He may have been a major player in the pages of Marvel Comics for over half a century, but it was only recently that Captain America became the poster boy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The quintessential hero, it’s almost impossible to imagine what kind of fight would force him to turn against his fellow Avengers. But you might be surprised to find out that the comic book history of the squeaky clean, star spangled Boy Scout is as dark as they come. And if fans of comic book movies think their superhero blockbusters are getting a little too dark, violent, or serious, they’d better hope these famous moments from Captain America’s history are never adapted.

But they’re still stories every fan should know, so we’ve made them the focus of our latest Docu Series: The Shockingly DARK History of Captain America.

Looking back now, it makes perfect sense for Cap to have made his debut in a solo comic, punching out Adolf Hitler on the front cover. But remember: the first comic was released in 1941, a full year before the United States even entered World War 2. So to a large part of the American public who weren’t looking to go to war with Germany, the star-spangled hero made his debut knocking a foreign head of state unconscious. The move proved controversial, since the world didn’t know just what Hitler’s Third Reich was up to, but it didn’t stop Timely Comics, the original publishers, since the comics that followed were huge successes, showing Cap knocking out Nazis of all shapes and sizes.

The stories inside the comics were a bit different, but remember: Steve Rogers and his sidekick Bucky Barnes were American soldiers first – so while DC’s Batman was snapping criminals’ necks, Cap and Bucky were wiping out Nazi soldiers one grenade at a time. It was war, sure, but that didn’t stop Marvel from rewriting history years later to keep Cap’s killing to a minimum.
Things got weird with Captain America almost immediately. Once the war came to an end, the writers had to find a new purpose for Cap – and had serious trouble doing it. After just 70 issues, Cap and his famous enemy Red Skull had fought in so many weird places, there was just one left to go: Hell. Descending into the underworld in “Captain America’s Weird Tales” and forced to kill Red Skull or remain there for God, Cap came through, unsure if it was all a dream – or completely real. Not surprising, it was the final issue he would appear in before joining plenty of his fellow superheroes on the shelf.