Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn. Oliver Twist. The Artful Dodger. Tarzan. Rhett Butler. Scarlett O’Hara. Peter Pan. Alice in Wonderland. To some of us, characters like these, and their many, many young siblings, are more real than the people we work with, go to school with or meet on the street. Their images are indelibly stamped on our hearts, so well did their creators fashion them. They are alive for us.
All of these characters have been revisited, again and again, by authors not their creators. That’s because they are so powerful. Because we want more adventures with them. Because they fire the imaginations of even the most imaginative people… and, yes, sometimes the imaginations of the dullest of people as well.
I daresay Captain America is such a character now, for millions of Americans. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the pages of Timely Comics (now Marvel Entertainment, thank you very much!) during the early days of World War II, Cap was re-engineered by Kirby and Stan Lee beginning in 1963. Starting as just another patriotic-themed Nazi-buster, in the 1960s, Steve Rogers became a stranger in a strange land, Rip Van Winkle, Buck Rogers, a man who goes to sleep and wakes up in a time not his own. Of course, in 1963 he’d been asleep for only 18 years. Now, since World War II can’t move in time, the movie version of Cap awakes over 65 years in the future, still young, still ready for battle.