Don’t be fooled by Chris Evans’ charming smile, Captain America is boring as [language!]. Especially considering his only real superpower is being able to hold a shield really well (and paint). So it’s no surprise to overcome all that red, white and bland Marvel has found the need to place their Sentinel of Liberty in some truly bizarre situations during his 75 plus years of patriotic crusading.
By now, we’re all familiar with his origins. Wanting nothing more than to kill Nazis for a living, scrawny 110-lb Steve Rogers volunteers to shoot up a super soldier serum, and as a reward, he’s transformed into a perfect human specimen. After a few successful wartime missions, he takes several decades off to nap in a glacier, then revives to lead the Avengers and banter with Scarlet Johansson.
Overall, there are few superheroes more iconic or steadfast, which is why it is so enjoyable to relive all the crazy things he’s been thrown into over the years. While there is no doubt comics are messed up as a whole, the last thing you’d expect is to see Cap get caught up in all that incest, racism and sexual victimization. Yet here we are, written proof that Captain America can offend, philander, and cross-dress with the best of them.
Here are the 15 Most WTF Things Captain America Has Done.
15. He “Accidentally” Did Drugs
Captain America wakes up one day and has a mind-blowing revelation — drugs are bad. You see, while the rest of the country’s been tirelessly battling a narcotic epidemic over the past 100 years, the nation’s staunchest protector has oddly turned a blind eye. Maybe it has something to do with the fact he owes his superpowers to synthetically enhanced drugs. Maybe he’s just been too busy punching Hitler in the face. Either way, that all comes to a crashing halt in Captain America #372-378’s when Steve Rogers enforces his own personal war on drugs by getting high as a star-spangled kite.
On the first stop of his heroic anti-drug tour, Cap gets blown up in a meth lab. He immediately forms a methamphetamine addiction, turns into a drug-crazed maniac, and grows a scruffy beard (as addicts are wont to do). Because the drug bonds to the super soldier serum in his blood, Rogers also becomes stronger than ever and embarks on a half-baked trippy adventure beating the crap out of Daredevil, eating all of Kingpin’s spaghetti, and spontaneously clucking like a chicken. After going through an Avenger intervention and nasty withdrawal, Captan America decides he’ll just say no to fighting drugs in the future and go back to doing what he does best — cold clocking Nazis.
14. He Helped Invent the American Flag
During 1976’s Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, Steve Rogers gets duped by the sorcerer Mister Buda into going on a journey through time to find the true meaning of “America.” This includes fighting the US Cavalry alongside Geronimo, starring in a Hollywood musical, boxing a man with a curly mustache, ending slavery, and witnessing a laser fight on the Moon. There’s also this piece of paradoxical revisionist history they failed to teach us in elementary school — Captain America’s outfit inspired the American flag.
Arriving during the days of the Revolutionary War, Cap sits down to a cup of tea with Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross. Franklin is struck with a bout of inspiration from Cap’s manner of dress and immediately sketches a design for a new flag for the Continental Army. Realizing what’s happening, Steve Rogers freaks out and runs away like a lunatic. Apparently trying to figure out which came first — the costume or the flag — is too much for Cap to bear.
What’s really crazy about this moment is that Marvel decided a woman shouldn’t be credited with creating the American flag, and instead had Betsy Ross take a backseat to Benjamin Franklin’s genius. Of course, this isn’t the first instance of Benji Bifocals sticking his lightning rod where it didn’t belong. There was also that one time he slept with Doctor Strange’s girlfriend. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that the United States should be grateful Mister Buda didn’t send Spider-Man back in time.
13. He Dated Two Women at Once
We’re all quite familiar with Steve Rogers’ tragic romancing of Peggy Carter, which ended on account of his being an icicle for several decades and her getting old and wrinkly. Just as well known is his modern-day hookup with her great-niece, Sharon Carter, thanks to their random kiss during Civil War. Well, back in the ’60s, before these relationships got the MCU treatment, Peggy was actually Sharon’s older sister, and in Captain America #165, he tried to pull off dating them both at the same time. America, Eff Yeah!
The details are a bit convoluted, but in brief, Peggy and Steve used to date during WWII. Peggy got a bout of amnesia and forgot they broke up. Years later, despite Steve having moved on to her hotter sister, Peggy is left thinking they’re still in a relationship. Rather than suffer through an awkward moment dealing with the stupid truth, Captain America decides to lie to Peggy so as not to “hurt her feelings.” Meanwhile, whenever Peggy is out of sight, he trades up for the younger model and lets Sharon get all up in his shield.
12. Hailed Hydra, Murdered a Gorilla
The most recent entry on our list came at the end of 2016’s Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, when the Star-Spangled Avenger slapped us all in the face by uttering, “Hail Hydra.” This was just too much for some readers, so they sent death threats to writer Nick Spencer. How dare he make Captain America — the very same man that once made Hitler eat a fist sandwich — a servant of Marvel’s quasi-Nazi regime! So outrageous was this moment that everyone showed their vehement disapproval by going out and buying more comics. Take that, Marvel.
The events surrounding Cap’s turn to the dark side are strange and convoluted. They involve the Red Skull dressing up as a priest, two different Captain Americas going at it, and a cosmic cube called Kobik moonlighting as a little girl. At the crux of it all, Steve Rogers has had his memories rewritten, so he now believes he’s been raised as a sleeper agent of Hydra, which apparently also means he hates gorillas. In Captain America: Steve Rogers #4, we find Cap sinking to new lows by putting into action his new plans for Hydra. This includes stealing a secret lab from longtime Fantastic Four villain Red Ghost and his trio of soviet super-apes, all of whom he murders on the spot. While few can ever reach Batman levels of animal brutality, watching Captain America savagely bash a gorilla’s head to a pulp definitely comes close.
11. He Defied the Laws of Bodily Physics
Aka being drawn by Rob Liefeld. In the ’90s, Liefeld was one of the most in-demand comic artists, and as such, he was given free reign to do whatever he wished with Marvel’s most beloved superheroes and their bodily proportions. Thus, in 1996, the world got Heroes Reborn, a modern makeover that flipped off seven million years of evolution and gave a whole new meaning to the word pinhead. Women got all their stomachs removed and backs broken. Men were inflated with mega-muscles previously unknown to science. Everyone received tiny feet (or none at all). Ginormous guns abound. And pouches. So, so many pouches. Still, none of that came close to Captain America’s massive man pecs.
Criticizing Rob Liefeld’s nuanced drawing style has been pretty much beaten to death. More rare are those brave souls defending his anatomical abominations. Kudos to them. We’re not here to say what is right or wrong when it comes to reality or decency or the number of pouches on one’s belt. All we’re saying is what the eff is up with that chest? And those arms? And the way his chest looks like it’s trying to become a part of his arms? Even Cap’s shield has muscles. And don’t get us started on what he looks like naked. It takes quite an Escherian feat of artistry to defy biology, physics, and perspective all at the same time. Though maybe instead of chastising Mr. Liefeld, we should be admonishing Captain America for eating the Incredible Hulk whole.
10. He Watched Richard Nixon Kill Himself
The Vietnam War showed America that it could lose. Watergate proved that politicians truly were crooks. The Beatles had just broken up. The pornstache was in vogue. Life couldn’t get any lower that it did during the ’70s. Worst of all, no one wanted to buy Captain America comics anymore. Sure the character’s unshakable patriotism made sense when he was fighting Nazis during World War II, but now he was just championing a nation rife with corruption and poor fashion choices. So what do you do if you’re Marvel? Have Richard Nixon shoot himself in the head, of course.
In 1974’s Captain America #175, Steve Rogers uncovers a secret empire controlling the US government. He quickly learns the conspiracy goes all the way to the top and confronts their mysterious hooded leader in the Oval Office. Unmasking the tyrant, Rogers is shocked beyond belief to find someone he knows all too well. Realizing the gig is up, the villain nonchalantly blows his own brains out right in front of Captain America’s virginal eyes. While the character in question is never explicitly referenced as being the then-current President Nixon, it’s pretty obvious that Marvel just killed off Tricky Dick to boost sales. (Not to mention the fact that writer Steve Englehart has said he very much intended it be Nixon.)
9. He Abandoned America to Wear a Cape
Because watching Richard Nixon shoot himself in the head was just too much to handle, the Sentinel of Liberty decided to quit America. This conveniently coincided with the rest of the country’s similar disillusionments over the failings of government, so no one really cared (unlike when Superman renounced his U.S. citizenship). Still, abandoning the nation Captain America had sworn to protect was not cool.
However, there was one thing Steve Rogers wasn’t ready to abandon — the heroic limelight. After enjoying several weeks of retirement canoodling with Sharon Carter (still behind Peggy’s back), he eventually comes to the conclusion that he’s too awesome to keep from the world. So during Captain America #180, he draws up a new superhero persona, sews together an outfit from black curtains, buys some yellow boots at a local shoe store, slaps on a ridiculous two-toned cape and PRESTO! Nomad (as in the “man without a country“) was born! Nomad was then promptly killed off four issues later when Rogers realized trading in a symbol of freedom for yellow boots was a real jerk move. That, and he trips over the cape while trying to pursue some criminals and ends up looking like a real idiot. The point is, America is more than just its government, and Captain America should champion its ideals no matter who’s in power, because that’s the whole point of Captain freakin’ America.
8. He Instigated an American Civil War
While Captain America didn’t technically start the Marvel hatefest that was 2006’s Civil War storyline, he did do a whole lot to get it up and running. When posed with the choice to support the Superhero Registration Act or not, he opted to form a resistance group dubbed the Secret Avengers. Granted, Iron Man was acting like a huge dick and gave him little choice in the matter, but we’re pretty sure the Sentinel of Liberty could have figured out another way to set things right other than becoming a domestic terrorist who leads an armed rebellion against his own country.
As bad as that sounds, the MCU’s Civil War took things to another level when Cap goes to war with the U.S. because best friends are forever. All that shamefulness aside, in the comics, Rogers eventually comes to his senses after he’s tackled by post-9/11 emergency responders and surrenders, single-handedly ending the conflict he helped instigate. All of which proves he could have at any time stopped everything from happening and prevented billions of dollars in destruction, groups of innocent people from getting killed, and The Thing from moving to France. That’s right, FRANCE! What a jerk.
7. He Starred in a Horrible VHS Movie
Before there was Chris Evans, there was Matt Salinger, aka the son of Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. While there have been some heinous superhero movies over the years, the 1990 Captain America straight-to-VHS release might be the worst. And that’s saying a lot, considering Halley Berry managed to make basketball look uncool as Catwoman.
If you go into Captain America expecting a campy B-movie, you might come away happy. Probably not, but it’s worth a shot. Unfortunately, the film lacked any semblance of a script, acting, budget, or Anthony Mackie — in other words, everything that makes a movie a movie. What it did have was an extremely Italian Red Skull saying such Italian things as “Mama Mia!”, Steve Rogers repeatedly feigning stomach sickness so he could steal people’s cars, and fake rubber ears in place of Captain America’s real ones. It also included such big name stars as the father from A Christmas Story and the mother from A Christmas Story. Just imagine though what would have been if this film was made with one of the actors originally slated to play Cap, namely Val Kilmer, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and… Howie Long? Though we have to give credit where credit is due — Salinger’s turn as the Star-Spangled Avenger is not the worst version of the character ever put to celluloid. That honor goes to, you guessed it, Turkish Captain America.
6. He Became a Werewolf
Captain America has undergone some crazy transformations. He’s been Hulkified, de-aged, re-aged, teen-aged, and even turned into a spider. However, the hairiest of the bunch occurred in Captain America #405 when Cap gets injected with a werewolf serum and comes out the other side looking like a bipedal Lassie on steroids.
Not surprisingly, Capwolf turns out to be just as righteous as his human counterpart, eventually leading a werewolf rebellion (with the help of Wolverine of course) to take back the night and right the wrongs committed against canine-kind. Far more amazing is the fact that this storyline was stretched out over a six issue arc, which probably explains why we get scenes like the one where Capwolf organizes a werewolf pyramid or the one where he fights a vampire dopplegänger of himself. Overall, the Star-Fanged Avenger was as entertaining as he was ridiculous, and was evidence that Captain America’s writers had officially run out of ideas.
5. He Was Racist
Sometimes, Cap just needs a nudge in the wrong direction to go full racist. Other times, he is racist all of his own accord. Thanks to the evil doings (and mind-gas) of Dr. Faustus in Captain America #234, a bout of brainwashing causes the Sentinel of Liberty to incite a race riot by belligerently shouting such things as, “your hearts are blacker than your skin.” We know he’s under mind control here, but it’s still a bit disconcerting how easily the racism rolls off Cap’s tongue.
Unfortunately, brainwashing can’t be blamed for his “yellow monkey” cursing of a Japanese soldier in Captain America Comics #6. Nope, that credit goes to good ole fashioned xenophobia, with a whole lot anti-Japanism sprinkled on top. The thing about Captain America is that, probably more than any other superhero, he is a reflection of the times he’s drawn, and as such, he was the ultimate symbol of wartime American propaganda during the ’40s. Which is why in those early days the word “orientals” was freely thrown about to depict evil yellow skinned mongoloid monsters, usually with fangs. Captain America Comics #14 is particularly memorable for dishing out two racial stereotypes for the price of one when a gang of Japenese villains disguise themselves as Native Americans then attack white U.S. citizens. Captain America intervenes with a triumphant, “let’s give their copper-colored hides some exercise” then rat-ta-tat’s them all to death with a Tommy gun. Obviously, Cap is expressing the national sentiment of the era, but that doesn’t make it right or any less screwed up. Though it does provide a disturbing new perspective on that time he casually blew up North Korea with the help of Wolverine and Deadpool.
4. He Brandished a Swastika
As crazy as the racist rant Captain America embarked on mid-brainwash in Captain America #234 was, that issue had a far more shocking moment in store for readers. Because immediately after expounding on the merits of a “strong and pure” America, he drove the point home by whipping out his shield emblazoned with none other than a fiery swastika. *Collective Gasp*
With his new symbol in tow and entirely under the control of the white supremacist faction known as the National Force, the newly formed Sentinel of Hate appeared on national TV to unite skinheads everywhere. Fortunately, Daredevil is watching (despite being blind) and immediately jumps into action, fights the crazed Avenger, and removes all traces of offensiveness painted on his shield. With the return of his weapon’s original starred design, Cap immediately snaps out of his racist haze, remembers swastikas are bad, and embarks on a bigot beatdown. However, the damage has already been done, and none of us can ever erase from our minds the sight of Captain America going full Nazi. Well, at least he didn’t salute Hitler.
3. He Saluted Hitler
Apparently, every time Captain America gets brainwashed, he turns into a Nazi. In 1965’s Tales of Suspense #67, the Red Skull drugs Cap and tricks him into assassinating the commander of the Allied Forces. He then proudly parades off his new superpowered puppet in front of the Fuhrer, commanding him to get to heiling. Astonishingly, the Captain abides.
Written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby, one can imagine how well this went over with the country. Luckily, these two Marvel legends didn’t stop there. As usual, Hitler is having a tantrum on that day, throwing books around and calling everyone dummkopf. However, the site of an obedient Captain America fancies his stache, and he immediately tries to take advantage of the situation by punching Cap in the face. The Star-Spangled Avenger’s reflexes kick in and he promptly raises his shield, upon which Adolf shatters his wimpy fist. Thus proving that even when he has the upper hand, Hitler is still a clown. Also, that Captain American should really stop getting brainwashed.
2. He Dressed Up as an Old Lady
Captain America is a pretty manly guy. But he’s still secure enough to don high heels, shoulder pads, and a corset when the situation calls for it, because that’s what it means to be a superhero. Sure, the character’s debut in the first issue of Captain America Comics had him uppercutting Hitler, but the following issue showed Cap’s true colors when he masquerades around Nazi Germany as an elderly grandmother.
In 1941’s Captain America Comics #2, Steve Rogers learns a wealthy American businessman has been captured by the enemy. Without missing a beat, he jumps into action and puts on a dress, then heads off to Europe incognito to investigate hand in hand with Bucky Barnes, who’s forced to play his grandson to complete the rouse. Along the way, Cap takes up knitting, starts saying things like “sweet child”, and for some odd reason, remains in full Golden Girl garb even when alone. Try and beat that, Hitler face punch!
Amazingly, this was not Rogers’ last foray into cross-dressing. In 1991’s Captain America #387, the ultra-feminist supervillain Superia plots to control the world by sterilizing all the planet’s women. When Cap tries to intervene, she subjects him to “feminization treatments” to physically transsexualize Captain America into a woman against his will. Fortunately, he gets out in time, but to pull off his escape, he has to dress up as a superheroine complete with a stuffed towel for a bust. Like we said, just another day in the life of a superhero.
1. He Tried to Guilt 10-Year-Old Girls Into Being His “Special Friend”
Long before Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark proved superheroes had no place on Broadway, Captain America made a far stronger case. It was 1985, and somebody with way too much money on their hands green-lit a $4 million Captain America musical. The plot was as follows:
Captain A. [is] going through a mid-life crisis. Fortunately, the action speeds up – his girlfriend, a candidate for President, is captured by terrorists and held hostage at the Lincoln Memorial.
All that was left now was to find the star of the show. Thankfully, Marvel knew exactly where to look — their comic book fan base. And with that, a pedophile was born.
The producers ran an open casting call in a bunch of comics around this time looking for girls between 10 and 14 to play Captain America’s “very special friend.” All these girls had to do was send a photo of themselves to a random address and wait for some old white dude dressed in spandex to make all their dreams come true. Because if you can’t trust some sketchy ad in the back of a comic book, what can you trust? Best of all, the very bottom included this moving request: “Do it today. You wouldn’t want to let Cap down, would you?” What exactly this “friend” would be called upon to do for Cap we will never know. Not surprisingly, everyone involved with Captain America – The Musical quickly realized the whole thing was a horrible idea. All that remains of it today is this creepy ad, and the memory of that one time America’s staunchest protector tried to guilt adolescent girls everywhere into getting in touch with him.
Do you know of any other times Captain America dressed up as a woman or acted like a Nazi? Let us know in the comments.