, or when he gave it to Superman during an intercompany crossover because he had to stay behind to direct the battle, and knew Superman was going to draw the brunt of the enemy's fire. Under those conditions, no one said anything. During the battle, an impressed Superman said "This shield...it's incredible!" To which Thor responded "Enjoy it while you can. There is nothing else like it in all the worlds."
- Ideal Hero: Captain America is Marvel Comics' moral equivalent to Superman.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: Possibly an Ur Example.
- Improbable Weapon User: Cap's shield, which he uses as not only a shield against weapons fire, but as a throwing weapon itself.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Steve, you the man.
- Inspector Javert: Steve turns into this in X-23: Target X. He feels personally responsible for all the killings X-23 has carried out because she slipped his grasp after her field test by masquerading as a wounded survivor. He reveals he's been tracking her down ever since (approximately six years) and is obsessed with bringing her to justice. He's driven to the point where he completely ignores Matt Murdock's attempts to warn him that S.H.I.E.L.D. won't care really about justice, but instead will use her as a weapon the same way she was used by the Facility. Before he can actually turn her over, however, he recognizes the truth of this and that Laura was as much a victim as the people she killed, and lets her go.
- The Irish Diaspora: Steve is Irish-American.
- Kudzu Plot: The Scourge of the Underworld plotline.
- The Lancer: Bucky was his during the war. Sam Wilson is another when not Avenging, Tony Stark is another when he is.
- Legacy Character: ...this could take a while.
- Captain America and Bucky
- After their "deaths" in WWII, Harry Truman asked the similarly-themed hero Spirit of '76, William Naslund, and Bucky's friend Fred Davis to take over as Captain America and Bucky, to keep America's morale up. After Naslund died in the line of duty, Jeffrey Mace, another flag-themed superhero called Patriot, finished his mission and took over as Cap.
- In the '50s, William Burnsides and Jack Monroe were genetically altered to be the new "Commie Smasher" Cap and Bucky. They were put on ice after their version of the serum started driving them crazy. "Evil '50s Cap" takes this a little far, having gotten plastic surgery and altered his vocal cords to look and sound exactly like Cap, and even legally changed his name to "Steven Rogers."
- When Steve had the Captain America identity taken from him by the government, he got a new costume and called himself The Captain. John Walker became Captain America, and Lemar Hoskins became Bucky. Hoskins later changed his name to Battlestar, while Walker traded costumes with Steve, using his "The Captain" costume to become "U.S.Agent."
- Rick Jones, sidekick of the Hulk and the Avengers-at-large, also did a stint as a substitute Bucky. Sam Wilson acknowledged him as the other person who knows what it's like to be Steve's partner when he eulogized Steve.
- Isaiah Bradley was the only survivor of an illegal experiment using black men as test subjects regarding the super soldier serum. He used his enhanced strength and the identity of Captain America to be a hero before Steve did, and became an urban legend as "the black Captain America," revered by African-Americans and completely unknown to anyone else due to extensive government cover-ups. He suffered brain damage due to the imperfect serum, and his grandson, Eli Bradley, took up his legacy and that of Jeffrey Mace, as Patriot. For bonus points, Eli also got Steve's triangular shield.
- The Heroes Reborn universe included Rikki Barnes, Bucky's granddaughter, as the new Bucky. She later crossed over to the main 616-verse.
- In the event of his death (which happened in Civil War), Steve made two requests of Tony Stark: choose a new Captain America and ensure Bucky doesn't lose himself. Tony misinterpreted that as Steve wanting Bucky to be Cap, and while that wasn't what Steve had in mind, he approved and insisted Bucky keep it, taking over SHIELD as Commander Rogers, up until Bucky faked his death and returned to covert ops as the Winter Soldier.
- After losing the super-soldier serum, Steve chose longtime friend and partner Sam Wilson to be Cap. Sam's Cap incorporates his Falcon wings and bird powers into the costume.
- There is also Nomad. When Steve became disillusioned with the state of America, he discarded Cap and became "the Man Without a Country." After he realized that he could still fight for his ideals as Captain America, he passed the Nomad identity to former '50s Bucky, Jack Monroe. After Jack's death, Black Widow bestowed it on Rikki Barnes, the alternate universe female Bucky, the so-called "Girl Without a World." After Rikki's death, the mantle is set to be inherited by Ian, Steve's adopted son from another dimension.
- Superheroes inspired by Steve's aesthetic include the aforementioned Patriot and Spirit of '76, as well as American Dream from MC 2 and Commander A, a futuristic Cap analogue from Captain America Corps.
- Peggy Carter was first known as Agent13, before her sister (later niece), Sharon Carter. American Dream, whose real name is Shannon Carter, is their niece, as well, and was raised by Peggy.
- He's also got a few Legacy Villains, such as the 12th and 13th Barons Zemo. Sin has also taken her father's mantle.
- Le Parkour: Pretty much Batroc the Leaper's schtick. It's really played up in the "Captain America and Batroc" one-shot. This is a bit of a Retcon since Batroc originally practised Savate, a different French martial art. He uses both these days.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me (one of the best-known examples)
- This is taken to extremes with the second Marvel vs. Capcom 3 trailer when Cap uses his shield to STOP A CRASHING HELICOPTER.
- Machete Mayhem: The villain Machete, who oddly enough bears a striking resemblance to Danny Trejo.
- Made of Indestructium: Captain America's shield, made out of a unique Vibranium-steel alloy melded together by a unknown catalyst and the only non-magical thing more durable than true adamantium. Only the power of a skyfather or a cosmic entity can destroy the shield.
- Mad Love: Red Skull and Mother Night, one-sided at least. God only knows what she saw in him.
- Magnetic Hero: Captain America is so well-respected by the superhero community that they usually follow his lead whether he's their official leader or not. This is because he's both incredibly competent despite not having superpowers and because they trust him to always be true to the right ideals. It comes to a point that when he fails them, the whole community gets demoralized (ex. in Civil War.)
- Matzo Fever: In the 1980s, Steve Rogers was engaged to Bernie Rosenthal (whose parents would have preferred her looking for a Nice Jewish Boy, like her ex-husband).
- Military Superhero: Emphasis on both words. Cap started out as a Super Soldier (and actually ranked officer, the Captain is both his moniker and actual army rank) for the United States Army. He actually did the jump in D-Day with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and fought the frontlines against the Nazis. Yet back then, he was already a paragon of virtue and heroism. Being unfrozen in the present only confirmed that honest and selfless asskicking is NEVER out of style.
- Miraculous Malfunction: The material that became his shield was created accidentally during an experiment to merge vibranium and an iron alloy. An unknown catalyst entered the mixture while the scientist overseeing it was asleep.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Faustus, an evil psychologist, and Dr. Arnim Zola, an evil geneticist.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Roger Stern gave this to Captain America, in order to handwave various conflicting backstories for Captain America, past and future, in terms of having Cap's memory damaged due to him being frozen alive.
- My Country, Right or Wrong:
- Very much averted with the character's transition to The Bronze Age of Comic Books, where Cap came to accept that while his country did not always live up to its ideals, those ideals themselves are worth fighting for, especially when his own government violated them.
- Also averted in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, where Captain America and the Ultimates break off from the USA after it sends them on shady missions.
- My Greatest Failure: Losing the Civil War X-Over, as hell on earth broke out afterwards.
- Well before that, there was his failure to save Bucky from dying in WWII. Well, until it was revealed that Bucky didn't exactly bite the bullet that time...
- In the Ultimate Universe, his guilt over being partially responsible for Peter Parker's senseless death during the Death of Spider-Man storyline led Cap to quit from being a hero. However, the Nimrod Sentinels' attack on the U.S. and subsequent dividing of the nation has led to Cap returning to the Ultimates to defend the fragmented America from collapsing even further.
- Nazi Hunter: Cap hunted them during the war and has had to sniff them out after being unfrozen, since many of his enemies are Nazis. This includes the Red Skull.
- New Season, New Name: Cap's Golden Age book became Captain America's Weird Tales in its last two issues.
- Once Cap became the main focus of Tales of Suspense, the comic changed its title to his name starting with issue 100.
- Nice Guy: Steve Rogers, under the uniform, is still a kind and polite gentleman and the picture of the wholesome 1930's boy next door.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: When he was resurrected, Bucky's new look embodied this, right down to his Cable-esque cyborg arm. Bucky actually averts it, however, since he actively tries to be a better hero, especially since he became Captain America.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Subverted! His childhood friend, Arnie Roth, is living with another man when he and Cap meet again in 1982.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: People have a bad habit of underestimating Batroc the Leaper because of his usually friendly nature. Forgetting that he can fight toe to toe with Captain America. He was once even able to hold his own against Cap and Hawkeye at the same time!
- Older Than They Look: Cap looks to be in his physical prime despite being over 80 years old. Same goes for Bucky when he was brought back.
- One-Man Army: OK, sometimes Cap brings along a partner or a friend. But it's not like he needs to....
- Paper-Thin Disguise: For a while, Cap disguised himself as a hero known as The Captain. The costume looked identical to his normal Captain America costume except for darker colors and a slightly different chest-insignia. He even threw a shield around that also had a slight color-change. Here is a cover depicting both costumes.◊ This costume somehow fooled everyone, including his allies on The Avengers. The costume would later be worn by the USAgent.
- The Paragon: Well, duh. It's pretty much a given that in all of comic books, regardless of companies, the only characters who are bigger paragons than Captain America are Superman and DC's Captain Marvel. See the page quotes. They're his promise to himself that he'll use his abilities only in pursuit of a future better than the present.
- The Red Skull tried to break that image in-universe by using the Commission to force Rogers to quit as Captain America and give the title to the Super-Patriot, John Walker. It wasn't until the Watchdogs murdered Walker's parents that he truly became unhinged and threatened the image of Captain America as The Paragon. Once the Skull was exposed and forced out of power, the remaining members of the Commission decided that the only way to rehabilitate Walker's image was to stage his assassination and give him the new identity of USAgent, going so far as to change his civilian identity as well.
- Pinball Projectile: Cap's shield. Oooh boy, Cap's shield.
- Platonic Life Partners: He's pretty much this with most of the female Avengers he works with, with special mention to Wasp (with exception to the Ultimate universe counterparts who dated briefly) and Carol Danvers. He's also decent enough friends with Black Widow, but they're much closer friends in the films.
- Falcon and Sharon Carter are pretty good buds, in part because of their mutual closeness to Steve. After Steve's death, Sam spent a lot of time looking out for Sharon and visiting her regularly, often staying over, but they explicitly never got intimate.
- Politically Correct History: The regular continuity Cap is usually depicted in his World War II days in the modern stories as a man without any prejudices in his personality that were considered perfectly reasonable assumptions by many mainstream Americans in the 1940s, like homophobia or the like. Sometimes justified in those period stories by him discovering the horrors of bigotry at its absolute worst, such as the Nazi concentration/death camps, which obliterated any racial/religious/sexual orientation prejudices he had left. Sometimes it is simply explained that Steve Rogers was a sickly, intelligent and well educated artist from liberal New York before he enlisted, so he probably wouldn't be that mainstream in his views and he knew what it is likely to be bullied as a minority. In an 80's Avengers/X-Men crossover, he and Magneto were half-fighting, half-debating. Magneto doubted Cap's claims that he had no prejudice against mutants, and blasted him with a device that could remove prejudice from someone's mind. Magneto then questioned Cap again, and got the same answer; the device hadn't affected Cap because there was no prejudice to remove. Magneto, whose entire worldview centered around the belief that humans could never accept mutants, was profoundly shaken and immediately surrendered.
- Power Trio: The Invaders core group: Namor the Sub-Mariner (Id), Human Torch (Ego), Captain America (Superego).
- And of course, him and the other Big three of the Avengers, Iron Man and Thor.
- Powered Armor: While Cap's faced off against many armored villains, he himself had to don an armored version of his costume in the 90s due to the Super-Soldier Serum breaking down in his body and causing Cap to be paralyzed.
- Powers Do the Fighting: MODOK doesn't put in much effort in a fight except for pressing buttons on his chair or using Psychic Powers. That's good for him, because he's a huge head in a chair with stubby limbs.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Again, Cap's shield.
- President Evil: In a story by Steven Englehart back in the early 70's, Cap was hunting down a Secret Society; he managed to track down the boss, all the way into the White House. Turns out that — at least at the time — the Big Bad just happened to be — or at least implied to be — Richard ''F***ing'' Nixon. Oh, and then he offed himself. Of course, thanks to the Sliding Timescale, Nixon was likely no longer the Big Bad... but that just raises the question of who now was.
- Principles Zealot: A lighter version, but still very much in effect.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: The most extreme example in Marvel Comics period. Fans and even Writers often lampshade this by saying If Cap agrees with it, it's ok. It even goes as far as condemning torture or mass murder. See also You Remind Me of X below.
If you can't tell the Captain what you're damn well up to, then don't damn well get up to it!
- Psycho Serum: Cap has discovered there have been multiple attempts to recreate his Project Rebirth enhancements and the results have typically produced murderous psychotics, with the most infamous of these being William Burnside, the man better known as the 1950s Commie Smasher Cap.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: After the first appearance, Timely Comics was prompted by MLJ Comics to change Cap's shield from the triangular shape to the discus one. Years later, this change of shields was retconned as being presented as a new weapon to Cap by President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: in-story, Captain America is technically a religious icon for this one tribe of Inuit. Granted, since the story got mainstream coverage in the Marvel U, said tribe have distanced themselves from it, but the story is there...
- Retcon: Old saying...Nobody stays dead in comics except Bucky and Uncle Ben. New saying: Nobody stays dead. Nobody.
- Right Makes Might: Whenever Captain America throws his shield, you can see this written on it in six-inch letters. His Nigh Invulnerable Unobtainium shield is literally reinforced with American Righteous Might - not Self-Righteous Might. America is the Greatest Country in the World - but only when it maintains its idealism.
- Rogues Gallery: Red Skull, Doctor Faustus, Baron Zemo, Madame Hydra, Crossbones, Sin, Serpent Society, Arnim Zola...
- Running Gag: US Agent's names. His real name is John Walker, but after the government fakes his death, they give him a new identity... as Jack Daniels.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Cap has given up his identity numerous times whenever a government's ruling clashed with his own ideals, as well as the American ideal. The incidents involving the Secret Empire and the Commission on Superhuman Activities are two notable examples of this. This trope is also the driving force for Cap rejecting the Superhuman Registration Act, as he leads a contingent of heroes who don't approve of the Act.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Frozen in 1944, woken up... about twelve years before now.
- Second Super-Identity: Captain America went undercover as The Captain on two different occasions. This was because the Government demanded that he work exclusively for them, and when he refused, they forbid him from using the Captain America identity, which they legally owned. They gave the identity to another hero, Super Patriot, who later ended up trading costumes with The Captain and being renamed US Agent.
- His Ultimate Marvel counterpart spent some time as that universe's Black Panther.
- Shadow Archetype: Red Skull.
- Shield Bash: He uses his shield as a melee weapon in addition to throwing it.
- Shout-Out: The story of his resurrection appears to be a Whole Plot Reference to Slaughterhouse-Five.
- Cap's "Stars and Stripes" attack in the Marvel vs. Capcom series is a good old fashioned Shoryuken-style attack, and the Hyper variant tips its hat to Ken's Shoryu Reppa super. His Charging Star special also draws comparisons with M. Bison's Psycho Crusher, especially Hyper Charging Star (ironic considering how Bison's the Big Bad of SF).
- Sidekick Graduations Stick: And has even triumphed over Steve Rogers' return from the dead.
- Skull for a Head: The Red Skull, of course. His daughter too, now that she has become the new Red Skull.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The strongest appeal of the Captain America franchise is its stalwart refusal to stop believing in love, kindness, faith, and fundamental human decency. Which in turn is why so many Captain America fans hate Ultimate Captain America, as Mark Millar designed that alternate version of the character as a parody of jingoistic Bush-era conservatism.
- Sliding Timescale: All superheroes do this, but Cap is one of the few whose origin uses this trope perfectly - he always started out in World War 2, and the only thing that changes is how long he was in the ice.
- Small Steps Hero: Despite being a soldier, Cap will not sacrifice lives. Anyone who dies on his watch does so despite his best efforts.
- Spectral Weapon Copy: He uses a Hard Light version of his shield whenever he can't use it.
- The Spymaster: Steve's stint as Commander of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Sterility Plague: Superia attempts to release a plague that would sterilise the world's female population except for her and her cadre of supervillainesses. As the only fertile women in the world, they would essentially be able to hold the world to ransom.
- The Strategist: There's a reason why any hero worth their weight will defer authority to Cap when the world's about to break.
- Strapped to a Bomb: Captain America and Bucky Barnes were strapped to an experimental plane laden with explosives by Baron Zemo. They managed to untie themselves, but while trying to defuse it Cap fell off and landed in the Arctic Ocean where he was frozen solid. Bucky was presumed blown up for many many years.
- Straw Feminist: The villain Superia.
- Strawman Political: As might be expected of a character intended to embody what is best about a nation. Writers either tend to use him as a mouthpiece for what they personally think America should be (616 Captain America is usually used for this), or as a voodoo doll for everything they see wrong with America (Ultimate universe Captain America is usually used for this). Needless to say that character consistency usually isn't a priority for these writers.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Steve's World War II girlfriend Peggy Carter and his modern girlfriend Sharon Carter; originally (in the 1960s) they were sisters, now they're aunt and niece (expect grandniece in a few years).
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Happens to Sharon Carter in #10 of Rick Remender's run. Later revealed to be a fake out— she's been alive in Dimension Z the entire time, raising Steve's son as her own.
- Superhero Packing Heat: Cap's original incarnation used guns in addition to his nigh-invulnerable shield, in keeping with his status as a Super Soldier fighting Nazis in World War II. It wasn't until The Silver Age of Comic Books that Cap ditched the guns and just stuck to just using his shield. The 2011 movie based on him is set During the War, and looks to be a return to his Golden Age roots (makes sense since it's during the war). Fan reactions are... somewhat mixed. Recently he once again carries a piece (but prefers not to use it). Bucky plays this straight.
- Super Reflexes: Captain America doesn't dodge bullets, he blocks them with his mighty shield. Yet somehow, even when surrounded on all sides by gun-wielding Mooks, the shield always seems to be in the right place. This even applies when he is mindcontrolled chemically, an early story set in World War II had him under the influence of such a chemical by the Red Skull, but when he is taken before Adolf Hitler and the Fuehrer takes a swing at him, Cap reflexively blocks it with his shield, a body function that the Red Skull can't suppress.
- Super Soldier: Solid claim on being the trope namer.
- Take That: In the Ultimates — "Surrender? Surrender??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?" Lampshaded later on by Nick Fury pointing out how hilarious it was, while Hawkeye bemoaned that it was illustrative of how unprofessional the team had become since going public. Cap himself says he isn't entirely sure why he blurted that out.
- And again in Nextwave by Elsa Bloodstone, who is English; for one issue, she wore a European Union t-shirt with the € symbol encircled by stars, and at one point, when described as "my victim" by a villain, (a villain wearing a costume that was apparently stolen from Cap's wardrobe, no less) shouted "Victim? Victim?! Do you think this letter on my chest stands for America?!" (Cue title box: "You have been getting insulted by NEXTWAVE.")
- The regular Marvel Universe Cap even got in on it: while talking about fighting alongside the Maquis Rebellion in WWII, Steve explains how disgusted he is with the way modern Americans belittle the French with claims of cowardice. It's been suggested this was in response to the Ultimate version's statement.
- Take Up My Sword: After Steve's seeming death in 1945, William Naslund and then Jeffrey Mace took his place in order to keep up troop morale; when he seemingly died again in the 21st century, his former sidekick Bucky took up the shield.
- Team-Up Series: The current Captain America and... series, which features a different hero taking second billing in every arc. So far, Bucky Barnes, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow have featured alongside Cap in this series.
- Technical Pacifist: Some writers have gone out of their way to say that Captain America has never taken a life, even during World War II. This would ultimately be debunked by Mark Gruenwald, who had Captain America kill an agent of ULTIMATIUM in order to stop the goon from killing innocent hostages. It has also been stated that he had killed during WW2. That said, Steve prefers not to and would like to avoid it if possible.
- Handled beautifully in the movie: when asked by Dr. Erskine if he wants to enlist to kill Nazis, Steve Rogers answers that he doesn't want to kill anybody... but that he dislikes bullies of all stripes and wants to stand up for the little guy. He's subsequently shown to go in guns blazing in many missions, but hey, he's doing it to save the world, a valid reason if there ever was one.
- Theme Naming: John "Johnny" Walker; after his public assassination, he's brought back as USAgent with the new civilian identity of Jack Daniels.
- Think Nothing of It: In Marvel Adventures, Captain America gets praised at an award ceremony. He does actually say "Aw, shucks" when cheered, and immediately says that the real praise should be for — well, then he's cut off by the inevitable supervillain attack. Cap commonly is portrayed as being a bit embarrassed or taken aback by praise and hero worship, as seen in the Capmania miniarc.
- Throwing Your Shield Always Works: The Cap's Signature Move and also one of the most iconic examples in fiction, making him the trope's patron saint.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Discussed in Civil War. After taking continual beatings from Iron Man's pro-registration forces' underhanded tactics, he finally returns the favor here◊. Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Also, one of the things that differentiated Bucky from Steve when Bucky first took up the mantle of Captain America was that he wasn't afraid to cheat or just shoot a guy (albeit nonlethally) in a fight to make up for his lack of enhanced physical abilities.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Has died a couple times but always gets better.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: He has his moments. Wheter it's justified or completely out of character the fans will never agree on.
- Undying Loyalty: Easily inspires this on all the superhero community, but it's also a defining trait of his. He'll never leave a man behind.
- Unobtainium: Cap's shield is a unique alloy of steel and vibranium, rendering it not only invulnerable to anything less than the Beyonder or the Infinity Gauntlet, but also capable of absorbing impacts up to "pissed-off Hulk" levels and beyond. It's also impossible to reproduce. During his stint as "The Captain", Steve had two replacement shields; a mirror-finish adamantium shield from Tony Stark (which he returned after their falling-out over the Armor Wars), and a black-red-white pure vibranium shield from T'Challa, which went to USAgent after Steve got his job (and old shield) back. Neither had quite the same action as Cap's regular shield. In the late 2010's, his shield gets broken but repaired and upgraded by Odin. So yeah, it currently stands among the pinnacle of technological and magical advances. And it says something that compared to things like the Cosmic Cube, it's a 'simple' shield - something explicitly designed to protect.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: It's heavily implied that Steve's moral fiber was very much inspired by that of his mother, Sarah, whom Steve holds in such a high regard due to her love and care for her son.
- Weak, but Skilled: Steve's power level, which is set at "the peak of human physical potential" pales in comparison to those of many of the enemies he's defeated, yet he manages to beat them through his keen tactical ability and sheer force of will.
- Weapon of Choice: his shield.
- Weird Trade Union: The Serpent Society, a collection of snake-themed villains.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Flag-Smasher. He loathes, almost beyond words, the very idea of national sovereignty, thinking they get in the way of helping people, and thinks the globe should be united in a One World Order. Unfortunately, he uses terror tactics to advance this goal and innocent people often get killed. During their first fight, before he'd done anything too violent, Cap tried to talk him out of this, saying the best way to persuade people to his way of thinking would be to act not as a supervillain, but as a superhero; let people see how his world government ideology inspired him to acts of heroism, just as Cap's own beliefs inspired him. Flag-Smasher didn't listen.
- Also, Brother Nature, who had been a park ranger until his forest was opened up to lumber companies. He tried to fight in court but lost. Then he gained nature-based superpowers, possibly empowered by Gaia's Vengeance, and committed acts of sabotage against the company. Cap was able to talk him out of it, though.
- Wham Line
- Wife-Basher Basher: Being a wholesome 1930's boy next door, Steve Rogers HATES any "man" who dares to strike women with a righteous fury. Its established in Remender's run that Steve's mom was abused by his dad, so its possible that this might motivate that.
- That said, if he's in a fight with a female villain, he knows better than to hold back. He knows a woman can be as deadly as any man, so its more about hitting a woman who isn't capable of fighting back that his problem is.
- In the Ultimates, he wrestles the 10 stories tall Hank Pym into the ground and pounds him into helpless submission for beating his wife The Wasp.
- World's Best Warrior: Has the distinct honor of being considered The Best Warrior in the Omniverse! Captain America is the superhero that all other heroes respect in combat ability, tactics, and leadership.
- Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Cap is just that pure-hearted.
- You Remind Me of X: During Avengers vs. X-Men, Tony pretty much calls Steve out on acting exactly like Tony did during Civil War.