Edited version of Marvel comic reveals Captain America calling U.S. ‘flawed’
In honor of Marvel Comics’ 80th anniversary, a number of writers and artists were brought together to celebrate with the release of a special issue–Marvel Comic No. 1000. The issue however was met with controversy when the text by Captain America was changed entirely.
The page that was initially written by Mark Waid and drawn by John Cassidy read, “I’m asked how it is possible to love a country that’s deeply flawed. It’s hard sometimes. The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably.”
Evidently, this original version had Captain America taking the opportunity to criticize the United States’ past, while at the same time, acknowledging that the only viable response is a passionate revolution of thought which can force those in power to listen.
“Yes, it’s hard and bloody work. But history has shown us that we can, bit by bit, right that system when enough of us get angry... When enough of us call for revolution and say, ‘Injustice will not stand.’”
Overall, this seemed to be a message that was not terribly divisive and that most Americans could accept as the truth, with the exception of the blindly patriotic who are unable to stomach criticism of any kind aimed at their country.
However, this was changed to a more neutral reflection on the nature of masks and the role of Captain America, not as a man but as an idea.
This neatly allows Captain America to avoid speaking on the evil side of America’s past.
This comes not too long after Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, was asked to remove criticism of President Donald Trump from the foreword of the upcoming book, “Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949,” published by The Folio Society, in which he called Trump an “Orange Skull,” likening the president to Captain America’s Nazi enemy, Red Skull.
Neither instances of politicization should come as a surprise since Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter is close friends with Trump and is noted to have been one of Trump’s largest individual campaign donators, having reportedly donated $360 thousand to his re-election campaign.
Though some may seek to argue the point that comics should not delve too much into the political field, a glance at the history of comics reveals that the very first comics were political cartoons, that were written on the back of a newspaper.
These comics sought to inspire people toward certain movements, whether it be federalism in the early days of the United States or the first labor unions.
Even Benjamin Franklin had a go at comics, creating the famous “Join, or Die” piece of a picture of a snake cut into 13 pieces that each represented an American colony.
The title of Captain America itself merits political involvement. In his debut issue, he’s shown punching Hitler in the face.
After the Nazis were done and over with, writers made him a mouthpiece for McCarthyism, tearing down the supposedly ubiquitous Communist agenda.
Though he may have started as a bland propaganda machine that helped the war effort and the following anti-communist effort, Captain America came to be much more as other issues continued to plague the United States.
During the Nixon administration, Steve Rogers stepped down as Captain America and became Nomad, dissociating himself from the USA due to his disillusionment with how the country was eroding from the inside.
For the first time, this showed that patriotism is not always blindly following your country; sometimes it is having the guts to take a step back and realize that the country can be made much better. The first step along the way to making your country better is to admit that the country is flawed.
This is what Mark Waid was trying to encapsulate in his original writings — something that has been a part of comics from the very beginning.