With the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier less than a week away, I finally found some time to sit down and read the original comic. “What’s that?” you say, “The Editor-in-Chief of this site hadn’t read one of the most seminal Captain America comics to come out in the last decade? Surely that can’t be!” Well, I’ve read it now. But I once I finished it, I started to wonder why hadn’t I read The Winter Soldier sooner.
Whenever I think of Captain America, I think of him as a leader. Whether it’s his World War II commandos, the Avengers, or any of the assorted team-ups he’s been a part of over the years, I always think of Cap as being at the front of a group. So it should come as no surprise that two of my favourite Captain America stories are Secret Wars and Civil War. When I finally sat down to read The Winter Soldier, I realised it was the first time I’d read a solo Captain America comic. Because I don’t think Captain America is really all that interesting on his own.
Captain America is a rallying point, a symbol, and his true power isn’t his super strength or agility, but being able to recognise the skills and abilities of others and how they should be used. Anyone who fights under his leadership becomes that much more effective in combat. Just look at the difference in tactics between Iron Man and Captain America’s armies in Civil War. Iron Man’s side is all about bringing out the biggest guns and the biggest numbers; the Thor clone is proof enough that their strategy relies on brute force, not to mention the villainous Thunderbolts. Captain America, on the other hand, uses everyone who comes to him perfectly; whether its having Punisher use his special ops training to break into the Baxter Building or exploiting Namor’s feelings for Sue Storm to bolster his numbers, he always knows exactly what everyone should be doing.
So when it came to The Winter Soldier and seeing Cap fight all on his own, I wasn’t really interested. That’s what people seem to forget about Captain America, he’s not a soldier, he’s a Captain, a leader, a tactician. Captain America was the one calling out orders during the Battle of New York, telling everyone from the NYPD to the Hulk just what they needed to do. And his plan worked, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his was the most interesting side of the fight. He is the one you want to follow into battle, but not always the one you want to follow in the story.
So now you’re probably all wondering whether I’m looking forward to The Winter Soldier. And you know what? I am! For one thing, I enjoyed The First Avenger, despite its shortcomings. It showcased both sides of Captain America, the lone wolf and the leader of the pack. And The Winter Soldier will probably do the same; afterall, Cap will be fighting alongside Black Widow and Falcon, not to mention assorted S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. And I think that will make the film version of The Winter Soldier more appealing than the comic. Because the only thing better than seeing Captain America win the day is seeing Captain America lead a team to win the day.
What do you think? Is Captain America an interesting character on his own or at his best when he is leading a group? Will the new movie be true to the comics or will we see some Avengers assemble? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter.