One of the biggest successes of the Golden Age of comics and
one of the most enduring superheroes of all time, Captain America is, more than anything, a symbol of patriotism and fairness, as well as hope for a better world. His debut actually preceded the United States’ entry into World War II, but the character remained popular as a fighting spirit from the time that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor to well into the 21st Century.
Steve Rogers was born in poverty to Irish immigrants in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. After both parents died when he was very young, Steve pursued a career in Fine Arts, specializing in illustration. Alarmed by the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich, the scrawny and frail art student attempted to enlist in the army, only to be rejected as unsuitable for combat. His persistence and resolute spirit, however, did not go unnoticed by General Chester Phillips and the Project: Rebirth program. Rogers was used as a test subject for Dr. Abraham Erskine’s Super-Soldier project, receiving a unique serum, which was stabilized by Vita-Rays. Rogers was transformed into a specimen of human perfection and was endowed with above-average strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence.
The U.S. government implants Rogers on the frontline of World War II as the patriotic superhero, Captain America, as a response to the menace of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and his sinister agent, The Red Skull. Rogers adapts a patriotic uniform and an impervious vibranium shield as Captain America, while posing as an ordinary infantry private, and befriending his camp’s teenage mascot, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. After Bucky learns of Rogers’ dual identity, he offers to train under Rogers and become his partner. Throughout World War II, Cap and Bucky combat the Nazis on their own and as members of the superteam, The Invaders, which consisted of themselves, The Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch, Toro, and several other patriotic superheroes. Together, they battled such villains as The Red Skull, The Wax Man, The Hangman, The Fang, Black Talon, The White Death, Baron Strucker, and Baron Zemo. During an attempt to stop Baron Zemo from destroying an experimental drone plane, Bucky was apparently killed as the bomb exploded in mid-air and Cap was thrown into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic, appearing to be lost forever.
Several decades later, the superhero team The Avengers discovers Rogers’ body in the North Atlantic, his Captain America uniform under his army fatigues and shield clutched firmly in hand. After reviving him, they surmise that Rogers’ body had been perfectly preserved in the ice since 1945, with his superhuman enhancements enabling him to withstand the extreme temperatures. Rogers accepts membership in The Avengers, while learning to adapt to a drastically new time period. Both his formidable combat and leadership experience make him an indispensable asset to the team and he quickly assumes a leadership position, which he has typically retained throughout the team’s existence. Rogers forms many allies through the years. Most notably, the superheroes The Falcon and The Nomad, as well as reuniting with various surviving members of his original wartime allies, The Invaders, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos. Cap is also later reunited with James Buchanan Barnes, long thought dead, but now under a different identity as The Winter Soldier. For a time, Barnes even took on the mantle of Captain America himself, while Rogers appeared to have died at the hands of ally and romantic interest, Sharon Carter, who was under hypnotic control by longtime enemy, The Red Skull. It was later revealed that Rogers did not, in fact, perish. Instead, he was phasing in and out of time, with Red Skull in control of his mind and body. Rogers eventually was able to regain control, with the help of his allies, and was able to return to the present time, once again assuming the identity of Captain America. Most recently, he has spearheaded the formation of a team consisting of both Avengers and X-Men members and continues to inspire and lead his teammates of the Marvel Universe as the everlasting symbol of strength and patriotism: Captain America.