It was 70 years ago 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.
There’s plenty that’s pure about Captain America, but don’t think for a minute that makes him a Pollyana, says Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel television and writer of many landmark comic-book arcs, including ”Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America.”
“Cap is a born leader and someone who always dreamed of being a hero,” Loeb said. “He’s an inspiration to the Marvel Universe — a standard by which every hero should try and reach. By the same token he’s not as apple pie as Superman — he’s been a soldier in wartime — he can be as bad-ass as Wolverine.”
The horrors of the battlefield will be a key part of the upcoming “Captain America” film and director Joe Johnston has made a point to say that the character won’t be a flag-waver, suggesting that Steve Rogers and his love of country will have some complicated layers to it. Loeb points out that in many of the character’s on-the-page incarnations he represents ideals more than patriotic mottos.
“The patriotism is not as key to his character as the heroic aspects,” Loeb said. “Steve Rogers believes in the best of humanity — regardless of race, background or religion. He’s about freedom — these all happen to be aspects of being an American, but his beliefs are universal.”
After all these years and a massive mountain of comic books representing different versions and visions of the hero, which resonate the most with Loeb? “I’ll always go to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s interpretation first. But there was nothing cooler than in ‘Avengers’ No. 4 when he woke up in a block of ice! I hope we get to see that on film!”
– Geoff Boucher
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