Captain America & Punisher – America Then & Now

This is something that I’ve thought quite a bit about before and just pushed to the back burner of my mind. Earlier today though, it jumped back to the front when I saw a post of a panel from Civil War and added it to my Instagram account. The panel in question is this one here…

Now, I sent this to some friends of mine, one of them, Ben, is a huge fan of the Netflix Punisher series with Jon Bernthal in the title role. His exact reaction was ” Cap needs to stop being a baby”. He then went on to say that “Cap wears America on his Chest! He’s representing America. Frank represents death”; which to be clear, Frank represents Punishment and not death, but that’s a whole separate issue.

The interesting thing that I’ve thought about for some time is that these two people represent the same thing, America, just at different points in history. Cap represents the America that used to be. The one all generations look up to, the one that Jeff Daniels speaks about in this clip from The Newsroom

Captain America represents the country that used to fight for what was right and always protected those that couldn’t do it themselves. They were strong and they knew it, but they also didn’t flaunt it. Granted, I am not an American, I am a proud Canadian, but as someone who has learned probably more American history than any other, the comparison is uncanny.

Frank represents the state of America as it is today. The distrust of all those that don’t follow the word of the law, the unrelenting crusade to make everyone pay for a tragedy that happened to them years ago; he shoots first and ask questions later and never relents in his mission. And despite of everything that he does, he believes he is in the right and doesn’t regret anything he does. Seriously, he is one of the 6 people in all of Marvel comics that Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare doesn’t work on because he doesn’t regret a single thing he ever did.

Now, despite Frank’s insane crusade to rid the world of crime, he also has a strict moral code. He very much respects Captain America and what he represents and will obey his order without question. He also refuses to raise a fist to Captain America because he views him as the one truly good person in the entire pantheon of Marvel heroes. Even when Cap was beating him in the Civil War comic after he had executed two viallins ( Goldbug and Plunderer) right in front of the Secret Avengers, Frank refused to raise a hand to Cap.

This scene mirrors how modern Americans view the older generation that came before them, particularly those who fought in WWII. The men and women who helped to free Europe from the tyranny and fascism of the Nazi regime are heroes, there’s no doubt about that. They are held in such a high respect that they will never be bad mouthed or disobeyed (figuratively). But they are part of a dying belief in what America is, there are people of note trying to bring back the America that used to be, but they are having a hard time fighting against the far right and their blatant racist beliefs.

I don’t mean to sound preachy, Canada is far from perfect, we all know that, but the massive shift in our neighbours directly to the south is something that the entire world has taken note of and finds very concerning.

I personally would feel better knowing we have Captain America next to us rather than the Punisher…

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