Captain America | Man of Controversy (Opinion)

Written By: Traves Bezenar

Captain America has been the subject of a lot of discussion over the last few weeks. First a new movie in the Captain America franchise dropped to great success making over a billion dollars since it’s release. Sadly, that’s where the good news seems to end for the first avenger.

The first bit of controversy we’re going to talk about is related to Capt’s  character in the MCU. Since ‘Captain America: Civil War’ was released many fans have taken to social media, tumblr, and other platforms to make their fan fiction a reality, to turn Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes gay. Normally I don’t care what choices movie makers, comic artist, or actors make when it comes to bringing their characters to life, but in this case, I have a problem. I’m not against having gay characters in comics or anything so archaic, I’m not even against Captain America being gay in his next reboot. My problem stems from the idea of changing Capt’s character this late in the game. It’s already been well established that Steve Rogers is straight in the film universe, his relationships with Peggy and Sharon Carter should be evidence enough of that.

Unlike Princess Elsa from ‘Frozen’, who many also want to come out as gay in her next movie, Steve Rogers has already had his sexuality established. I’ve read a lot of the arguments for the relationship online like; Steve being from a time when he would be shunned for being gay, that Bucky and Steve are clearly sexually attracted to each other, and even just doing it to be progressive for the sake of being progressive. Some of the points are good and could work in the MCU but for the most part they seem to be grasping at straws. The truth is, making Captain America gay at this point is insulting.. People don’t just wake up one day and decide to be gay, or randomly change their sexuality on whim. That’s just not how sexuality works and it’s a stereotype LGBT people have been fighting against for decades.

The other reason Capt has been in the headlines this week is due to the new book ‘Captain America: Steve Rogers #1’ where it’s revealed that Captain America is, and has always been, a member of the terrorist organization Hydra. A lot of fans online are unhappy about this and from my previous paragraph you might assume I am too, but you’d be wrong. I actually love it. Comics, unlike movies, go through reboots, retcons and retellings almost constantly. For instance DC just recently rebooted their entire comic line up with the introduction of ‘The New 52’, and that isn’t even their first time doing it.

After reading the controversy first hand on reddit’s /R/Marvel subreddit, I was admittedly ready to grab my pitch fork and join the angry mob, but instead decided to check out the issue and make an informed opinion for myself. I was shocked to say the least. Not shocked by the reveal, I already knew it was coming, but by how well it was done. The narrative tells a parallel story between a young Hydra suicide bomber and Steve Rogers. It shows, and handedly I might add, how dangerous and easy it is to indoctrinate the disenfranchised. The whole book’s premise can be summed up in three words, indoctrination is bad.

Personally I feel that this drastic change in character will ultimately be  written off as mind control, time travel, or some other comic book deus ex machina. However, in the meantime it’s  a great way of relating the real world state of political affairs to the comic world. There are a lot of people in the world struggling with the feeling and issues expressed in the pages of this comic’s first issue like; how poverty can lead to feelings of resentment against a perceived enemy, turning to nationalism for answers, the apathetic response to the underlying problems by those with the ability to correct them, and how it all leads to the ultimate conclusion  - disenfranchisement. In my opinion this book is a masterpiece of poignant political commentary and we should enjoy it while it lasts.   

When you get right down to it, some changes are good for a character and some are not, and some changes will work in one medium but not in another. Maybe someday we’ll see a gay Steve Rogers embrace with Bucky on the silver screen but now is not the time for that. Maybe (and likely) the Captain America of the comics will someday  turn back to the straight and narrow. For now though, let’s allow the creator’s to create, to tell the stories they want to tell, and let the characters evolve organically. After all, what you want to see, might just be a retcon away.