Steve Rogers vs. Pop Culture

There’s this moment in Daredevil where Foggy says something like, “I can call myself Captain America but it doesn’t put wings on my head.” I had a moment when we watched that episode where I thought, “…but MCU Cap doesn’t have wings on his head. They’re just painted on the cowl,” and it annoyed me because it was one of the most solid connections between the TV series and the universe of the movies and it kind of came off like it wasn’t even a movie reference at all, but one to the familiar comic book character of Captain America.

Then the moment passed, and I realized: it probably was.

Captain America went into the ice 70 years ago. Before that, he was best known from his USO tour, the staged newsreels, movie serials, and—of course—the comic books they cranked out. The secret war against Hydra didn’t seem like it was in the public eye, so who knows how much footage of him in the tactical outfit Howard Stark designed was shown to the public at the time. Enough to counter the original image of him in the colorful pajamas?

It’s something interesting to think about. Did the U.S. government and/or the fictional counterpart of Marvel/Timely Comics ever revive the character in print? Maybe in the 60s, when they thought the country needed a symbol of unity to rally around? In real life, the fictional character was revived once before his Avengers debut at the height of the Red Scare as a jingoistic reactionary figure, an embarrassing misstep that had to be retconned as a government-made stand-in when a kinder, gentler Steve Rogers made it to print.

Imagine the possible parallels if Steve returned from the ice to find out that Captain America comic books have been used to sell the message of the month for decades… I imagine Steve’s friends would have used their influence to try to keep the political slant to a dull roar, but influence does fade.

Whatever the answers to these questions are, it’s more than possible that Foggy grew up reading comics about the Hitler-punching Cap with wings on his head. As much as real world comic fans gripe about the movie counterparts’ costumes not looking right, how weird would it be to have your own comic book hero pop up in real life and his costume’s wrong?