Friday, March 29, 2013

Top 10 "Captain"-Named Superheroes

Aside of “Man” (e.g. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Power Man), “Captain” is probably the most archetypal or common word attached on a superhero name.   Having the “Captain” in his name doesn’t necessarily mean he has this particular military or maritime title (though there are some in this list who does have the appropriate military background for it), but it does imply that this superhero has some chops as a leader and/or is an “A-list” type of superhero. 


To start this list, let’s have a Hanna-Barbera character, who is an obvious gag of the whole “slapping ‘Captain’ on the superhero’s name” thing.  So with “Captain” preceding “Caveman”, we get a superhero from the Stone Age.  Simple eye-roll inducing superhero christening.  Anyway, I still find Captain Caveman a fun character when I was a kid, especially because of his ability to pull different objects hidden in his hairy body and hilariously crashing whenever he flies (because of losing “energy”). 


Captain Hammer might be a “superhero” but he serves as the antagonist (the only antagonist in this list) of the terrific musical short film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  Being a narcissist, Captain Hammer’s “heroic” actions are more for the sake of feeding his vanity and ego.  Despite of this, he is easily a likable character – probably because of actor Nathan Fillion’s charm and how the story’s climax used Captain Hammer’s super-strength as an illustration to introduce a thought-provoking facet of the said super power: to be invulnerable, due to super strength, means having the whole concept of pain foreign to the one bearing this power; thus, having no idea of what pain is gives him a low tolerance for pain that when he feels it for the first time – no matter how minor – since he’s not used to what pain is and has developed no idea on dealing with it, he will be completely overwhelmed by the feeling, causing massive trauma.      


Captain Commando is one of the most fascinating video game characters I’ve encountered as a kid.  I love his self-titled game and he’s one of my favorite characters in the Marvel vs. Capcom game.  Captain Commando is supposed to be a futuristic superhero that fights super-powered crime.  He possesses several gadgets, most notably his “Energy Gloves” which allows him to shoot fire and electricity bolts.  He attaches the word “Captain” in all his techniques, like “Captain Kick”, “Captain Cannon”, “Captain Goggles”, etc.  Now doing this is absolutely corny, but these techniques however are highly invaluable and his fire and electricity attacks are powerfully badass.  He is assisted by the “Commando Team” which is made up of a mummy, a ninja, and a baby piloting a mecha. 


Captain Atom is said to be the inspiration of the nigh omnipotent character in Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan, hence, the almost similar origin stories, powers, and character appearance.  Captain Atom is probably one of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe because of his ability to absorb and manipulate infinite amounts of energy to a near limitless extent.  He can manifest the energy he stores through a variety of ways like flight, super strength, self-sustenance, projection of energy attacks in various forms, and even the conversion of energy into matter.  He is also an actual holder of a “captain” rank, being a former Air Force soldier.      


This superhero is somewhat unique.  Captain Universe is not a superhero dependent on a single identity.  Rather, the Captain Universe character is a merger of the Uni-Power, an extra-dimensional force, and its chosen host.  The Uni-Power would impose the power and costume of Captain Universe to a worthy host whenever a severe crisis or threat is at hand.  After the crisis is resolved, the Uni-Mind would usually leave the host immediately, returning the host to his or her status quo.  Dr. Strange (combining with the Micronaut leader, Commander Arcturus Rann), Spider-Man, the Hulk, a toddler, a dog, an astronaut, a small-time crook, and even a pair of identical twins are some of those chosen to become Captain Universe in the past to deal with a situation.  Captain Universe possesses immense amount of power and his (or her) abilities include superhuman strength, flight, time travel, telekinesis, highly enhanced senses, and unlimited projection and supply of energy.  An African-American woman named Tamara Devoux is the current Captain Universe and is, surprisingly, a member of the current roster of Avengers.  It’s still not yet fully revealed what is this Captain Universe’s mission and why she had joined the Avengers.    


Whenever the Planeteers found themselves on a tight corner or in a fight that they couldn’t win on their own, they combine their elemental ring powers – earth, fire, wind, water, and heart (which is supposed to be the element of emotion, if I understood it right) – to summon Captain Planet, who possesses all of these elemental powers magnified (as what the end song of the show said).  Captain Planet has various abilities, which includes weather control; flight; invisibility; telepathy; and fire, water, wind, and earth projection and manipulation.  His power increases whenever he gets in contact with nature or pure, clean forms of natural elements (i.e. clean water, sunlight, lava, etc.).  But despite of being a powerful hero, he is also greatly vulnerable to pollution.  Captain Planet fights in the same way as Spider-Man and Buffy: he makes quips, puns, taunts, and wisecracks during action or combat (probably the main reason I started to like the character).         


Though Captain Britain has been meant to be the UK counterpart of Captain America, the character has been able to separate himself from being a mere Captain America rip-off and had made a name for himself as a distinctive and interesting superhero.  Despite of having ties with Science as a brilliant physicist, Captain Britain’s powers, however, originated from magical sources – specifically, Merlyn (yes, an obvious reference to Merlin).  He has the usual package of typical superhero abilities – flight; and superhuman speed, stamina, strength, senses, agility, reflexes, etc. – as well as being able to create force fields.  At the present, Captain Britain’s power is dependent on his confidence and emotions.  Thus, whenever he feels confident, he’s powerful, but whenever he begins to doubt himself, his power grows weaker.  Aside of becoming a prominent member of British superhero teams like Excalibur (UK’s X-Men counterpart) and MI-13 (UK’s S.H.I.E.L.D./Avengers counterpart), Captain Britain had also been an Avenger and is an automatic member of the Captain Britain Corps, a group of superheroes made up of the different Captain Britains of different universes or realities whose purpose is to serve as guardians of the Multiverse.


There had been various supeheroes in Marvel Comics that had taken the name of “Captain Marvel”.  My most favorite among them is the most recent “Captain Marvel”: Carol Danvers, who had been Ms. Marvel for most of her superhero career.  I admit that it’s probably because I greatly adore Ms. Marvel – the most badass female Avenger, in my opinion (wish she’s on the next Avengers movie) – and am apathetic with those different male Captain Marvels.  Recently, she decided to take the mantle of “Captain Marvel” for herself to carry on the legend of the original Captain Marvel (the Kree, Mar-Vell).  And I totally dig this development.  We always assume that a “Captain” superhero should be male when being a “Captain” is not at all limited to males.  Females can have the title of “Captain” as well.  So kudos to whoever had this idea (I like the Ms. Marvel costume though over Carol’s new Captain Marvel look) to make Carol Danvers a female superhero having a “Captain” superhero name.  I strongly support any attempt – if any – of pushing Captain Marvel to become the “Wonder Woman” of Marvel Comics.  The character – when she was still Ms. Marvel – has somewhat earned it in my book. 


Chosen by the wizard Shazam to inherit his powers and be a champion for good, whenever teenage Billy Batson exclaims the wizard’s name – “Shazam!” – he is struck by a bolt of lightning and transforms into his adult alter-ego, Captain Marvel.  The word “Shazam” also serves as an acronym for Greco-Roman mythological names (with the exception of Solomon) that serve as representation of what powers Batson gains when he becomes Captain Marvel: these are Solomon (vast knowledge and wisdom), Hercules (super strength), Atlas (stamina, endurance, healing factor, invulnerability), Zeus (lightning bolts), Achilles (courage, fighting skills, invulnerability), and Mercury (super speed, flight).  Because Marvel Comics owns the trademark for the Captain Marvel title, DC’s Captain Marvel has been marketed and alternately referred to as “Shazam” for years, which would ultimately force DC to officially rename the character as “Shazam” in its recent New 52 reboot.  Despite of this, Shazam/Captain Marvel remains the most popular and most remarkable “Captain Marvel” character there has ever been (there was even a time when he was more popular than Superman, in terms of comicbook sales) in the history of comics.  


Dozens of superheroes may be out there bearing the “Captain” in their names, but there is only one “Captain” that would always stand above them all.   There is only one “Captain” that can be nicknamed and referred to as “Cap” and be distinguished above all other “Captains”.  This “Captain” is THE Captain.  In fact, there had been times Steve Rogers had taken the name of “The Captain” when his birthright superhero name, “Captain America”, is unavailable or unsuitable for use. 

Spider-Man (or Wolverine) might be Marvel Comics’ most popular character but in the Marvel Universe, Captain America is “The Man” – the most respected, esteemed, admired, and beloved superhero in the Marvel U.  He is more than a superhero; he is the icon of the superhero community.   He is easily looked up to as a leader by other superheroes – particularly, the Avengers – not only because of being a superior tactician and brilliant field commander (due to his military background), but also because he has the innate ability to inspire others and bring out the best in them. 

Captain America is selfless, bold, noble, and extremely loyal to the ideas, morals, and principles he stands for – the same ideas, morals, and principles the United States of America had been historically founded upon (which, I like to believe, is a fact and not merely a product of historical romanticism).  He would pursue a righteous objective with dogged determination and burning tenacity, and would make a stand for what he believes is right with uncompromising stubbornness, unshakable conviction, and unflinching courage; regardless if his objective or stand is against impossible odds, unpopular, or/and very costly or dangerous to do.   

Take note that Cap has no superhuman powers whatsoever.  The super-soldier serum that Steve Rogers took only gave him – who was thin and frail prior the treatment he had undergone – a physique that is the zenith of what a human body can attain.  Any physical strength, athleticism, conditioning, and stamina he gained are only that of the extent of what’s humanly possible.  Thus, he is closer to the Batman-type of superhero (no super powers) than to the Superman-type (with super powers).  The difference is Batman attained the apex of human physicality through brutal exercise while Cap attained it through a serum.  However, this doesn’t mean that Captain America is no hard worker.  Not at all.  Captain America became one of the most skilled and deadly combatants in the Marvel Universe because of rigorous and intensive training.  He studied different fighting disciplines and martial arts, assimilating them into his own fighting style, which incorporates the use of his formidable trademark shield.        

Superman is Captain America’s counterpart in DC Universe as the icon that all other superheroes look up to.  Yes, Superman is one of the most heroic of superheroes; uncompromising, morally steadfast, brave in facing threats and danger, selflessly putting himself in harm’s way to protect others, etc.  But Superman is a very powerful superhero. Supes is bullet-proof, nigh invulnerable.  Captain America, however, has these heroic convictions that Superman has and does these heroic things that Superman does despite having no superpowers at all.  He is mortal.  He is not bullet-proof.  And, if you look at it in this light, that is more impressive.  Captain America is sheer heart, guts, and badassery.   

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