In Marvel Comics’ new United States of Captain America, Steve Rogers explains that he believes there are two American Dreams…and one lie.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for United States of Captain America #1
In Marvel Comics’ new United States of Captain America series, Steve Rogers’ Captain America explains the specific American Dream he’s always fought for. Not only that, but he’s come to believe that there are actually two prevalent American Dreams…and one American Lie. While many have coopted his symbol and shield for their own ends over the years, Captain America himself has felt as though he’s been hiding behind his shield recently, rather than confronting some of the systemic problems plaguing the country head-on. As a result, when Captain America’s physical shield is stolen in this first issue, Rogers will apparently be looking to reclaim his iconic shield in more ways than one.
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United States of Captain America #1 comes from writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Dale Eaglesham, seeing Rogers cleaning his shield before it appears as a centerpiece at a new exhibit at the Smithsonian. While he polishes his iconic weapon that carries so much symbolism, he narrates about his recent struggles with the American Dream as it relates to the actual reality of the modern-day. What kind of American Dream does Steve Rogers fight for? How has it become compromised? What is he doing in response?
According to Captain America, there are actually two American Dreams and one American Lie that currently exist. The first is the one that many think is handed to them, which is effectively the white-picket-fence ideal of Americana which angers people when it becomes unattainable for a variety of reasons. In Rogers’ mind, that dream isn’t real and never was, as it doesn’t integrate itself well with the reality of those who are from other cultures, poor, or suffering (those who eventually become seen as “Un-American”). Furthermore, this leads to the first dream not being shared with all, which then makes it the American Lie, a promise of a dream that proves itself to be empty. This brings Captain America to the second American Dream that he does believe in: the one that isn’t ever truly possessed.
The American Dream that Steve Rogers believes in is the dream that is worked and fought for, the ongoing struggle to maintain and defend the nation and its freedoms for all. However, Rogers had also been struggling: “I find myself too often stripped of what I’m supposed to stand for“. Not only is it easy for others to repurpose his symbol and shield for their own agendas, but he’s also an easy target for when things get hard. That being said, Rogers doesn’t feel as though he’s blameless. Captain America has been questioning if he’s been the cause of more division than unification as of late, feeling as though he’s been hiding behind his shield and symbol.
While it’s very interesting to learn about the specific type of American Dream Captain America fights for, it’s evident that he still has a lot of work ahead of him, which is the whole point. Captain America’s Dream is consistently fought for, and it’s clear that Rogers wants to better himself in this new limited series. As a result, now that a mysterious imposter has stolen his shield, it’s the perfect opportunity for Captain America to not only recalim his shield, but also reclam what it stands for and what it’s meant to be. With America poised to celebrate another Independence Day on July 4th, Captain America has just provided a very poignant message about the American Dream, and not just for the Marvel Universe.
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