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"Captain Cold... Captain Boomerang... they probably would have gone for it if I was a captain."
There is a definite prejudice in Superhero
comics towards using force rather than reason to sort things out. As a result, a fighting man with a military-sounding background gets more respect than a thinking man with a doctorate or a medical qualification
. This is probably an inheritance from the early days of comics, where the patriotic World War II
setting made military good guys obvious. The rank of "Captain" probably became common as, in the Army, it is low-ranking enough to be approachable and avoid the inevitable moral ambiguity
of the most senior ranks, but high enough to deserve some respect.
The upshot of this is that characters whose names begin with "Captain"
are almost always good, unless explicitly subverting this or a Nazi. (In the case of a Nazi, or in the case of German officers from other periods, the correct title Hauptmann
could occur. If the Nazi Captain is referred to as Kapitän we might have a research mistake, since Kapitän exclusively refers to the marine. Another trap for the unwary is referring to an SS officer of this rank as Hauptmann
when he would in fact be a Hauptsturmführer
" carries similar connotations to "Captain." As a naval rank, it's a likely designation for commanding officers in Space Navies
Not necessarily The Captain
; in fact, The Good Captain is rarely seen leading anyone, despite his rank.
Anime and Manga
- Busou Renkin: Captain Bravo— Good.
- The Captain from Hellsing, sometimes called Hans Günsche a la his prototype version: Evil because he's a Nazi, but shows occasional "good"ness, or at least helpfulness to the goodies.
- On the other hand, Captain Pip Bernadette/Bernadotte/Vernedead stays on the good side to the end... And even after that.
- From One Piece, Captain Luffy: Good. Then again, then there are the other pirate captains in this series which can be good or bad...but usually bad.
- Eustace "Captain" Kidd: Based on his record, bad, including going so far as to crucify opponents who were trying to run away and killing civilians.
- Also various Marine captains, who can also be good or bad depending on the person (but they would all tell you they're good).
- Gurren Lagann: Captain Viral — Became captain of the Chouginga Dai Gurren after his Heel Face Turn.
- Captain Nanoha Takamachi - Good. Likes to befriend people.
- In Gundam, Captain Bright Noah of the White Base, Argama, Nahel Argama, and Ra Calium: Good, Team Dad, nicknamed "The Eternal Captain" (obviously for a good reason).
- Captain Justi Ueki Tylor: Good for the most part. Now, whether this is through sheer dumb luck or the most brilliant tactical mind or some combination of the two is up to debate.
- Captain America: Good. Was briefly "Nomad" and later "The Captain" before Nextwave's version, but went back to America. Still good.
- Captain Atom: Good, but occasionally falls into Knight Templar; led to the accidental destruction of Kansas in Kingdom Come. Note that he originally actually had the rank of Captain in the Air Force, but was later promoted to Major.
- Captain Britain: Good.
- Captain Canuck: Satirical but good.
- Captain Cold: Enemy of The Flash, Evil.
- Captain Boomerang: Enemy of The Flash, Evil.
- The above two led to a Lampshade Hanging in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance," where they teamed up, and the Trickster laments that they never bought into his ideas, saying, "Maybe if I were a captain they'd listen to me."
- Captain Comet: Good.
- Captain Dynamo: Good.
- Kapitan Krieg (Jack Staff): A Third Reich Super Soldier, but more of a German patriot than a Nazi and hence a Noble Demon / Worthy Opponent.
- Captain Liberty (New England Comics): Employed as a hero by the US government. Purposely given a name that would make people assume she's a man.
- Captain Marvel (The DCU): Good.
- Captain Mar-vell (Marvel Universe, more than one incarnation): Good, although the Genis-Vell incarnation was a Knight Templar and completely off his rocker.
- Captain Metropolis (Watchmen): Good... but bigoted.
- Captain Nazi: A hero of his nation, but as his nation was Nazi Germany, evil.
- The Captain of Nextwave: Grand mockery of this trope.
- HIS NAME IS THE CAPTAIN!!!
- Captain Rectitude was not actually a made-up example. Bad. Also badly dressed.
- Capitan Rivet: Good, and one of the few Superhomies who at least tries to avoid openly laughing at Empowered.
- Hauptmann Deutschland, Marvel Comics' German equivalent to Captain America. Good. Despite this name directly translating to "Captain Germany," when issues featuring him were licensed and translated in Germany, they changed his name to Freiheitskämpfer ("freedom fighter") to avoid any implications of Naziism. Later on he was renamed Vormund ("legal guardian") in America.
- Captain Chaos: Good but goofy in The Cannonball Run; evil but goofy in the Scottish Amicable adverts.
- Mystery Men's Captain Amazing: Strictly commercial. Vanquishes baddies, but also occasionally gets them released from prison for selfish, publicity-seeking reasons.
- In Pirates Of The Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow: Good (?), though often drunk/crazy. Or is he? Occasionally sells out his friends as part of a Batman Gambit. It's okay, they frequently return the favor, and unlike them, Jack usually has a Plan B to get them out of it...
- Captain Zoom - Initially reluctant, but heroic in the end.
- In Godzilla Final Wars, Captain Gordon: Good, and a incredibly huge badass. The man defeated Godzilla by burying him in ice, successfully lead a resistance against the massively powerful alien force with just his crew and Godzilla and killed aliens with a katana and his bare hands, and even at the end of the movie when Godzilla brought down he still is prepared to fight him with just a sword.
- Star Wars's Captain Han Solo: Good.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Commander Lyle Rourke is a subversion of this, and a good one too. There are a couple hints in his dialogue that he's not what he seems, but overall he does a good job faking the audience out and setting up the reveal.
- In M*A*S*H, Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, "Duke" Forrest, and "Trapper" John Mc Intyre are all Captains. They're not quite as good as their television counterparts, but they're much better than their counterparts in the novel.
- Captain Invincible: Disillusioned, out of practice, alcoholic...unambiguously good once he gets out of his funk.
- Hornets Nest: Has the morally gray, mustached American Army Captain Turner, and the refined, no-nonsense but not entirely unreasonable Captain Friedrich von Hecht, as well as Captain Kreuger.
- Captain Commando: Good. Equal opportunity employer, as evidenced by partners being ninja, mummy and infant.
- F-Zero's Captain Falcon: Good. Will Knee you in the face if you say anything about his outfit.
- Disgaea's Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth!: Good, but kinda dumb...and hammy.
- Advance Wars's Captain Brenner/O'Brian: The Messiah. In an After the End setting. Good.
- Pikmin's Captain Olimar: Good, teamed up with Captain Falcon in the Subspace Emissary.
- Captain Novolin - Real, Good, but bad concept...
- Valkyria Chronicles's Captain Eleanor Varrot - Good. Boss of the young leader of The Squad.
- City of Villains's Cap'n Mako - Ax Crazy.
- Call of Duty's Captain Price: Good, if a bit too eager to resort to brutality in his CoD4 incarnation.
- SAS. They are brutal. But patriotic and rather too good at lateral thinking for regular squaddies.
- Captain "Soap" MacTavish: Good, and he's taken more than a few levels in badass since the last time we saw him.
- Dawn of War: Captains Gabriel Angelos, Davian Thule and Inrick Boreale - Good, for Imperium commanders, although the last one is an exemplar of The Peter Principle.
- Ratchet & Clank's Captain Qwark - Initially a Villain with Good Publicity and Fake Ultimate Hero, though eventually becomes more a Lovable Coward and Antihero with a small bit of The Atoner.
- Mass Effect's Captain David Anderson: Good. Mentor to Cmdr. Shepard, who is varying degrees of good.
- Captain Comic: Good.
- Viewtiful Joe's Captain Blue! Henshin a go-go, baby! Evil.
- Comic Jumper's Captain Smiley: Self-absorbed idiotic Jerkass.
- Ace Combat 5's Captain Bartlett, "The Captain", Captain Nagase, Captain Davenport (post-humously promoted to Lieutenant Colonel), Captain Grimm, and Captain Snow. All good.
- Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog's Captain Hammer: Subverts and Lampshades this trope. Despite being a superhero and beloved by the whole city, he's also a tremendous jerk and far less sympathetic than villainous Dr. Horrible.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Capitao Batalha ("Captain Battle") is the premiere hero of Brazil. There's also Captain Australia, Captain Speedy, Captain California, and Captain Hammer. In the 50s and 60s, there was Captain Amazing, but he's dead now.
- Red vs. Blue's Captain Butch Flowers: Good, and disturbingly nice towards his men.
- Whateley Universe's The other Captain Bravo: good. Well, he thinks he's good, but he's a pinhead. And he's not allowed to use the 'captain' part of his codename until he graduates from Whateley Academy and earns the title in the military. Titles from the military, nobility are academic titles must be earned the hard way before they can be used in a codename.