For him, it is a contempt for the memory and the work of Jack Kirby.
Captain America was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon during the height of World War II. A protagonist of commercial comics, the hero has become a symbol of American patriotism, gaining space in television, film and other media in addition to comics. However, many of the hero’s ideals have been overturned and appropriated in other contexts, such as the Jan.6 invasion of Capitol Hill by supporters of Donald Trump.
In a statement sent to Jake Tapper, an American CNN presenter, Neal Kirby – son of the artist responsible for creating the Liberty Watch – spoke about the Capitol invaders who appropriated Captain America’s symbols during the attack. For him, who is already 72 years old and has witnessed several revolutions and rebellions, it is an extremely frightening moment in the history of the United States:
“My father, Jack Kirby, along with his partner Joe Simon, created Captain America in 1941. Perhaps the greatest symbol of patriotism since ‘The Spirit of 1776’, Captain America has become an icon and protector of our democracy and our laws for 79 years. He was brought up by two New York Jews who hated Nazis and bullies. Captain America always stood up for the weaker, and as history has been written, long before he gained his super strength from Army scientists, he always stood up for what was right, never backing down. At 72 years old, I have very vivid memories of all the political and cultural upheavals since the [Fidel] Castro in the mid-1950s. With the stories of my father, I could probably paint the war camps in northern France near the city of Metz during WWII. However, the events that took place on our nation’s Capitol on January 6 were an insurgency inspired and encouraged by our own president, and it is an event that will haunt me forever.
In sequence, Neal went on to explain how he found shirts and other pieces comparing Donald Trump to Captain America. He explained why the current US president is completely different from the character created by his father, and how these comparisons are disrespectful of the work of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon:
“Watching one of the terrible videos of the Capitol attack, I thought I saw someone wearing a Trump / Captain America shirt. I was appalled and mortified. I think I quickly saw someone with a Captain America shield. A quick google search and I found Trump shirts like Captain America, posters and even a flag! These images are disgusting and devastating. Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump. Where Captain America is altruistic, Trump is egocentric. Where Captain America fights for our country and democracy, Trump fights for personal power and autocracy. Where Captain America fights alongside ordinary men, Trump stands alongside the powerful and privileged. Where Captain America is brave, Trump is a coward. Captain America and Donald Trump couldn’t be more different. My dad, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be completely disgusted to see these images. These images are an insult to their memories. If Donald Trump had the qualities and character of Captain America, the White House would be a shining symbol of truth and integrity, not a rotten pit of lies and hypocrisy. Many of our presidents had the same values as Captain America. Donald Trump is not one of them. “
At this time, Marvel has not commented on the use of Captain America and other of his characters in the January 6 terrorist acts.
The issue is taken very seriously in the United States, with the invaders officially listed as terrorists on American soil. When it comes to the relationship between this topic and entertainment, Captain America is just another fitting symbol for such people. The Punisher is also being targeted by a similar move, with the antihero’s skull being used as a “glorious symbol,” which many Marvel writers are opposed to.
Below, remember 10 Marvel characters who carried Captain America’s shield: