Captain America and Wonder Woman, Anti-Fascist Heroes
Captain America, a fictional superhero created by Marvel Comics, was first introduced in 1941, during the early years of World War II. The character was created as a form of propaganda to boost morale and promote American values and ideals to both the troops and the general public. The character was created during a time when the United States was on the brink of entering World War II and was used as a symbol of American patriotism and nationalism ideals.
Lost over the years is the awareness that Captain America was created to serve as a symbol of hope and strength for the American people during a time of great uncertainty and fear. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, two Jewish-American comic book creators who wanted to create a character that would embody the ideals of the American people during the war, Captain America was first introduced in Captain America Comics #1 in March 1941, just months before the United States officially entered the war. The character was an instant success, with the first issue selling out within days of its release.
Typically, Captain America was depicted as a physically fit, morally upright, muscular, blue-eyed, blond-haired white man who embodied the ideals of American patriotism. He was often shown fighting against the Axis powers, particularly Nazi Germany, and was portrayed as a symbol of freedom and democracy. Plus, he was also depicted as a symbol of the American Dream, as he was a frail man who was transformed into a powerful superhero through the use of a secret serum.
Captain America’s comic books were distributed to American troops overseas, and the character’s image was used in various forms of wartime propaganda, including posters, magazines, and newspapers. The character was also featured in a series of training films produced by the U.S. government to teach soldiers about hand-to-hand combat and other military tactics. The early comics featuring Captain America were filled with patriotic imagery and slogans, such as “The Star-Spangled Avenger” and “The Sentinel of Liberty.” In addition to fighting against the Axis powers, Captain America was also depicted fighting Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. This was a clear reflection of the political climate of the time, as the United States was preparing to enter the war against these countries.
Moreover, the comics featuring Captain America were also used to promote the idea of American exceptionalism to the American people. The comics portrayed the United States as a powerful and just nation that was fighting against tyranny and oppression. The comics also portrayed the American people as a strong and united people who were determined to defend their country against its enemies.
A bonus with Captain America, even more than boosting morale, Captain America was also used to promote certain political ideologies. For example, the character was often depicted as fighting against racism and discrimination, which aligned with the government’s efforts to promote racial equality and civil rights during the war.
After the war, Captain America’s popularity waned, and the character was eventually retired. However, in the 1960s, Captain America was reintroduced as a symbol of the counterculture movement and the growing opposition to the Vietnam War. He was depicted as a more complex and nuanced individual who questioned authority and challenged traditional American values.
Overall, Captain America was used as a tool of propaganda to promote American ideals and values, boost morale, and shape public opinion during World War II. However, the character has also been used in more recent times to comment on and reflect upon the political and social issues of the day.
Image: DAILY, JSTOR. “Captain America and Wonder Woman, Anti-Fascist Heroes.” JSTOR DAILY, 11 Nov. 2020, https://daily.jstor.org/captain-america-and-wonder-woman-anti-fascist-heroes/.