When I first began reading Captain America in high school, writer Mark Gruenwald took some criticism for his insistence that Captain America had NEVER, not even during the Great War, killed anyone.  While it made for a good story, even my fifteen-year-old self chalked it up as something that seemed highly unlikely (and, indeed, an assertion that was counter to the depiction in actual Golden Age comics.)  Interestingly, though, I found myself troubled by the helicarrier sequence in the Avengers movie, when Captain America began firing a fully-automatic weapon at the ship’s saboteurs, clearly ready to kill if necessary.  While I understand the an action movie has to have action (and whether the superheroic ethos of comics is actually part of superhero films is another argument), it seemed a bit out of character to me, which leads us to today’s times-a’changin’ query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) doesn’t think it’s a stretch to say that American soldier Steve Rogers may have killed enemies during wartime, but blasting away at Loki’s henchmen seemed like a different deal to me, asking: Do you prefer your Captain America to be more superhero or more super-soldier?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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7 Comments

  1. Alisha
    March 8, 2015 at 11:54 am — Reply

    I want him to be more Steve Rogers. He needs to have both soldier and superhero tactics and such, but at his core he’s still that little guy who wants to help make the world a better place and just so happened to get the chance to do that. If he’s too much super soldier, he comes off harsh and cold. If he’s too much superhero, he loses that resolve and tactics he has as a soldier. It needs to be a balance, but more than anything he needs to be Steve Rogers trying to protect people and do good.

  2. TheWolverine
    March 8, 2015 at 12:04 pm — Reply

    More superhero. Because it makes him a better ideal to strive for. That even in bad situations he can do his best to maintain control and find other options before turning to last resorts. And to show the other heroes around him that most times the old ways are still the best ways.

    • Nancy
      March 9, 2015 at 9:21 am — Reply

      The whole “captain America doesn’t kill” thing is moronic. He fought in a war and knows sometimes it’s kill or be killed. While he may be an idealist he is not oblivious to reality. The old ways would include killing bad guys

  3. March 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm — Reply

    I prefer my Captain America to be ex soldier, who turned into superhero under different circumstances. I have more issues of Cap NOT firing a weapon in WW2 era, especially if it would be the most effective way to accomplish the mission and save lives of his fellow allies. In war, unfortunately opposing side is your enemy, same morality or laws do not apply as time of peace. Under those circumstances its very hypocrite to put you own morals above safety of your brothers in arms and ultimately, fate of the world. Its not about wanting to kill, but having to do your very best.

    However, in time of peace and under modern mindset, I think he would be very hesitant to use lethal force. Stakes are usually lower, hes mostly fighting either unarmed or inferior opponents and only ones fighting by his side are usually fellow Avengers who can handle themselves. Super Villain or their henchmen is not usually the same thing as armed enemy soldier during war. For example, in that aforementioned hellicarrier scene was one of those situations where thousands of peoples lives depended of him and Iron Man getting the job done as quickly as possible, thats not the time to act high and mighty and refuse to use the most effective method available.

    I also believe that Cap has no illusion of being any more than one man, thus he wouldnt assume some artificial moral rule like Batman, who is deeply traumatized and often thinks himself superior to everyone, or Superman who is so powerful that he can make that choice without having to compromise. Captain America is neither arrogant or almighty, so he cant make that kind of commitment. Safety of the innocent always takes precedence over his own preference. Thats how I see him.

  4. Ram_evilspaceknight
    March 8, 2015 at 4:17 pm — Reply

    I think the above answers are some of the best to a question of the day I have read.
    Thank you.

  5. Luis Dantas
    March 8, 2015 at 6:05 pm — Reply

    Superhero – and yes, he does badly need an actual identity.

  6. Rome
    March 9, 2015 at 9:18 am — Reply

    Hmmm… I too prefer the idealized notion of a Cap who seeks a less-than-lethal approach to stopping the baddies. And the shield, a true symbol and practical item, is largely a defensive implement (though can be used as an offensive or disarming weapon.)

    The “less-than-lethal” Cap is necessary for the shock of seeing Bucky-Cap (Trademark M. Peterson) carry a pistol to have any heft. Bucky was willing and happy to use lethal force (at least that was the initial premise) making the contrast between Steve and Bucky all the more apparent.

    Likewise the recent Axis-influenced “Falcap” (TM Me) was also supposed to be jarring based on his willingness to use force in a way that Steve never would have. So that all said, Cap as Super-Hero seems to have more moral resonance, but he is still a soldier, and in the end a soldier will do what is demanded to get the job done.

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