I’ve been wanting to do a post about Captain America for some time now, and with the breaking news that the Star-Spangled Avenger will be taking over the presidency of the United States, what better time than now?
To backtrack for all you non-comic-readers, this will be taking place within Earth-161, or the Ultimate Universe [the standard canon is Earth-616]. This is also the universe in which Spider-Man is black, so things are very, very different.
Captain America is my one of my favourite heroes. As a Canadian, I love the fact that he exists as a character that exemplifies the ideals of a country but does not in fact represent all of its actions. He’s neck and neck with Superman as being comic books’ most wholesome, and the words “boy scout” are used to describe him more than just a little.
The character, as he exists in the Ultimate Universe, is none of the above. Someone on the Marvel subreddit put up an image a few months ago in honour of the Fourth of July, citing it as their “favorite Captain America line.” Blown up, for your viewing convenience, is that image:
Clicking on the image will bring you to a fuller version in which Cap yells the question “SURRENDER??!!” Compare this to the 616 Captain America who stars in the following panels:
I could leave those two images to sum up the difference between the two heroes, but there’s more. Ultimate Cap has an affair with a married woman. Ultimate Cap is a bully. Ultimate Cap has no qualms whatsoever when it comes to killing his foes, and in fact brutally murders Azerbaijani superhuman the Colonel at the climax of Ultimates 2 Vol. 12.
Abdul Al-Rahman had once been a scrawny teenager enraged at the invasion of Iraq by American super-soldiers, who as the Colonel later led a group known as the Liberators in an invasion of DC. After he has been literally disarmed by a shield thrown by the Hulk he is knocked into the fountain of the World War II memorial and impaled by Captain America with his own weapon.
This man who did that has apparently been inducted as President of the United States.
It’s difficult for me to understand how Marvel got away with publishing Ultimates 2. It’s even harder for me to understand how fans were okay with the Living Legend becoming a xenophobic jingoist, and how some even liked it. At the heart of the character is something that the film made abundantly clear: Captain America is a good man.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing: that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” -Dr. Abraham Erskine
The fact that the image of Ultimate Captain America pointing at his forehead and slamming an entire nation is cited by more than a few as being their favourite Cap moment is, well, disappointing. Especially when panels like the following, from the Marvel Civil War event, exist: