Most of the world’s famous comic book superheroes have been through so many reboots, reimaginings and retoolings at this point that almost nothing can really shock an audience, but Marvel Comics managed just that with last week’s Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. Initially pitched as simply the latest return of the original Captain America to the role with a new shield and a new status quo, the book instead introduced unsuspecting readers to a major twist that no one could’ve seen coming; with The Captain revealing himself to be a double agent for HYDRA – and apparently having been so all along! The reveal, which Marvel is (for now) insisting is not an elaborate fake-out, was met with near-universal surprise, but also an unexpected level of anger and outrage from fans and even some fellow comics pros.
One person who’s not angry, though? Veteran Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, who has now weighed in favorably on the controversial storyline.
The answer came during a Q&A session being conducted at MegaCon, where the legendary writer/editor credited with creating or co-creating the foundations of the Marvel Universe itself (though no longer officially employed or affiliated with Marvel-proper) was asked his opinion on the Captain America twist. Lee responded thusly:
“It’s a hell of a clever idea; I don’t know that I would ever have thought of it for him to be a double agent, but it’s going to make you curious, it’s going to make you want to read the books, they’ll probably do a movie based on it, so I can’t fault it; it’s a good idea. I think it’s crazy, but it’s a good idea.”
While Lee is celebrated for having been part of the creative teams that produced legendary characters like The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, The X-Men and more largely in the early 1960s; he did not have a hand in the inception of Captain America. That character was created in the 1941 by future Lee collaborators Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, during an era where Lee had not risen to a place of prominence within Marvel itself. However, Lee (with Kirby) was responsible for the 1964 Avengers story which brought Captain America into the (then) modern Marvel universe, setting in motion the “man out of time” version of the character that has become ubiquitous in pop-culture and beloved by movie audiences worldwide as portrayed by Chris Evans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
While it’s certainly interesting to hear easily the most famous Marvel creator (if not the most famous comic creator, period) weigh in on the “pro” side of the argument, Lee’s stamp of approval is unlikely to calm the storm currently raging over the twist. While Lee himself both wrote and oversaw the writing of many controversial stories in his day, few have spun as far out of control as quickly as this one did – to the extent that many are claiming that the very idea of Captain America associating with the (sometimes) Nazi-affiliated HYDRA is so offensive considering the character’s history (i.e. having been created by two Jewish men as a specific rebuke to Hitler) that it would remain so even if it were later revealed to be a hoax or a fake-out. Thus far, Marvel has maintained a near-total silence as to where the storyline will be headed next.