On the brink of the destruction, the U.S. needed the united factor, a symbol that could show people the right model of the behavior to induce them to bring the great nation back at the global stage. This idea was realized with the help of superhero characters in the books of the comic genre. The comic superhero was firstly described in 1938 and became a great hit that has further led to the occurrence of such characters as Captain America, Batman, Sub Mariner, and Wonder Woman, to name a few. After the entrance of the U.S. into the World War II, the superheroes began to personify the patriotic mood of the country. Thus, the work analyzes the implications of the national identity traits in the images of Captain America and Batman, including patriotism, fearlessness, and culture of America that was embodied in their fight with Nazis and keeping the values that strengthened the nation.
The first hero, Capitan America, manifested a defensive nature of the country, which during the World War II, persistently fought for the justice and supported the state’s cultural aspects to show the whole nation an example of the proper behavior. The slogan of that time was that a great man will definitely defeat the Nazis. Even the cover of the Capitan America #1 depicts a hero who, bursting into the room full of Nazis, punches Adolf Hitler across the face. In such a form, the author brings the sense of realism through the comic context. From the first pages, we see the hero in the chair of the great official whose duty was to protect the people. Capitan America vividly represented the current culture that has helped people to understand the position within the collective identity and geopolitical narrative. At the first part of the book, Capitan America was described during the period when the U.S. only entered the World War II. The book showed that ruthless Europe came to the peace-loving America. The character was identified as a territorial symbol of the country because he wore the white-red-and-blue star uniform.
The elements of the national identity are also represented in the description the geopolitical mood of the America through the defensive nature of the hero. In that time, the U.S. acted as the adherent of security rather than the offender. In the book, the Capitan is described as a reluctant patriot. The protagonist says that he hates war that is a senseless bloodshed, but he cannot stay aside when other people are fighting. However, the hero was described not with the weapon but with the shield that evidenced the geopolitical script of the U.S. The character threw the shield as a weapon and has always come back to him.
The part of the book when the hero revives after the freezing in 1963 emphasizes the historical changes embodied in the impressions and comments of the captain. He told that he felt himself like a relic, a holdover from dismal and dim past. The character was disappointed that people still have not taught to live in friendship with neighbors. However, he noticed the significant progress as explicit evidence of the development of the country. The narrative subject manner changes to the adventures that also implied the changes the country experienced.
At the same time, the elements of the nation’s identify were represented in the clearly expressed hero’s position concerning the student’s riot that was directed against the police officers. He was strongly against the use of force or violence in solving such problems. The Captain also fought for the gender and race rights that were a crucial issue of those years. Thus, the authors with the help of the character described not only positive sides of the country and its political regime but also represented the problematic aspect faced by the nation. Captain America sincerely worried about the nation based on his words regarding the terrorist’s acts of 9/11. The hero asked the country not to forget about the small towns and never involve children in the war. In the scene where children fought with the metal prosthetic arms, he said that it is unacceptable to sacrifice the children as to the war and asked Tariq to call the children back. The hero acknowledged that America had sins, but they were not so sufficient enough to legitimize the terrorist activities. The book ended with the Capitan’s death. Some comics compare the death of the hero with the death of the America’s dreams. The other comics consider that Capitan did not want to be associated with Steve Rogers and that death was Steve’s but not Capitan’s. The hero continued to live. Before the death, he told that it is possible to destroy the man, or the army, but it is impossible to destroy the symbol and dream.
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The second hero of America, who eloquently expressed the national identity, was Batman, a famous character of the 1960s and 1980s. Batman, similarly to Captain America, was positioned as the betterman of the society, but his popularity was of greater scale. This hero also had no weapon and, as Capitan America, fought with the bad forces using the specific human skills, such as detective mastery, scientific knowledge, and physical power. From the first pages, the hero was represented as a fighter for justice and was often persecuted by police officers. The character operated as free of the institutional and procedural restraints. Batman aptly noted, “If you can’t beat them inside the law, you must beat them “outside” it . . . and there is where I come in!” (Katz 7).
The national affiliation was emphasized with help of description the current trend in America that was reflected in the activity of gangs. Batman emerged as a fresh force that tried to fight with the violence and this process was oftentimes above the law. Such tactic was used for emphasizing the social situation in the U.S. and made the hero significantly different from Captain America who, during all his activities, supported the law (Cortiel and Oehme 17). However, Batman, as a previous hero, also appeared as a response to the World War II and his actions were the fight against the Nazi pots.
The similar aspect of both heroes’ national identity was personal changes caused by the turbulent time. In the same way to the first hero, Batman experienced the rebirth after which the character looked differently on the surrounding world and changed his tactic by destroying the criminals in a sophisticated manner. The superhero started to work within the law and became the member of the Gotham police force. Thus, the comics’ idol expressed the nationalistic mood promoting the values, proper behavior, and appropriate manners showing how the Americans should act in the society. The author also depicted the blooming economy times of the U.S. that resulted in the numerous cases of drug addiction, especially spread of cocaine abuse. The character showed the social standards that slowly diminished. The same aspect was reflected in the episodes of Captain America where the children fought.
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The nationalistic motives were also reflected in the fight of Batman with the Mutant Gang. The gang was represented as a frightening potential ruler and Batman had to overthrow the quest for dominance in the same type of frightening potential. Miller used the gang as a representative plover of the 1980s Cold War propaganda where the journals and books depicted the terrifying future of America under Communism. Before fighting for the justice, the hero has constantly said to his gang that he was a law. Batmen, just like Captain America, was against the murder and has always told that killing is like paralyzing the enemy. In contrast, his aim was to teach and show what is right and how the enemy should act. His famous quote was: “The army should bring sense to the world plagued by worse than thieves and murderers” (Katz 11). After the Batman’s activity, New York has become one of the safest cities. The author shows that when people start to fright for justice, the entire nation will get safe and decent life. Both heroes, Batman and Captain, stay alive, though the captain in minds of people and Batman continued to fret and strut his hour upon the stage.
The analysis of the critical literature evidenced the significance of the superhero’s existence for the cultural development and strengthening of the country’s values. The national identity embodied in the images of both characters was expressed in their stance for justice and patriotism. It is important to note that both heroes had a personal position and not always agreed with the policy of the country. The time changed, and this factor was also reflected in the characters. Nonetheless, in spite of many new obstacles, they did not stop their activism and have always gone forward in overcoming the numerous obstacles that taught the nation never stop the fight for the rights and development of the country. Regardless of that Captain America was not as popular as Batman, both characters are outstanding heroes that embodied the fight of the country for the better future for the whole nation and stayed in memories of all people as thea national symbols.
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