The First Avenger. The Star-Spangled Man with a Plan. The Marvel Universe's Big Good.The Captain Patriotic Superhero.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 to create a Super Soldier for the war effort. Injected with Super Serum, bombarded with radiation, appropriately trained and given a signature shield, Cap fought the Axis, memorably punching◊ Adolf Hitler in the face on the cover of his first comic. An Axis spy killed the project's director, who had it all in his head, shortly after Cap's creation. 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). This revival flopped. 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. His greatest failure was 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 and Watergate, 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 a Darker and Edgier 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. In 2007, he even took up armed resistance to the American crackdown on the superhero community in the Civil War, until he gave 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.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.
Adaptations to other media
Captain America also provides examples of: