Captain America has been in troubled waters at Marvel for a long time. Nick Spencer turned the All-American hero into a metaphorical Nazi when he unveiled that Captain America had been working for Hydra the entire time. The reveal sparked outrage with many fans rallying behind #SayNoToHydraCap on Twitter. Christina Dietz at Movie Pilot summed up the issue with Hydra Cap pretty well, “If Captain America has been evil this whole time, then he’s never been fighting the good fight, and maybe there never was a good fight to begin with. ”
Marvel seems to have seen the error in their ways. They put Mark Waid as the writer on Captain America. In an interview with CBR, Waid declared, “Our fans have made it clear that what they want is Classic Steve Rogers back.” However, Waid didn’t elaborate on what that meant. In fact, it seems like Classic Steve Rogers might be a mystery, “That means drilling down and figuring out what Captain America means late in the second decade of the 2000s.”
What does that mean? Why would Classic Captain America mean something different in the second decade of 2000s than what he did in the past? Isn’t that the point of Classic Steve Rogers? You already know what he stands for and what Captain America means. Let’s go back to Christina Dietz at Movie Pilot who sums up Captain America nicely, “He was more than just a man in a red, white and blue suit. He stood for freedom, and hope in dark times. The shield and the costume represented the ideals that America stood for back then.” She continues, “Throughout his history, he stands up for what he believes in, and usually he believes in doing the right thing no matter what the cost.” It seems pretty black and white to me. I don’t know why you would have to drill down to figure out what Captain America means.
One of the ways Waid looks to drill down and figure out what Captain America means will be a road trip through the American heartland. “He’s on two missions: One, to get back to the American heartland, and two… well, we can’t talk about that one yet.” Waid adds Steve Rogers’ mindset is, “‘I claim to represent all America, but I spent 95% of my time in New York. Maybe we can fix that.”
Well, at least that sounds like a good idea. Maybe Captain America and Marvel will rediscover a significant segment of their reader base and the values they hold dear. Values that Captain America used to hold dear.
However, in the next question, Waid seems to throw all of that good will out the door. “Chris [Samnee] and I have been working on these issues since March, way ahead of time, way before some of the more volatile political events of the summer, so don’t expect to see him punching Nazis on page one. It may be an issue or two before we get to that, but that doesn’t mean we’re not attempting to reflect the real world.”
One of the big issues with Hydra Captain America is that writer Nick Spencer went out of his way to politicize the character. Waid seems to be wanting to do the same thing. That isn’t Classic Steve Rogers. As Christina aptly notes, Captain America isn’t political. He does the “right thing no matter what the cost.” And his idea of right is entrenched in classic American values such as truth, justice, and liberty. Not contemporary hot-button issues like fake news. Not social justice. Not privilege.
Let’s hope Waid gives us Classic Steve Rogers, but his own comments seem to be muddying those waters. Can Waid and Marvel save Captain America’s brand and image or will the character continue to have a dark shadow cast around it? I am hopeful given Waid’s past with the character and his previous work with Samnee on Daredevil that he can keep his promise and bring us Classic Steve Rogers.