‘Captain America’ Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

Published 4 years ago by , Updated July 27th, 2011 at 9:06 pm,

captain america comic book comparison guide Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

Captain America: The First Avenger recently opened to the biggest box office numbers a superhero film has received all summer. Perhaps even more impressively, the film managed to dethrone the juggernaut that is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in only its second weekend.

The First Avenger is, for the most part, a fairly faithful adaptation of the classic Captain America mythos – distilled, of course, and with bits and pieces from other versions thrown in for good measure (The Ultimates, the 1970s Captain America TV show, and so forth), but faithful nonetheless.

The following feature article is a comprehensive guide that examines the major – and sometimes not so major – differences between Captain America: The First Avenger and the comic books that it was derived from – including the classic Marvel universe (616 universe) and the more modern “Ultimate” universe. Before you read on, be sure to check out our Captain America: The First Avenger review to know where we stand in regards to the movie.

NOTE: We did a similar comic book/movie comparison for Green Lantern about a month ago. Because the more sarcastic aspects of that piece overshadowed the “guide” side of things, we’ve decided to be more objective (read: less sarcastic) for the Captain America edition.



Captain America (Comic Books/Film)

steve rogers transformation Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

Of all the elements in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America himself (portrayed by Chris Evans) is probably most like his original comic book counterpart.

Both versions of Steve Rogers begin as small, skinny, weak, and sickly; both versions are artists; both versions are determined to join the war, and, after numerous attempts, accomplish this goal by way of Project Rebirth (created by Dr. Abraham Erskine). Both, despite initially being propagandist tools in the form of Captain America, are incredibly wholesome, compassionate, and concerned with doing the right thing, no matter what. And of course, both utilize a massive circular shield made of Vibranium, an extremely rare element typically found in the highly advanced African kingdom of Wakanda.

Both Super Soldier transformation processes involve an injection of the Super Soldier Serum before being doused by “Vita-Rays.” Both processes are totally unique and never perfectly replicated after Rogers, as the creator, Erskine, is killed by a Nazi saboteur.

However, one major difference from comic to film is that, in the film, Captain America was a performer in a USO show for nearly a year before he saw any actual combat.

Captain America’s Costumes (Comic Books/Film)

old costumes comparison Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

The above costume and shield were the very first to be used by Captain America. By issue #2, Jack Kirby had designed the legendary circular shield for him to use instead. The film pays homage to the original costume/shield by having Steve Rogers use them during his USO days.

captain america costume 2 comparison Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

Captain America’s second costume — and his first in action costume — appears to be heavily inspired by the costume worn by Ultimate Cap during World War II (as seen in The Ultimates).

final captain america costume comparison Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

And last, but not least, Captain America’s final costume seems to be an amalgamation of the Ultimate Cap’s World War II costume as well as his Ultimates costume — more the latter than the former.

Margaret “Peggy” Carter (Comic Books)

peggy carter in the comics Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

Peggy Carter from the comics was an American intelligence agent – more specifically, a liaison to the French Resistance – and sort of Captain America’s girlfriend during the war, though sexy occurrences between the two were few and far in between. Remember, people, comics were for children back then!

After being unfrozen, Cap would go on to date Peggy’s little sister, Sharon Carter, as Peggy had aged far beyond him in the years between WWII and his discovery. Then, due to Marvel’s shifting timeline, Sharon was retconned to be Peggy’s niece instead. Either way, it’s kind of creepy.

Peggy Carter (Film)

hayley atwell as peggy carter Captain America Comic Book & Movie Comparison Guide

The Peggy Carter of the film (played by Hayley Atwell) is pretty much identical to her comic book counterpart, except for a few caveats. First of all, she’s British instead of American. Secondly, unlike comic book Peggy, film Peggy meets Steve Rogers – and perhaps even grows fond of him – prior to his participation in Project Rebirth, and acts as Steve’s chaperone during the experiment. In this way only, she’s more like Cynthia Glass from the comics, a Nazi double agent (A.K.A. Agent X) who fell for Steve despite her allegiances, and sacrificed her life to save his.

Bucky Barnes…

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  1. very well done . something for the young and old

  2. Captain America was awesome. None of the changes took away from the film at all. I would have at least liked to have seen Bucky in a domino mask, but oh well. And Red Skull’s head turning into a red skull wasn’t “inexplicable.” He explained it in the film, the incomplete super-soldier serum worked in the sense that it gave him the amped up strength and such. But it deformed him and drove him insane.

    The reason the Howling Commando’s were led by a young Nick Fury in the comics is because when Cap joined the Avengers, it was 1963, just 20 years after Cap was frozen. So it’s a Nick Fury in his 40’s cap meets up with after he’s thawed out. But in the modern versions where it’s played up like Cap has been thawed out in the 90’s or early 2000’s, they’ve had to change it because it’s been over 50 years, not 20.

    Changes have to be made to keep up with the times. It’s no big deal. In some versions, it was Nick’s father Jack Fury that led the Howling Commandos.

    • I was explaining that very same thing to my wife after seeing the movie(she’s never read comic books).The look on her face was priceless.It was a combination of “I really don’t care” and “How do you remember all this stuff?”.

      • wow…my wife has that same EXACT look when I explain stuff, too! And then she says, “How come you can remember all of that comic stuff, but you can’t remember what I told 2 hours ago?”

        • Hahaha! Priceless! 😀 😀
          Same thing happens to me when I try to explain this stuff to my friends and family!

      • After years of, “That’s OK dad”, from my kids when I try to explain a comic, Star Trek, Star Wars, Matrix, etc…, I always ask the question, “Do you really want me to explain that to you” before answering their questions. The response is nearly always, “Good point. Never mind”. :-)

        • LOL.

  3. loved captain america awesome article =)

  4. Great article! I really enjoyed it, and let’s face it, Captain America:The First Avenger was much better than The Green Lantern.

    • Seriously? STILL with this crap? GL was an enjoyable film. CA:TFA was a good HALF-film. Sheesh…move past the shooting down already!

      • Why do you care if another commenter doesn’t like a movie you enjoyed? I mean, you do realize that you just shot down Captain America by calling it a half-film, right? So you’re doing what you’re saying other people shouldn’t be doing.

        • Captain America may have already shoot itself in the leg after one good movie.

          • Huh? Wha?

            • Do you think there will be a good sequel to Captain America?I kinda doubt it hence the term “shoot in the leg”.

              • Why couldn’t there be? TFA was a great movie but one thing it lacked was the action, like Blonsky did in Incredible Hulk. Also, they didn’t show much of the Hollowing Commandos missions, so that could be explored.

          • I have no idea what you just said…

          • Can someone translate this for me, please?

        • Actually, I had already pointed out that I enjoyed the film (the review thread, I think), but I had also stated that I thought the film would have been a 4-star in my mind instead of just a three if the second part had been even close to as good as the first.

          first half: worthwhile, excellent film
          second half: fun, yet derivative and uninspired, bubblegum

          Thus, it was HALF a film.

          I have no problem with someone liking or disliking a movie and praising/critiquing it accordingly. I DO, however, find it irritating when someone returns to a subject seemingly done (a divisive one, at that) for absolutely NO reason…This thread discusses Captain America (two versions, but ONLY CA) and does not even compare two MOVIES. He had no reason to even mention, much less compare to CA, “Green Lantern”.

          THAT was why I commented.

          • The thing is, it is relevant. They’re both comic book movies. They both came out relatively close to each other. There’s no rule against someone bringing up other superhero films by comparison.

            And regardless of whether or not you said in another thread that you enjoyed it, you still shot down Captain America in this one. I actually agree with you that the first half was better than the second half, by the way, but that’s neither here nor there.

            • …hence why I would have given it a 3 instead of a four (or what I likely would have rated it had the film remained consistently good: a 4.5).

              • Someone isn’t getting the point Ben.

                • No, do not concern yourself. I got it. I simply do not agree with it. He has his opinion; I have mine.

                  Thank you for trying to play.

                  • I’ll concern myself with whatever I deem interesting to me. Right now, your lack of comprehension, or refusal to admit you did what you were so mad at others for doing, amuses me.

                    • …so what you’re saying is that you simply enjoy being annoying?

                      Not surprising…

                    • You just can’t get through to some people can you Ink?

                      Don’t give your rating for CA on this thread Archaeon there is a review thread on SR so your review has no place WHATSOEVER on this thread you imbecile….are you allowing sarcasm now or should I wait for a thread relating to it?

          • Captain America may have only been good for half of the film but Green Lantern was awful for the entire film so I don’t see where the issue is with someone saying they don’t like it? Just because there was a thread back in June that got heated by some fools others can’t say they didn’t like GL anymore? That’s hardly rational….but to each their own.

            • Timothy…

              The issue is that he brought it up for NO reason (this is a purely CA thread, not mentioning or involving ANY other heroes or films). If he (or anyone else, for that matter) did not like GL, that is not my problem, nor something that even SHOULD bother me. I thoroughly enjoyed GL. Our respective opinions are equally legitimate, thus not worth getting upset about.

              As for those FOOLS you mentioned, you obviously meant on BOTH sides of that argument, right? Obviously, you did.

              See? Simple…

              Ta ta, Timothy… :)

              • Not that simple, are you going to bash anyone who brings up a subject not related to a particular thread? You are upset about it because you liked GL, that’s all.

                I don’t see the big deal with what he said anyway, he was referencing Captain America being better than GL and that is related to Captain America, correct?

                I would like to see a combic book comparison for some older comic book movies such as Iron Man, OH sorry Archaeon I’ll wait for an Iron Man thread to bring that one up, you see how stupid that is? I hope you realize you were wrong in calling out bs, it was a perfectly rational comment that could have created a good discussion and your are detracting people from sharing their opinions.

                • Funny…I don’t recall initiating ANY conversation with you. I simply responded to your inane comments. YOU chose to continue this, thus distracting everyone from the topic at hand. This likely would have ended and faded if it had remained between Ben and me. You and Ink decided to stick your noses in it…good idea.

                  Try again.

              • Someone should reread the first page of the article, where Green Latern IS brought up, and thus, the precedent set.

                • HA, nice catch Jbrose23…can you admit you were wrong Archaeon?

                  • Yah Archaeon, you are a fool.

                    • …and you, M, are a fool AND an ass.


                  • Nope.

                • J…

                  Actually , GL was mentioned specifically to indicate that this type of article had been done previously and had NOTHING to do with THIS article, so…NO precedent set.

                  It’s okay…you gave it a shot.


                  • Whatever you say, you’ll just try to detract from your error but hey GL did suck….oops wrong thread.

                    • Wow, I was right…you really ARE an ass. Judging by your above “imbecile” response, you also lack impulse control.


                      Oh, well. Just go back to your mommy and her nice, warm basement, and stop frothing at the mouth.


                    • You’re getting desperate Archaeon.

                    • Dear Timmy,

                      Your “charming” silliness is just SO darling. Can we get back to the article now? Good boy.


      • I totally agree with you

  5. Ditto

    I want a Cosmic Cube to crush my weakling enemies!

  6. A brilliant article, Ben, that I will gladly share with several gooney movie reviewers calling Captain America “the worst movie of the summer”. Superb detail, lightning quick referential detail that serves as a quality signpost to a great movie for Summer 2011.

  7. Great article. None of the changes bothered me and felt some were neccesary to make the film more grounded. “The First Avenger” is definitely up there with my favorite superhero films.

  8. I wish they had used more Shield Ricocheting action in the film.

    • True, but don’t forget they have plenty of time to make up for that in “The Avengers”. I’m glad they built a good origin story for Cap before the team-up

  9. Awesome article.

    • Thanks, Alex!

  10. Never understood why the US military would experiment on a weakling when they should have picked a genetic freak to make him even MORE powerful! As well as Capt America just doesnt blend in and would be a more easy target due to his not so camo attire. Yes it is fantasy but still kinda funny. Hear its a good movie so def going to see it this weekend!

    • Sigh, um they’ll explain why he was chosen in the movie. It’s for a good reason and for that reason alone I was enamored and touched by the tone/attitude of Cap’s character. Love this movie.

    • *Sigh* Oh dear. HERE ladies and gentlemen, we have a perfect example of a person who knows squat/nothing about Cap or his origin.

      But I guess, since you haven’t seen the film, you are excused 😉

    • they explain that in the movie, they need a man who is truly good at heart and Steve proves that he is, plus he is (in the comics) the peak of human perfection so noone would look any different if they had the same treatment

  11. I do believe Red Skull is alive, when they showed that space area above Red Skull at the near end of the movie. It looked really a like to how Asgard looked in Thor so i have a feeling Loki will sneak him back on Earth. I don’t believe it will happen in The Avengers, but i think it will some point in the movie franchise. Really great comparison to Captain America

    • Dude, there’s a spoilers discussion for something like this. Some people haven’t seen the movie.

      • Yah, I was thinking the same thing.

        • Hey TL we finally agree. :)

          • Haha, well I better go buy a lotter ticket then ha INK. I’ll split the winnings with you.

            • I’ll hold you to that. :)

      • Not to nit pick but if they have not seen the movie this article kinda isn’t for then to be reading just yet.

        • I guess, but this still is not a spoilers discussion page.

          • I don’t know, I think the massive red warning in bold saying that there are spoilers in this article give commenters free reign to talk First Avenger spoilers.

            • So now any article with spoiler warnings in it is a spoiler discussion thread? Right….

              • Yes.

              • An article with massive spoilers about Captain America makes it okay to post comments about Captain America spoilers, yes. The guy was responding directly to something I wrote:

                “Near the end of First Avenger, Red Skull accidentally grabs hold of the Cosmic Cube with his bare hands in a fight to the death with Cap, and the Cube vanishes him with a cosmic blast of lightning. To his death? It’s unclear, which is why it’s more probable that he was zapped to some alternate, possibly Asgard-related dimension. Could Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull feature prominently in the upcoming Avengers film? It’s seems highly possible, as the Cosmic Cube will no doubt play a major role in the story.”

                So if you want to blame someone, blame me.

                • Kind of an ass move there Ben.

                  • I’m sorry, what was an ass move? I wrote an article about the details of the Captain America film and how those details compared/contrasted to the comic books the film was based on. Frankly, spoilers in the article, and in the comments, are fair game — hence the Spoiler Warning.

                    • Ben…

                      THIS seems like the perfect place to tell you FINALLY what I wished say before that above unpleasantness:

                      I very much enjoyed this piece. I did not know (or, at least, remember) A LOT about CA. This was a great refresher article…so thank you. THAT was what I had wanted to say after you and I finished our brief back-and-forth above…which, as far as I could tell, really WAS finished. Hopefully, the Three Musketeers are through sticking their pointy little heads into others’ discussions (it seems TWO probably are.

                      Anyway, although we may not always agree, I’m glad we were able to talk civilly here.

                    • …sigh, excuse the couple of typos…

  12. Glad for this article. I didn’t know much about Cap besides he was a super-soldier and his main enemy was Red Skull.

    I’m hoping for a sequel. I was really touched by his character and it really spoke to me. Guess I’m the only person looking forward to an expansion on Cap’s character now than the Avengers movie.

    I knew Bucky’s character couldn’t be killed as easily.

  13. Marvel-3,DC-0….Lol

    • Yeah, those Batman films were completely unsuccessful.

      Unless you count every measurable means of success, such as “film critic reviews” and “money.”

      • Nice. :)

      • You know, you really need to set up a “Like” button. 😀

    • …sigh…

    • I have yet to be wowed at the theater by a marvel movie like I was with Dark Knight. Cap was a great great and fun movie. But still not as good as Dark Knight.

      • And we’re off …

        • Oh God…this comment had to come sooner or later lol. I look at it this way : the Marvel films (IM, Thor, Cap) and the Batman films are two different kinds of movies. The Marvel movies are fun superhero movies, while BB and TDK are more along the lines of crime dramas thrillers.

  14. While I was NOT a fan of you guys ripping apart Green Lantern with a similar comparison (and not doing the same for XMFCs grievous deviations), if you are willing to keep up the comparisons (for good or for bad) I would really like it. It’s always interesting to see what has or has not been changed from the comics.

    Look forward to future comparisons! (The Avengers will be especially interesting)

    • well it sucked, it looked absolutely terrible and the action was corny, i love GL but i watched 30 mins and then stopped (“legally acquiring” movies ftw)i will say to its credit though it didnt shy away from the whole intergalactic aspect of the comics with Oa and the guardians and stuff and it was pretty accurate comics wise but still a bad film

    • Thanks, Mongoose!

  15. The only real glarring omission is that Wolverine was part of the Howlers for a while but he wont be in the film as Marvel dont have the rights Mr Jackman does…… would of been cool though.

    • Yeah, it would have been SO awesome… but like you said THE MAN came in the way with his stupid COPYRIGHT LAWS.

      • Here’s a question for anyone:

        Could Jackman have made a cameo, WITHOUT there being mention of who he was?

        It would have seemed odd yes, just curious of the legal wrangling.

        • Just have one of the Wolverine’s dressed up at Comic Con make a cameo.

    • Wait…WHAT? I actually bought SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS. Never saw Wolverine in the mag. I think it was actually cancelled BEFORE the character was even created. They came around to the Normandy Invasion twice and stopped doing the book!

      Now Wolverine MIGHT have been in an Ultimate version of the Howlers…I don’t know about that one way tuther. I also have no memory of Jim Morita, and Jaques Dernier…Ultimates…or just my bad memory? No recollection of “Jack Fury” either. Ultimates again?

      The article fails to mention Izzy Cohen as one of the original Howlers also.

  16. GREAT article! Really helped me understand the history of Capt. America.

    @mongoose: I totally agree with comparison articles in the future. Really help guys like me, who enjoy a good comic book movie, but don’t have anything other than basic knowledge of the characters outside the film

    Good job, Ben! :)

    • Thanks, Al! Much appreciated.

  17. It’s quite frustrating that up till now Capt.America hasn’t gotten to the cinemas here and one cant make any meaningful contributions on it. I’m not even reading comments so as not to spoil it for myself. But the general impression I get is that the movie was well-received which is good to hear.

  18. cap was awesome

  19. I think it was one of the better Marvel movies since ummm Xmen first class???

  20. Very nice article Moore, well done.


  21. Great Article, Ben. I showed a couple of buddies who had questions this article. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to explain than show more explanations to some people. I was wondering how I could further explain some of the Cap things and this showed up and BOOM, awesomeness. Thanks Ben


  22. It also seems like the cosmic cube is what is responsible for Tony Stark’s father’s creation of the arc reactor. The arc reactor has the same blue glow that the cosmic cube has, and it would make since that this would be the reason Tony’s father was able to create something so ahead of its time. I’m excited about the Avengers, but still unsure about Joss Whedon. He just hasn’t ever done anything that has a wow factor to it. I hope I’m wrong though. Still, they should have let leterrier do it.

    • I wondered about that, too. The effects were the same, and the fact that Stark, Sr., caused/witnessed it initially back in the ’40s lends credence to the possibility.

      • Why are you bringing up Howard Stark? This write up has nothing do do with him, what are you thinking? Please discuss this topic in a more suitable thread.

        • Awww, is widdle Timmy twowing a tantwum…awww, poor baby.

          It is sad how bad a joke you’ve become, Timtim…awww.

          • I’m crying tears of joy and it appears you’re the only one getting the joke, jog on.

            • Poor widdle Timmy…so vewy, vewy sad…awww.

              • Ok you win, I talk like a baby, I’ve had it since birth.

                • So sad…so, so sad.

  23. Wow Arch, you need psychological help.

    • Wally…

      WHY do you say that?

  24. Awesome article! The comics are great and the movie was amazing!

  25. Captain America was an awesome movie. That is all.

  26. Good stuff. It was much better than the (old) Captain America movie marathon that was on SyFy a few weeks ago.

  27. 1 big doubt, the powers of captain america in the cinematic universe are based on 616 universe or ultimate universe ?

  28. Your means of describing all in this paragraph is genuinely pleasant, every one be capable of effortlessly know it, Thanks a lot.