Aaron Fischer will make his debut in the forthcoming comic series The United States of Captain America which will see a group of Steve Rogers closest friends go in search of his famous shield. On their journey, they will meet others who have used the name Captain America to better their communities.
Teenage Fischer, despite not having any powers, protects homeless youngsters and will be the first-ever LGBTQ+ character to be Captain America. “Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life,” said writer Aaron Trujillo, adding: “He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten. I hope his debut story resonates with readers and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.”
Captain America, thanks largely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is an iconic character known all around the world so this bold new direction for the Captain American brand is a welcome step and another example of the superhero genre being more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ than many other areas of popular culture.
Depressingly, this inspiring move from Marvel has been met with derision from the American right-wing. If you search for tweets about the story at the moment you’ll see a mix of many people who are delighted with the news and others who can’t believe what they are hearing.
Take for instance the pro-Trump network Newsmax, who in a segment on the story asked ‘what is the world coming to?’ and claimed the United States is ‘going bananas’ over a comic book character being gay.
Elsewhere, the controversial Lowder with Crowder podcast, which has recently seen videos removed from YouTube for violating Covid policies, mocked the decision and suggested the character would get AIDS.
We really shouldn’t be surprised that conservatives are so up in arms about this and willing to make such tasteless remarks but it did get us thinking about the history of the Captain America character and why certain sectors of society weren’t as vocal when Marvel made much more controversial decisions.
Let’s take you back to 2017 and a comic event called ‘Secret Empire’ which will probably go down as the single most controversial Captain America story ever.
To cut a long story short it is revealed during the arc that Rogers hasn’t been the proud American who stands up for what’s right at all. He’s actually been a secret Nazi agent working for Hydra, a more extreme offshoot of Hitler’s party and is arch-enemy, all along.
There was a strong backlash to this story from readers who petitioned Marvel to reverse the changes that had been made to their hero. There was further controversy due to the anti-Semitic connotations of some of the series’ covers.
Furthermore, this storyline emerged not long after Sam Wilson aka The Falcon was named as the new Captain America. The backlash against this decision was even greater than what we have seen against the gay Captain America. The likes of Fox News and Breitbart were up in arms about Wilson being a more liberal Captain America where as some couldn’t comprehend that the iconic hero could be a Black man. Some even suggested the decision to make Cap a Hydra agent was in reaction to the racist backlash.
In a piece for Tablet by Black rabbi, activist and writer Shais Rishon titled ‘The New Nazi Captain America Is the Hero That Bigoted Comic Book Fans Deserve’, he wrote “People can accept a 90-plus-year-old WWII veteran kicking and punching everything into submission just because he was frozen in a block of ice, or that men completely naked from head to toe—and silver—can traverse the universe on a surfboard, but let a Black guy become Captain America?”
While conservatives were happy to be angry about a Black man being Captain America there wasn’t much uproar about the character being a Nazi despite fans hating the story. We don’t want to draw conclusions but the optics aren’t great.
Eventually, Cap was restored to his normal self and it has mostly never been mentioned since (the story was even mocked during Avengers: Endgame) but it’s not been forgotten by fans. Some have suggested that those upset about the gay version of the character might have preferred the more right-wing incarnation.
Conservatives have had their worlds rocked recently after a series of pop culture characters such as Dr Seuss, Mr Potato Head and The Muppets have been corrected or censored (or as they would say ‘cancelled’) to make them more up to date with the modern world.
It would appear again that the thought of having a slightly diverse superhero that reflects the world in 2021 is just too much to bear for some.