|For other uses, see Captain America (disambiguation)|
Captain America is a fictional character designed to take advantage of Steve Rogers' heroic persecution of Heinz Kruger through the streets of New York City. The character was a propaganda tool in the United States of America, starring in comic books and war films. When Rogers publicly used the name during his first military action, the adventures of Captain America slowly turned into the fictionalized accounts of Rogers' service on the battlefields of Europe. After the war, the character remained very popular, becoming the main hero of a radio show.
In June 1943, Heinz Kruger assassinated Abraham Erskine during the process of transformation of Steve Rogers into the first super soldier. Empowered by the Super Soldier Serum, Rogers chased Kruger through the streets of New York City, capturing him, though he committed suicide with the cyanide pill. The only remaining sample of the Super Soldier Serum was lost, and Chester Phillips decided that Rogers wasn't enough to help the Allies win World War II.
However, some journalists were able to take photos of Rogers' heroic act, and the newspaper report about the mysterious hero caused the renewed interest among the Americans in fighting the Axis. The recruitment offices were overcrowded with volunteers for the United States Armed Forces, and Brandt realized that Rogers could become a symbol for the American spirit during the war. Creating the colorful costume of a masked hero for Rogers to wear, Brandt gave him the opportunity to serve his country by doing fund-raising shows for the war effort. Thus Captain America was born.
Capitalizing upon Rogers' heroic act, the United States Government started publishing comic books about the war actions of Captain America. The cover of the first issue showed Captain America punching the infamous Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler, and it was quickly sold in thousands of copies. Dressed in a costume with an American flag motif, and armed with the similarly painted heater-shaped shield, Captain America quickly became the favorite hero of even the youngest Americans.
Another media that covered the adventures of Captain America were movies. Played by Steve Rogers, Captain America would lead the United States Army through the battlefields of North Africa and Europe, fighting against the hordes of villainous Nazis. The movies also proved to be very popular, and some copies even ended up in the Axis controlled territories in Europe, where they were watched by Johann Schmidt.
- "I don't know if I can do this."
"Nothing to it. Sell off a few bonds, bonds buy bullets, bullets kills Nazis. Bing bang boom. You're an American hero."
"It's just not how I pictured getting there."
"The senator's got a lot of pull up on the hill. You play ball with us, you'll be leading your own platoon in no time. Take the shield."
- ―Steve Rogers and Brandt[src]
Captain America gained nationwide popularity with the live-entertainment performances organized by the United Service Organizations. Once again played by Steve Rogers, Captain America would give a speech about the role of the common citizen during the war, the Star Spangled Singers would dance around him, and when Hitler would try to sneak and shoot Cap from behind, the hero would knock him down with a single punch. The show would end with Cap lifting a motorcycle ridden by showgirls.
The purpose of the show was to urge people to buy war stamps and bonds to finance the American war effort. Even the stamps were decorated with Captain America urging the Americans to "wake up" and "drive the Axis to decay by buying war stamps every day". Every bought stamp meant one more bullet in the guns of the American soldiers on the battlefields.
In November 1943, the show before the active servicemen stationed in Italy ended badly when the soldiers began to mock Rogers' colorful costume. After he found out about the disappearance of his friend James Barnes during the Battle of Azzano, Rogers organized a one-man rescue operation, during which he introduced himself as Captain America to the Allied soldiers he liberated from the HYDRA facility in Austria. After the operation, Rogers' superior officer Colonel Chester Phillips finally realized Rogers' military potential and transferred him to the combat unit. Since no one was able to replace Rogers in the role of Captain America, all the tours were canceled.
Despite the disappearance of Steve Rogers in 1945, Captain America remained a popular character. A year after the war, The Captain America Adventure Program was still broadcasted from the American radio stations, fictionalizing Rogers' war actions. In one particular episode, Cap had to save his girlfriend Betty Carver, the fictional version of Rogers' love interest Peggy Carter, who was captured by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during the battle in the Ardennes. Though the show was very popular, Peggy Carter hated it because of its many historical inaccuracies, including her character's role as the typical "damsel in distress".
One of the biggest differences between the fictional Captain America and the real one is that the fictional was lost over the sea of Japan. That episode of the radio show aired on May 8, 1946, the first anniversary of V-E Day.
Trading cards were also made to popularize Captain America. Though the first cards showed Captain America in his original costume standing over the unconscious Hitler or even fighting a sea monster, later cards showed Steve Rogers dressed in his first combat uniform or the final costume designed by Rogers himself. S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, as a great fan of Captain America, was able to collect the entire vintage set. When Steve Rogers was found and defrosted in the 21st century, Coulson asked him to sign the cards. Unfortunately for Coulson, he was killed by Loki before Rogers could fulfill Coulson's request.