CAPTAIN AMERICA: A 70-YEAR SALUTE
It was 70 years ago this month that Captain America, the greatest of all the patriotic-themed superheroes, first hit newsstands with a red, white and blue shield gripped in his gloved hand. He also gets his own feature film this summer, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and to mark the moment we’ll be talking to writers, artists, actors, directors and musicians about the star-spangled icon’s legacy and future. Today: Ralph Macchio
Captain America has carried his shield through space, time and magical dimensions and he has fought against (and beside) gods, monsters and aliens, but for Ralph Macchio, senior editor at Marvel, there’s no place where the character thrives the way he does as in the battlefield settings of World War II.
“The version of Captain America which resonates most with me is the World War II version. Although Cap has been brilliantly integrated into contemporary society since his return in the early ’60s, to me, he will always be a creature of World War II. He was created to battle the Nazis and take down Hitler, and it’s in that setting that he is most alive and vital to me.”
Macchio, whose career at Marvel dates back to the 1970s, said the distilled drama of a world at war and the black-and-white conflict of the Allied Forces vs. the Axis Powers created a context that made this particular character both inspirational and dynamic.
“It’s tough to beat the purity of him representing all the great American ideals of freedom and justice in opposition to the tyranny of the Nazis,” Macchio said. “And if any figure embodies the horror of the Nazis, with the possible exception of Hitler himself, it’s the Red Skull. And when you have Cap battling it out with the Red Skull in the days of World War II, it’s the ultimate clash of ideologies. There’s nowhere else but in that war-time period that Cap is able to be a symbol at the height of his power.”
– Geoff Boucher
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