Captain America (Image via Marvel)
1. Captain America
Of course, it was always going to be Captain America. Cap embodies some of the best things about American culture. Well, at least if you ignore some of the twisty-turny stunts Marvel has been pulling recently.
Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, was actually born on July 4, 1920. With a birthday like that, you’re already primed to become some sort of Old Glory-waving superhero. Though he’s a weak, sickly young man, Rogers tries to join in World War II. However, he’s too weak to do any real work.
Steve’s so dedicated that he’s willing to undergo an experimental super soldier serum treatment. Similar treatments would produce mixed results for the likes of Nuke and Wolverine. Happily, though, Rogers got lucky. He was transformed into a muscle-bound good guy, capable of beating up villains and surviving decades frozen in ice. That now-iconic red, white, and blue uniform was simply icing on the very patriotic cake.
Like many superheroes, Captain America occasionally undergoes a crisis of conscience and discards his title. He was some groovy guy called Nomad for a while, though thankfully that didn’t last too long. Rogers even “died” during the more recent Civil War comics event — though, as we all know ad nauseum, practically no one really dies in comics. He was back in due time.
At his best, Rogers embodies the nobility and righteousness that U.S. culture idealizes. It’s not always an easy path, and certainly, Captain America has made some serious missteps. Still, he ultimately does the right thing, even when it is difficult. We can all hope to be that honorable.