The Star-Spangled Avenger! The Sentinel of Liberty! The First Avenger! Truth, Justice & The American Way…in human form! That’s right, we’re talking about our favorite Nazi punching, flag waving, no-cursing hero, Captain America!
This is a list very near and dear to my heart. Captain America has always been one of my favorite superheroes of all time, tied at the top of the list with a certain Cajun thief (hint: Rhymes with Shambit). This list wasn’t difficult to compile, but was tough to put an order to them, as so many of these iterations hold a special place in my heart. Let’s just jump to it, shall we?
**POSSIBLE SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW FOR DAMN NEAR EVERY STORY LINE CAPTAIN AMERICA HAS BEEN A PART OF IN 75 YEARS**
Top 10 Versions of Captain America
10. Current HYDRA Steve Rogers
Now there are more ins and outs to this than I have the time to get into, but Cap has essentially been a HYDRA double agent for 75+ years. That is some rock solid espionage skills right there…and some world class dedication. Also, his new costume is legit. And I like the throwback shield. Being a HYDRA agent is a dick move on his part, but everything else about him is prettyyyyy awesome.
9. Danielle Cage
Current leader of the U.S. Avengers, Danielle Cage, daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, is from a future New York City in which she carries the shield as Captain America. Did I mention she’s the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones? And she possesses their powers? And is named after her father’s BFFL Danny Rand, the Iron Fist? That’s one hell of a future Captain America.
8. Isaiah Bradley
Hailed in continuity as the “Black Captain America,” Isaiah Bradley was the only surviving test subject of Project: Rebirth, an experiment to recreate the serum that gave Steve Rogers his super powers. It was revealed later in continuity that he was just one of the many members of the “Weapons Plus” experiments, the same one that gave us Wolverine, Deadpool, Sabretooth and X-23. Betrayed by his own country (numerous times), Bradley is imprisoned, but eventually pardoned by President Eisenhower. He becomes a legend in the black community, revered by heroes such as Black Panther, Luke Cage & Storm.
NOTE: Read the “Red, White & Black” storyline in which Bradley is introduced. You won’t be disappointed.
7. Silver Age
While often consisting of some horribly asinine stories for ol’ winghead, the Silver Age of Comics is to thank for the current origins and history of Steve Rogers (not the current current one, but ya know, the other current one… so the MCU and comics until the last year or so). Frozen in ice and assumed dead during WWII, he is found and…thawed out?… and brought into the Avengers fold, the group he would later become the leader of for years on years. Also, it brought about his modern look and circular shield, a staple to the Captain America most know and recognize. Oh! I almost forgot. Rogers traded in his
creepy partnership with Bucky Barnes for a crime fighting team up with the next guy on this list…
6. Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson, until recently, was known under 1 alias: The Falcon. Together with Steve Rogers, they were a crime fighting duo few could match. A few years ago, when Rogers’ super-soldier serum was fading from his body causing the original Cap to age rapidly, he needed someone to carry on the legacy of Captain America, choosing Sam Wilson, his partner, on and off, for the better part of 4 decades. What we got was a bad ass, half Cap/half Falcon hybrid that brought us one of the greatest superhero duds in history. In his continuing short tenure as the Sentinel of Liberty, Wilson has led the Avengers and solidified his spot as a fan favorite (despite writing for his series being, at times, questionable). Wilson is in a tough spot at the moment, with public opinion turning against him thanks to D-bag Cap (see: #10), but something tells me he’s going to play a major role in the turn against Captain Hydra in Marvel’s Secret Empire starting in May.
5. James Buchanan (Bucky) Barnes
James Barnes, aka Bucky, started off as one of the most ludicrous Marvel creations, a teen sidekick to Captain America, not unlike Robin to Batman. With a costume just as laughable. Long thought killed in action during WWII in the same incident that relegated Steve Rogers to a human popsicle for decades, Barnes was then resurrected in 2005 as the Russian trained assassin, the Winter Soldier, doing the character equivalent of a 180. He goes from villain to anti-hero, and after the events of the original Civil War story line in which Steve Rogers is assassinated (sort of…I…you see…just go read the comics, okay?) Bucky takes up the mantle of his best friend for a time, with a costume not quite as cool as Steve Rogers’ and DEFINITELY not as cool as the Winter Soldier get up. His time as Cap was short lived, as Steve Rogers eventually comes back to wear the red, white and blue (like I said, go read Civil War, The Death of Captain America & Captain America Reborn. It’s weird, but worth it) but took place during a pivotal time for the Star Spangled Avenger.
4. OG Cap (Golden Age)
He f—ing punched Hitler in the face. Good enough to be Top 5? Cool, I thought so, too.
The Ultimate Universe and continuity is loved by some and reviled by others, essentially making it the comic book version of Avatar (I don’t get it. I really don’t get it). The new universe gave fan favorites slightly tweaked origin stories, as well as new uniforms and adventures to partake in. Steve Rogers in the Ultimate Universe is approximately just an @$$hole version of the Steve Rogers in the Marvel-616 continuity (geek talk for the standard continuity…or at least up until this most recent Secret Wars event that basically combined all the best characters from the different universes, because comics). Let’s put it like this: the dude beat the holy hell out of a Hank Pym that had been abusing his wife Janet, and at one point, when he couldn’t defeat his arch-nemesis Heir Kleisser, an alien Nazi commander (what did I just write?) he told the Hulk that Kleisser was flirting with his lady, which caused the Hulk to go straight Hannibal Lecter and eat the villain. Yeah, I can get down with this Cap.
2. MCU Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)
Who in their right mind thought that you could take one of the very few (see: 2) good things about the Fantastic Four movies and turn him into a pitch perfect screen translation of the First Avenger. Chris Evans was an inspired casting choice on the part of Marvel Studios, leading to a character that has anchored 2 of the studios most critically acclaimed hits in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my personal favorite MCU film) and Captain America: Civil War. Evans plays the character with optimism and honor, only objecting to his duties as a soldier when he is conflicted on a moral level. And his jaw line is perfect, too.
1. Modern Age
In a span of just a few years, Steve Rogers, along with others, opposed the Superhero Registration Act, causing one of the most monumental story lines in comic book history to occur in Civil War. He was then pseudo-assassinated, brought the entire Marvel universe to its knees with his death, only to be brought back a little over a year later and lead a black-ops team of Superheroes called the Secret Avengers (in what is no doubt, one of the best Cap costumes in history). Once “officially” reclaiming the title of Captain America, he leads the Avengers against fellow mutant superheroes in another impressively memorable event, Avengers vs. X-Men, eventually defeating Cyclops, who had been taken over by the Phoenix Force (yes, THAT Phoenix Force). As I said, in the span of just a few short years, Marvel created a thread of story lines that will go down in history as monumental and impressive works of storytelling, and Captain America Steve Rogers was at the forefront of them all. It’s no “punching Hitler in the face,” but I’d say that’s pretty good, right?
Hey guys, thanks for reading, and let me know how you would rank Captain America in the comments below! Which Cap is your fav?
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time husband, full time father & full time superhero enthusiast. His wife is also planning a Captain America birthday party for their son’s first birthday…and that is why they are married.
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