Warning massive spoiler warnings for those who haven’t read Captain America: Steve Rogers No. 1, you have been warned.
So this past week Marvel has revealed something rather shocking that Captain America has been an agent of Hydra for the past 75 years. And browsing through the subsequent news articles I find articles stating that fans are ‘losing their mind’ but I think the media are misjudging the mood. The feeling I am picking up most is not anger, but contempt mixed with a bit of sorrow. People aren’t saying “Oh God, how could you destroy Captain America like this? But rather “Oh God, why are you still doing this gimmicky nonsense?” My feeling regarding Captain America being an agent of Hydra for the past 75 years is pretty much the middle of the road at the moment.
Personally I don’t think it will permanently destroy the Captain America’s fan base but it is kind of tasteless that the writers at Marvel keep laying on the gimmicks when it comes to Steve Rogers in the last few years, which included his death being trapped in an alternate dimension, being an old man and losing his abilities. Which is pretty much standard fair for every Marvel super hero out there. If anything the Captain America and Avengers movies have shown that people live Steve Rogers as a good guy fighting evil, it really isn’t that complicated to write him. I also understand that after 75 years of “continuity” you have to mine every nook you can for story, but this is just plain unimaginative.
And even if you ignore how ridiculous, out of character and gimmicky this is, it still makes no sense. Why would Captain America only choose now to finally drop his cover? If he has really been a Hydra agent the entire time we’ve known him, he’s had a hundred better opportunities to come out as a double agent. If Steve Rogers really is a villain, he’s terrible at it. And it all just makes Captain America’s history more convoluted for the next writer to have to jump through hoops to undo, or reconcile their own story to get around the revelation. Firstly I think the majority of the outrage here comes from the idea that a lot of people view Captain America as representative of American values in a very special way.
Even if modern day Hydra has moved away from Naziism to some extent, and even if it turns out that Captain America’s goal is to make Hydra into a force for good, it still means that while he was serving in World War 2 punching Hitler he was a member of a group that was part of the Nazi party. I don’t think the feeling that this a poor use of his legacy is entirely wrong. Secondly, it not only destroys what fans like so much about Captain America. It ignores what we know about him as a super hero. If you follow Marvel comics, you know there isn’t much you can be sure of or take for granted. But if you follow Captain America, you know that he is one thing you can. It’s a truth. It’s a place you can put your faith in. Without that knowledge, without that certain faith in this part of his character, what is he then to you as a comic book reader?
The broader implication is that Steve Rogers, the symbol of virtue and goodness in the Marvel universe, has never actually been a good guy. In other words, the symbol of goodness is a lie. There is no hope for any of us to be a hero. There is no chance at doing the right thing or getting better. And everyone who has an issue with this knows it’s just Marvel trying to generate some cheap headlines and that it gets all be undone in a year at most. The thing that makes people so contemptuous is how lazy Marvels efforts are to hype this up, and how short-sighted this is. Seriously, do these people not realize how bad it is for the comics industry as a whole that the only time comics make mainstream headlines is when there is something shocking happening?