Superhero Spotlight: Captain America
Last time on this blog, we started a new series all about comic book villains, where they came from, and how to get their looks for Halloween and cosplay – Harley Quinn was the subject of the first post.
Today, we’re turning our attention to the heroes’ side, and we’re going to begin with Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America. Between the Avengers movies and the recently announced Captain America: Civil War, Cap is more popular than ever, so he seemed like the perfect choice for post number one.
Here’s a little bit of background information on Marvel’s most patriotic superhero ever, as well as some quick costume ideas and tips that you can use the next time you dress up.
In This Post:
Captain America Character Bio
Captain America Comics Vol. 1 No. 11, art by Al Avison
Steve Rogers: Comic Book Artist
Debuting in 1941, Captain America was conceived as an ultra-patriotic, superhuman mega-soldier who worked with the United States government to fight the Axis Powers. Before taking on his superhero persona, though, Steve Rogers was just an ordinary guy.
An art student with a passion for comic book illustration (really), Steve enlists in the military but fails the entry tests due to his lack of muscles and surplus of nerdiness. He doesn’t give up, though, and General Chester Phillips selects him for “Project Rebirth” because of his strong will. Rogers is injected with an experimental serum, which transforms him into the ultimate super-soldier, with drastically enhanced strength and intelligence.
Captain America: Comic Book Hero
The project was a success, but the chief scientist in charge of the experiment, Abraham Erskine, is assassinated by a German spy, taking the exact process to the grave. The government’s “Plan A” for Project Rebirth had been to create an entire army of super-soldiers, but without the means to make any more, they decide to turn Steve into a superhero named “Captain America.” Steve is outfitted with all sorts of high-tech gear, including a bullet-deflecting shield. Captain America’s original shield was different from the one most people recognize: it’s not until later that President Franklin Roosevelt himself presents Rogers with the vibranium alloy version.
Captain America’s original steel shield, as seen in Captain America Comics Vol. 1 No. 1, art by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon
There were plenty of other real historical figures that Captain America fought alongside and against, too (after all, the mainstream Marvel Universe, Earth-616, is set in the present day). For example, one of the most oft-repeated pieces of comic book trivia is the subject of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s cover art for Captain America Comics #1, in which Captain America punches Adolf Hitler in the face. If you ask us, that’s one of the most American images ever created, and we’re including Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty in that. Also, you’ll notice the cheerful young sidekick, Bucky, pictured in the corner; that’s the same James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes that would later become known as the Winter Soldier.
After the war ended, the Captain, and most superheroes in general, faded from pop culture. Marvel discontinued the original run of Captain America comic books in 1950. They later teased his possible return in a 1963 issue of Strange Tales, in which Human Torch and Cap team up. However, this turns out to be a ruse by the villain Acrobat, who was merely impersonating Captain America to gain the favor of the public.
The Avengers Vol. 1 No. 4, art by Jack Kirby and George Roussos
Captain America Returns
Rogers would officially make his comeback to comics in 1964. Marvel had just introduced a new series of comics that featured a group of popular superheroes, banded together as one ultimate fighting force: The Avengers. The original Avengers team consisted of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, and The Wasp, and the books proved to be immediately and immensely successful. After the hints dropped by the aforementioned Human Torch arc, Marvel finally decided to give the Captain his grand return.
In Avengers #4, it’s revealed that, at the end of World War II, Captain America was involved in an experimental drone accident, crashing in the North Atlantic. He froze into a solid block of ice, David Blaine-style, and was kept cryogenically preserved for years. After the Avengers discovered him in his frozen state and broke out the hair dryers, Captain America joined the team. Around this time, Captain America also began his relationship with S.H.I.E.LD. and its agents Nick Fury and Sharon Carter.
Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
To date, Captain America has starred in two movies as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his trilogy is set to come to a close in 2016 with Civil War.
The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier
The first Captain America movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, opens with a scene of scientists discovering an abandoned aircraft in the arctic, and a red, white, and blue object – which, although the characters onscreen don’t realize it at the time, is, of course, Cap’s iconic shield. Just as that scene serves as a faithful recreation of Captain America’s 1960s revival, the rest of the movie is a flashback that retells the Captain’s origin story in the World War II era.
The second film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is set in the present, two years after the events of the first Avengers movie. Rogers joins forces with fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D. member Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, on a mission to combat the mysterious titular villain, the Winter Soldier. Many of the plot points in this movie are adapted from and inspired by Captain America comics story arcs from the early and mid-2000s.
Captain America: Civil War
Civil War, as the name suggests, will draw elements and inspiration from the Civil War comic storyline from 2006. In it, the United States government enacts the “Superhero Registration Act,” a law with the aim of regulating the actions of costumed heroes. Captain America leads a faction of heroes that support the SRA, and Iron Man leads an opposing faction that does not.
Similarly, according to early plot previews of the Civil War movie, world governments have enacted more stringent guidelines restricting the Avengers members, after one of the team’s missions results in civilian deaths and damages. This new obstacle causes the Avengers to turn on each other, which is exploited by a new force of evil.
Captain America Costume Ideas
Since Captain America has been around for so long, he’s gone through a lot of costumes changes in his comic book and movie appearances. For example, his original shield wasn’t round. Fortunately, that just means that there are plenty of Captain America costumes to choose from when it’s time to suit up.
For die-hard comic fans interested in his original look, this costume brings the Captain from the comics to life. The old-school winged mask, along with plenty of sculpted foam muscles (since not all of us have access to Super Serum and a Vita-Ray), provide an authentic look. For those who are more into the movies, though, this Captain America costume is taken from The Avengers: Age of Ultron. As of right now, it’s the most updated costume around, complete with stitched and raised details that look extremely authentic. Chris Evans not included.
Women’s Captain America costumes include this sassy skirted version of Rogers’ red, white, and blue, as well as this sleek American Dream bodysuit. The American Dream was a superhero in her own right, debuting in Marvel Comics in the late 1990s. Her civilian identity is Shannon Carter, the niece of Agent Sharon Carter. As a child, she looked up to Captain America and trained throughout her whole life to be as athletic as he was. As an adult, she officially joined the New Avengers and was given Steve Rogers’ original shield to carry into battle, cementing her as one of the strongest female superheroes ever. Fingerless gloves and heeled boots make great accessories to this costume, and American Dream and Captain America make an even better couples costume idea.
Or, if you’re more about casual costuming fun and less about cosplay, then this Captain America T-shirt is perfect for you. Just like the full costume, it’s inspired by Cap’s gear from Age of Ultron, and even though the belts and designs are just printed on, it’s an easy way to get realistic detail without breaking the bank. Plus, you can still wear it with a few Captain America accessories, like his shield and mask, and add in a few of your own items like boots and gloves. Captain America T-shirts based on The Winter Soldier and the classic comic book looks are available, too.
If you’re eagerly awaiting Civil War just as much as we are, then let us know your thoughts on Captain America. Tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter @BuyCostumes, and tell us which superheroes and villains we should talk about next. Find us on Pinterest to discover more great superhero costume ideas, too.