If you have been paying attention to the most recent comic book news, then you’ve probably heard a good amount of fan outrage towards the latest twist regarding Captain America. In fact, outrage is something of an understatement: fandoms pretty much tore into the latest plot twist in which the now rejuvenated super soldier has been a double agent for the organization known as HYDRA for quite a long time. Considering the origins of the hero and the beliefs that he stands for, it makes a lot of sense that we as readers would react in such a way, feeling somewhat betrayed by a character who stood for everything that was morally good. However, while this criticism is understandable, I can’t help but feel that there are certain aspects of this controversy that are prematurely being blown out of proportion, attacking the events of a storyline when we don’t even know what will happen next. Just as a book shouldn’t be judged by its first chapter nor a movie by its trailer, CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 should not be judged by its story content, controversial as it may be, until the very end.

Captain America is undoubtedly the most morally good of all the Marvel heroes and is only matched in this selflessness by Superman himself. These characteristics made him something of a role model to readers, and while his whole “perfect American” feature never really interested me all that much, I still respected his character and what he represented. That’s why it surprised me that Chris Evans’ portrayal of Steve Rogers would become my favorite character in the MCU. I was interested when they threw a man of straightforward virtue into a morally gray world, worn by nearly seventy years of change and conflict. It was not necessarily that he stood for the purest good, but rather, he stuck to what he believed was morally right. So yes, I definitely see why people are annoyed here, taking a very morally grounded character and revealing him to be in league with a very evil organization based around extreme fascist ideology is upsetting. (Fascism, not Nazism. Despite being founded by one, their policies actually do differ in acceptance and goals.) This issue also came at the worst possible time with the release of the movie Captain America: Civil War, which reinforced the idea of Rogers as a man willing to risk everything and fight for what he believes in, no matter how stacked the odds are against him. By looking at that image of the character and the legacy he stood for, seeing him reply with “Hail Hydra” with no clear signs of brainwashing or memory alteration can understandably feel like a slap in the face to many people.

captain america controversy

In addition to readers criticizing this twist as a betrayal of Steve Roger’s character, they also feel that it goes against the works of his creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Both being Jewish and having created the character in response to the rise of Nazi Germany’s power in Europe, Cap pretty much served as the vessel of every American and Jewish person who ever wanted to achieve their dream of punching Hitler in his stupid face/mustache. Being Jewish myself, I spent a lot of time discussing in Hebrew school the events of the Holocaust and the Nazi’s actions against Jews and other non-Aryan groups in quite graphic detail, mind you. So believe me when I say I understand exactly why people would use this point as a means of expressing their frustration. And, while you could probably argue against this logic by pointing out how many iconic superheroes were created by Jewish writers, Cap as a character represented the best qualities and values of humanity personified in the face of evil, both alien and human alike. So for this cliffhanger that he might have been faking those beliefs for quite some time could be seen as extremely jarring. That being said, while I understand why people have reacted the way they do, I can’t help but feel that concerning the story itself, we are making mountains out of molehills.

READ:  Check out our actual review for CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1!

For starters, let’s talk about controversy and change in comic books–when have they ever not existed? The topic of controversy varies somewhat, either because the storyline deals with topics that readers might find themselves uncomfortable dealing with (ex. alcoholism in DEMON IN A BOTTLE) or because the events that befall certain character feels downright insulting (ex. AVENGERS issue #200 or SPIDERMAN: ONE MORE DAY). Even Cap himself is no stranger to controversy, at one point ditching his identity to become the vigilante known as Nomad and even turning into a werewolf for a brief period in the 90’s (go figure). Furthermore, to act like this has been the first time a hero has gone down a villainous path is somewhat absurd, especially considering the fact that they usually became good again at some point. Jean Grey as the Phoenix, Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier, Hal Jordan as Parallax; we’ve seen instances in which beloved characters have gone off the deep end as part of an ongoing plot, most of them leading to genuinely engaging storylines. These further the idea that there are no perfect characters and that they are equally capable of succumbing to their negative emotions as much as the readers themselves, which only furthers their humanity.

This brings me to the other complaint I have against the reaction, and this one may cause some offense but still needs to be pointed out: fandoms need to stop judging properties based on minimal evidence alone. This plot twist is only the first issue of what I assume will be an entire storyline, and people are acting as if they know for sure that Marvel will fail, disowning the company before they have even made it to the next chapter. Social media plays a large part in this change with fans able to communicate with one another instantly, sharing critiques and voicing opinions about practically everything the world has to share with them. So when something shocking happens, everyone wants to discuss it with those who feel the same way. If this were the finale of a full series, criticism would make more sense as we would have enough evidence to justify our disappointment or rage at the issue. But while it is understandable that fans might feel betrayed, acting like this is the most irredeemable disaster we have ever seen in our lives feels like something of an overreaction, especially considering how many times stuff like this has been done before.

READ: Want a different perspective? Find out why some of our contributors are frustrated with this turn of events!

A good comparison to the present Steve Rogers’ controversy is the ridiculous level of outrage directed at the new Ghostbusters movie. Many fans have immediately begun expressing their outrage at the movie and how it’s going to be terrible months in advance before the movie has been released in theaters. Well, why does it suck? Because the trailers weren’t that good? While I admit they were not the best of trailers to begin with, the amount of vocal hate thrown against this movie is not just shocking, but appalling as well. For starters, trailers are very much like comic cliffhangers in the sense that they are designed to lure consumers into buying the new product; they don’t represent the product overall. So, while the trailers were not the best, the common reaction has become “the trailers aren’t good, so we know the movie will be awful,” an argument that loses its value when no one has actually seen the movie. Good movies are very much capable of having poor trailers as much as bad movies can have amazing ones, the state of their advertising not necessarily representing the quality of the final cut. Here, however, what we are seeing are somewhat toxic feelings of entitlement and ownership from the fandoms, as well as a sense of stubborn judgment based off of minimal evidence, turning what is pretty much another Hollywood reboot of a nostalgic franchise into a powder keg of hate. Could it tank? Sure, but if you’re acting like this will ruin your entire childhood for life, you are definitely blowing these issues out of proportion.

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Similarly in the comic book world, we could look at the SUPERIOR SPIDERMAN storyline as an example of an overreaction to a storyline before its completion. I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, were shocked and a bit horrified by this idea at first. “Killing Spiderman and replacing his mind with Doc Ock’s? How can you do something like this? It’ll be awful for sure!” However, in contrast to what we all thought, this turned out to be a genuinely amazing storyline, offering a look at a villain trying to be a hero but still suffering from aspects of his old life that conflict with the moral dilemmas of Peter Parker. Of course, Parker eventually came back and reclaimed his mind, but this story was undoubtedly unique in its short 31-episode run, having positive and negative effects on Spidey’s life in future story lines. Similar to the current Captain America situation, we all thought that this storyline would be a flop based on just the concept alone, panicking about such a radical change in the status quo without much evidence to back up our reasoning. So, while I would like to see them retcon Cap in a few months so that he’s back on the side of good, it isn’t right to judge this twist without seeing how the rest of the story holds up first.

And, my final point above all else towards “Captain Hydra” is actually the most simple one: this is a comic book, so anything can happen. True, the writers of this book have stated that this is the actual Captain America and not a clone or alternate self, but there is still a good chance that all this could be the result of some behind the scenes evil plan. Maybe even one by the Red Skull himself. I mean, how many times have we seen heroes turn on one another, or do questionable acts on their own, or even become the victims of villainous master plans. Considering that Steve Rogers recently aged drastically into an old man and recently reclaimed his youth, it is possible that this HYDRA twist is part of some grander scheme. While these theories don’t have any evidence yet, I doubt that the writers would be willing to scrap 70+ years of comic history just to reveal Steve Rogers as a double-agent without having some kind of catch at the end. I’m sure there is some larger story at work here, so the best advice I can give is to wait and see what will come next.

READ: Want to know the best CAPTAIN AMERICA comic storylines? Check out our CAPTAIN AMERICA Essential Reading list!

On one hand, I definitely understand why people are upset with this particular twist: how could they take the quintessential patriotic superhero and reveal him to be working for an organization based on fascist ideology? And does that mean everything he’s stood for has been a lie? On the other hand, the idea of shocking reveals and twists has always been a part of comic history since the very beginning, and this just seems to be one enormous twist in part of a much bigger story. So without any more information regarding what that story will be, I’m afraid for now I need to call out anyone who says this has ruined your childhood for good. Yes, it’s shocking beyond belief, but that’s exactly what plot twists are supposed to do, and companies like Marvel have always hyped up twists and deaths as a means of getting more readers. So let’s see how this story arc plays out and how well it’s told before bearing arms against Marvel and Nick Spencer. Because these kind of twists and cliffhangers are what makes us want to buy more comic books, and I doubt they will be stopping them anytime soon.

Other Articles I Consulted When Writing This One:

“Captain America Is Not a Nazi” from American Magazine

“Comic Fans Are Freaking Out Over The First Issue Of ‘Captain America: Steve Rogers’” from Uproxx

“Ghostbusters, Frozen, and the Strange Entitlement of Fan Culture” from The A.V. Club

“Fandom is Broken: Controversies and Entitlement Shine a Light on a Deeply Troubling Side of Fandom.” from Birth. Movies. Death.

“Fandom Isn’t ‘Broken’—It’s Just Not Only For White Dudes Anymore” from Fusion

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