Role Model or Menace? Book Considers Captain America’s Cultural Legacy

Captain America has fought Nazis, Communists and upheld American ideals for nearly 70 years, but is he the right hero for our era?

Written by Cory Chandler

No superhero wears patriotism on his sleeve quite like Captain America.

Decked out in his signature stars and stripes, the Cap has fought Nazis, Communists and upheld American ideals through comic books and cartoons for nearly 70 years.

But is he truly a hero for this cynical age? Is his country-first mentality a positive example for today’s jaded youth, or has he become the troubling embodiment of America’s muscle-flexing foreign policies in the post-9/11 world?

Rob Weiner, pop-culture author, guru and an associate humanities librarian for the Texas Tech University Libraries, decided to examine the character’s legacy in light of his highly-publicized assassination in 2007.

His book, “Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero: Critical Essays,” goes deeper under the mask and into the psyche of the shield-bearing patriot than perhaps any other work written on the subject.

“The book takes a look at Captain America as a cultural icon,” Weiner said. “He is arguably the most patriotic superhero, and represents what America can and should be.

I wanted to create a forum where scholars from all disciplines could treat him as a focal point for scholarly discourse.”

Weiner invited scholars including historians, political scientists and art professors to delve into more than 60 years of Captain America comics, dissecting the writers and story arcs to consider how such a symbolically charged character can impact popular culture.

The result is a work that uses Captain America comics as a lens to study America’s shifting political attitudes, race and class struggles, international relations and ideological ambiguities.

“Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero: Critical Essays” is published by McFarland and available through Amazon.

Weiner has expertise on topics ranging from the Grateful Dead to American presidents in film. His previous book, Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide, is an exhaustive 385-page reference work on the universe of Captain America, Spidey, Iron Man and The Fantastic Four.

CONTACT: Rob Weiner, associate humanities librarian, Texas Tech University Libraries, (806) 742-2238 ext. 282, or