Captain America (comics)

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Those who oppose his shield must yield.

The Star-Spangled Avenger. The First Avenger. The Star-Spangled Man with a Plan. The Marvel Universe's Big Good.

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.

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 Cap 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.

Captain America threw his mighty shield until 2007, with Civil War. 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.

Until he, you guessed it, dies again. This time the title is given to Samuel Wilson, formerly known as The Falcon. Unlike Bucky's successful succession, Captain Falcon takes to the title poorly due to his run being an anti-American Author Tract. He uses the title to deliver a vigilante beat down on vigilante watchmen for the "crime" of being vigilantes (which he ignores when pointed out) to assist criminals in getting away with their actions, orders birds to shit on arrested suspects who are no longer resisting with no regard to those who have to transport these criminals (because these "criminals" were people the author didn't like), lose to The Leaper as he spews anti-American rhetoric without response.

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[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Captain America (1944) a movie serial which incorporated practically nothing of the character except the basic costume.
  • The Marvel Superheroes (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 one video game on his own: Captain America in: The Doom Tube of Dr. Megalomann (1987) on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, 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 and the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games.
  • Captain America (1990 film) This movie was originally going to play in theaters, but it went direct to video instead.
  • A clearly Ultimate-inspired Cap appeared in the Ultimate Avengers animated films (2006) [1].
  • There have also been a couple of Captain America novels.
  • The animated series Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes (2010) includes Captain America as one of the major characters. In a manner paralleling The Silver Age of Comic Books Avengers comics, he became the sixth superhero to join the team.
  • A film - titled Captain America the First Avenger - was released in July 2011; it takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe being laid out by Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. 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 The Avengers movie (released in summer 2012).

Should not be confused with American Marine veteran (and supposed Shell-Shocked Veteran) David McGraw who was immortalized by Generation Kill and known to his men and, in the book, only referred to as Captain America.


Tropes used in Captain America (comics) include:
  • 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 (freedom fighter and presumptive love interest). Depending on her relation to Sharon Carter and how closely they follow the comics, this could make things awkward for Steve.
  • All-American Face: Oh yeah.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Continuity: Ultimate Universe 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 behaviour. 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: Of COURSE he does!!!
  • 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: Cap's shield, Depending on the Writer or continuity.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Not for nothing is Cap considered the leader of the Marvel Superhero community. When he speaks, Gods listen.
  • 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.
  • Badass Abnormal: 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.
  • Badass Normal: Some people claim it but it's not true, there's a reason his serum was so sought after. Supposedly his Super Serum doesn't push any of his abilities to a "superhuman" level, but he's still able to do many things no athlete is able to get away with at the same time. He does hold his own with people who have more impressive superpowers though.
    • Some of his villains fall under this as well. Like Batroc the Leaper.
    • Intercompany crossovers with DC Comics 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.
  • Battle Couple: Steve and Sharon, Steve and Rachel/Diamondback, Bucky and Black Widow.
  • Battle Cry: Avengers Assemble! Technically it's for anyone on the Avengers, but Cap's usually saying it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.[2]
  • Break the Cutie: John "USAgent" Walker's entire tenure as Captain America was one of these.
  • Canon Discontinuity: John Rey Nieber's run 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?
  • The Cape (trope): He's like Superman without super-powers. How balls-out crazy-brave is that?
  • Captain Geographic
  • Captain Patriotic: Probably not the Ur Example though.
  • Captain Superhero
  • Charlie Brown From Outta Town: His stints as Nomad and as The Captain.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything
  • Close on Title: The comic detailing Captain America's death, "The Death of the Dream", saved its title for the closing.
  • Clothes Make the Legend
  • 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 late 1990s.
    • There's an upcoming mini (a tie-in with the First Avenger movie) that will state he woke up even more recently.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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?
  • Did Not Do the Research: Robert Morales decided to do a - pretty good, actually - issue devoted to Bucky Barnes. and the fact he was an underage soldier. What he forgot to do was find out Bucky's actual name. Apparently Morales was under the impression that James Buchanan Barnes was named Michael.
  • 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.
    • Screw the cosmic cube, he took on Thanos while he was holding the fully powered Infinity Gauntlet, a glove that literally made Thanos the supreme being in the Marvel Universe.
    • In a telling quote from the Nineties, when Cap was missing and feared dead, Hercules summed it up:

"On Olympus we measure speed by Mercury, power by Zeus, and strength by Hercules... but we measure courage by Captain America."

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Folk Hero
  • Freudian Trio: The Invaders core group: Namor the Sub-Mariner (Id), Human Torch (Ego), Captain America (Superego).
  • Friendly Enemies: 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.
    • Averted with Falcon as Captain America. When Batroc meets Captain Falcon he gives him a one-sided beatdown while mocking him with American stereotypes (asking if his power is super obesity) and statistics that have long been proven false while giving him a one-sided beatdown. Clearly he expected someone worthy of Captain America to know how to retort all of it like Rogers could right? Nope! it's just an Author Tract.
  • 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 Got Worse. He went from petty hooligan to being listed by SHIELD 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 out do 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • He's Back: The appropriately-titled Captain America: Reborn, dealing with Steve's return to the land of the living.
  • 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 rein of power.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Le Parkour: Pretty much Batroc the Leaper's shtick. 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.
  • Legacy Character: Steve's Captain America mantle has inspired both several direct successors (Isaiah Bradley, William Naslund, Jeffrey Mace, John Walker, Bucky Barnes) and other flag-themed heroes.
    • He's also got a few Legacy Villains, such as the 12th and 13th Barons Zemo. Sin has also taken her father's mantle.
  • 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.)
  • Mad Love: Red Skull and Mother Night. God only knows what she saw in him.
  • 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).
  • The Messiah: His eventual return after his second death becomes the turning point in Dark Reign, as he becomes the point the heroes rally behind to defeat Norman Osborn.
  • 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, even before the events of Civil War.
    • 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 afterwords.
    • 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...
  • 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.
    • The 1950's version of Captain America also hunted former Nazis.
  • 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 the current 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 was 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 US Agent.
  • The Paragon: Well, duh. 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.
  • Phlebotinum: 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.
  • Pinball Projectile: Cap's shield. Oooh boy, Cap's shield.
  • 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 Trope 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Again, Cap's shield.
  • Principles Zealot: A lighter version, but still very much in effect.
  • 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.
  • Right Makes Might: Whenever Captain America (comics) 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...
  • 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.
  • Shadow Archetype: Red Skull.
  • Shield-Bash
  • 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 (comics) 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 Amerca, as Mark Millar designed that alternate version of the character as a parody of jingoistic Bush-era conservatism.
  • The Spymaster: Steve's recent 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.
  • Straw Feminist: The villain Superia.
  • 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).
  • Super Reflexes
  • Super Soldier: Solid claim on being the trope namer.
  • 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.
  • 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?!"
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: Cap famously abandoned his identity in the 1970s after finding out the identity of the Secret Empire's leader[3] 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-sanction operative, soon resolving to continue superheroics as "The Captain".
  • 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
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth
  • 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.
  • Ubermensch
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • One of the Flag-Smasher's female operatives once sneered, "You would not hit a lady!" She was about to shoot him. Cap said, "Lady -- you're no lady!" and knocked her cold.
    • 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.
    • Not just beating her - he had a bunch of ants maul her in shrunken form, nearly eating her alive. Hank had the beating coming.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy

Notes

  1. Well, sort of. While Cap does wear costumes that are directly lifted from The Ultimates, his personality seems to be more in line with his Earth 616 counterpart, so he's a Composite Character, if anything.
  2. Luckily, Daredevil saved the day and helped Cap return back to his star-spangled self.
  3. Which was heavily implied to be the President of the United States.