Jaws dropped the world over when Captain America gave comic readers a steely gaze accompanied by two chilling words in the first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America last month: “Hail Hydra.” Since 1941, most people have dubbed Steve Rogers the most patriotic comic book hero whether they were American or not. Captain America: Civil War was the 25th film to reach $1 billion worldwide, and with that much support behind the fresh-faced patriot, it is no wonder that this traitorous news was met with dismay, to say the least.
If Cap is actually the biggest Benedict Arnold in the pages of Marvel in the last 75 years, who is the most patriotic hero in the comicverse now? Several characters, of various nationalities, come to mind as contenders. The forthcoming heroes may not wield indestructible shields gleaming with white, blue and red rockets red glare, but they have proven to love their countries with a ferocity that can only be described as admirable. These are the 15 Most Patriotic Superheroes Ever.
The most obvious choice on the list, Superman soars with patriotic spirit. He is closest to Steve Rogers in terms of an ethics code, usually refusing to kill his villains and strictly adhering to what he believes to be right and wrong. Although not a Marvel character, Superman is older than Captain America and first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938.
Clark Kent received his strong sense of moral justice from his hardworking parents on a Kansas farm, which is as American as a backstory can get. He even stands for “truth, justice and the American way,” a radio slogan that could just as well be used for Cap. His relationship with reporter Lois Lane even provides readers with an all-American love story, giving Superman bonus points as the most patriotic hero. As perfect as the Man of Steel seems as a recipient of the patriotic award, he is still technically an alien from another planet, and while he may wear a badge-like logo on his chest, his costume colors are also not reflective of any nation, putting him a step behind Cap’s overtly patriotic wardrobe.
14. American Maid/Captain Liberty
Who better to replace Captain American than his own caricature? American Maid (or her live-action counterpart, Captain Liberty), one of the few effective heroes in The Tick, blends Cap with Wonder Woman, creating the ultimate image of patriotism. It is difficult to come up with another hero who sings “America the Beautiful” while defeating a mutant plant, relies solely upon her acrobatic capabilities to take on villains and possesses such an acerbic wit.
Flinging a pair of heels and a tiara to effectively take out bad guys sounds lame, but when paired with her many disguises, ability to quickly improvise with items in her environment and her willingness to combat crime all on her own, American Maid starts to look like a very capable and dedicated patriot reminiscent of the settlers who brought themselves up “by their bootstraps” across the country. She inspired the slightly more “serious” Captain Liberty when The Tick went to live-action.
Fans of the Lucifer comics may argue that the fallen angel is actually the opposite of patriotic, going so far as to defy God and spawn his own universe, but the version that Fox has created is a pretty all-American character. Displaying compassion, tongue-in-cheek humor and a much more flirtatious demeanor than his comic counterpart, Fox’s Lucifer is the charming anti-hero who always has his own angle. Much of Morningstar’s heroics stem from his own boredom, another experience Americans can relate to.
The devil is the ultimate bad boy, and when he does something as innocuous as taking a joint from a crime scene, it detracts from his collector-of-souls persona while emphasizing his humanness. Heroes who only act when there is something in it for them may not always be as popular as the white knight-like saviors, but the show was renewed for another season after averaging 4.5 million viewers per episode.
12. Phantom Eagle
Some of Cap’s fans might argue that his corny dialogue is a part of his charm. These are the fans that could see Phantom Eagle as his patriotic replacement. Like Cap, Phantom Eagle was a military man, a pilot who took part in World War I while completely in disguise. Phantom Eagle had no superpowers but was skillful in hand-to-hand combat. In 1968, Phantom Eagle debuted in Marvel Super Heroes #16.
While he was not a big hit, only appearing again in very rare appearances in Ghost Rider, Thor Corps and The Incredible Hulk, he did have one-liners like, “It looks like it’s high time the Phantom Eagle got his baptism under fire!” He is the one contestant for the “Most Patriotic” title that would likely deliver a “Language!” warning if used in modern context. The Phantom Eagle also has the Steve Rogers eagerness to see combat and defend the country from anyone who might dare to invade it.
11. Uncle Sam
If Uncle Sam were as beloved as Superman, he would make an even better choice as most patriotic superhero. A cross between Daredevil’s Scott Glenn and Ghost Rider’s Sam Elliot, he is the senior selection for the most patriotic hero in the history of comic books. Uncle Sam was launched in 1940 as a revolutionary war soldier who magically returned from the dead to fight for the United States when the country faced danger.
He received a more mystical story line as a possessive spirit bound to a talisman when DC Comics acquired him from Quality Comics. In this incarnation of the hero, Uncle Sam entered the body of a dying patriot in order to save the day. He is not only literally the symbolic figure of a country, but also employs the same powers as Captain America, including speed, super strength and the ability to withstand a beating. Uncle Sam has additional magical abilities, such as inter-dimensional teleportation and clairvoyance.
10. U.S. Agent
When the villain becomes the hero, it gives the public hope, a gift that Captain America is known to bestow regularly. U.S. Agent is a character who started out with a black heart but turned good, something that readers need more than ever after Cap’s side-switch. Appearing first in Captain America #323 in 1986, U.S. Agent eventually earned his own solo series after working with the West Coast Avengers. Once known as Super Patriot, U.S. Agent even took on the role as Captain America for a few years, earning him a spot as one of the Top 50 Avengers.
Unlike Steve Rogers, U.S. Agent has no problem killing villains, but he has the heroic spirit and patriotic costume for the role. In fact, U.S. Agent exhibited a fierce form of patriotism both as a villain and a hero, giving him a much more complex story than Cap has had up until last month’s Hydra reveal. U.S. Agent was designed to depict the darker side of nationalism, possibly earning him the mantles of both most patriotic hero as well as most patriotic villain.
9. Rick Grimes
While Rick Grimes may not have any special superpowers, lack a costume designed from an American flag and scream, “Coral!” way too often, he has something that the rest of the contenders on this list lack. He has the ‘everyday man’ factor. Grimes is the modern American hero battling not only monsters that were formerly his fellow humans, but monsters that remain human but lack a conscience as well.
Most people can cringe at Rick’s bloody stump or gasp when he is nearly eaten or murdered or otherwise maimed in both the Walking Dead comics and TV show, but they can also envision this happening to themselves. Grimes makes mistakes. He has a moral code riddled with as much gray area as his shirt is splattered with gray matter. He puts his family before anyone else over and over again while still trying to do what is right for the most people, and viewers relate to that. Flying by the seat of your pants while doing what you think is best at the moment is part of the new American way, making Grimes one of the most patriotic heroes in modern media.
8. Iron Patriot
If a hero were selected based on name alone, Iron Patriot would likely wear the “Most Patriotic” sash, hands down. Another character intended to exemplify the traits of Captain America, Iron Patriot combines the best of Rogers’ spirit with the armor of Iron Man, resulting in a persona associated with a suit worn by several different characters in the history of the Avengers.
Originally worn by Norman Osborne in an attempt to turn the Green Goblin into a superhero in Dark Avengers #1, the suit is most famously worn by Colonel James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle in the Marvel cinematic universe, in Iron Man 3. Rogers himself not only battled Iron Patriot when Osborne donned the armor, but also wore it in the animated feature Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United. While Iron Patriot may have the look and the name in the bag, the character’s hodgepodge history of good and evil may keep him from being the #1 superhero patriot.
7. Wonder Woman
Between her patriotic uniform, warrior princess status and demigoddess abilities, Wonder Woman is the ideal patriot in many ways. Originally created in 1941 in All Star Comics #8 as one of many star-spangled creations to inspire a nation at war, she has since become one of the most popular superheroes of all time. The character has had her own TV show and will soon be the subject of a Warner Bros. DC cinematic feature, which is scheduled to be released in June 2017.
Although she is obviously the most patriotic citizen of Theyscira, her Amazonian-inhabited home island, Wonder Woman could easily be considered the most patriotic superhero in the United States as well. In addition to her virtual indestructibility, healing powers, super strength and keen senses, Wonder Woman also has a strong sense of justice and equality. Her costume works on both Amazonian and American levels, and she has never shied away from criticizing the United States for its flaws while attempting to repair them, something that a true patriot should be willing to do.
6. Captain Britain
Arguably the most patriotic superhero in the United Kingdom, Captain Britain was invented to be the Captain America of the United Kingdom. Originally released in 1976 in Captain Britain Weekly #1, he was specifically created to not fight crime based on his own morals system, but to uphold the laws of England like a superhero cop. His uniform is even designed with the Buckingham Palace guard uniforms in mind, giving Brian Braddock a very “God save the Queen” look.
The magical powers bestowed upon him by the wizard Merlyn enable him to fly and have super speed and strength, making him a bit more impressive than Steve Rogers. He also relies upon his costume for his powers, which symbolizes the powers and duties that come with wearing a military uniform, the ultimate patriotic outfit. During the Age of Ultron, Braddock sacrifices himself alongside Captain Marvel, after which Dr. Faiza Hussain becomes Captain Britain.
5. Black Panther
Introduced to the silver screen this year, Black Panther was the first black superhero in the big titles run by American comics, debuting in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. Unlike most of the other heroes, T’Challa is actually the leader of an entire nation. Like Cap, he is willing to die for his country, Wakanda, but he takes his patriotism even further by living every breath for his nation. Everything he says is even in support of his country. When he became chief of the Panther clan, he gained superpowers from a Wakandan herb. It gave him panther-like reflexes as well as endurance and strength. He is also a brilliant scientist, who uses his many resources not for personal gain, but for Wakanda.
Black Panther even annulled his own marriage to Storm of the X-Men in order to put Wakanda first in his life. While many heroes accepted new opportunities and perks that came with their mantles, T’Challa made sacrifices in order to be the best king he was able to be by his own set of high standards.
Like Captain America, Guardian is a hero who relies on his patriotism and indestructible shield in order to fight crime. He was the DC Comics version of Captain America, published one year after his release. Readers first became acquainted with the blue and yellow-clad hero in Star-Spangled Comics #7 in 1942. His abilities were limited to hand-to-hand combat, gymnastics and tactical skills, but his clone also had a healing factor, super strength and superior reflexes. The only weapons he relied on were his shield and helmet.
Guardian, whose real name was Jim Harper, served his country through both his day job as a cop and his nighttime activities as a vigilante who took care of the criminals his city refused to prosecute. Harper made sacrifices for his country, from taking on a group of kids known as the Newsboy Legion as their legal guardian and mentor, to ultimately dying in the line of duty.
3. Union Jack
Three different characters have taken on the role as Union Jack, serving the British forces during World War I, World War II and the present day. Union Jack, or Joseph Chapman, first debuted as Lord James Falsworth in The Invaders #7 in 1976. A type of super soldier, Union Jack has much in common with Captain Britain, from his uniform proudly sporting the British flag to his staunch defense of the “common man” of Britain. He is skilled in both armed and unarmed combat and gained a tiger-like agility after using the Super-Soldier Serum. The serum also granted him super strength and speed.
Formerly an art student, Union Jack has also spent many pages battling the vampires of Europe, including Baron Blood, whom he defeated with Captain America himself. Falsworth is the first chronologically gay character in Marvel comics as well as the first gay character in the Marvel Avengers Academy mobile game.
A member of the Justice Society of America, Stargirl began her career as a superhero to simply annoy her stepfather. Once she got serious about the role and started using the Cosmic Staff, a tool among the most powerful weapons in DC comics, she served as a fresh-faced, energetic symbol of America with her patriotic uniform and eager acceptance of the power it brings. Courtney Whitmore made her first appearance as Stargirl in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 in 1999.
While Stargirl does not have the lengthy backstory many other patriotic superheroes possess or spout fierce declarations of national honor, her youthful vitality and charisma, coupled with her all-American look, make her a great representation of new patriotism in America among the younger generations. She also represents many aspects of America, from the conflict of family, such as her relationship with her stepfather, to the love of family, stemming from her creation. The inspiration for the character came from Geoff Johns’ sister Courtney, who was killed in a plane explosion.
Wade Wilson is the world’s favorite antihero right now, and not just because of his good looks. Deadpool made over $778 million worldwide after a heavy campaign of tongue-in-cheek ads, suggestive Valentine’s Day memes and more than a few warnings to not take children to see the film that parents still managed to both disregard and exhibit outrage over. Like the comics, the film was full of the series’ trademark gore and foul language, two things that the world eats up.
Although Deadpool is Canadian, he might as well have an honorary U.S. superhero status not only from murdering dead presidents and saving the country from zombie Lincoln, Taft and Washington, but also being the “merc with a mouth” and living the life so many people want. He’s an inspiration; who doesn’t dream of saving peoples’ lives, cheating death and regenerating old body parts while making the big bucks? Although he is known for eating chimichangas rather than apple pies, Pool may be the most patriotic superhero without even trying, because he is living the American dream.