A teenager who “stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten” is to become the first LGBTQ+ character to take on the mantle of Captain America.
Marvel Comics is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the US hero with the launch of a new series, The United States of Captain America, in which the incumbent Steve Rogers will team up with former Captain Americas when his shield goes missing. The heroes will take a road trip across the US to find the shield, and will meet people from “all walks of life” who have taken on the mantle of Captain America to defend their communities. Aaron Fischer, a gay teenager, will be the first, in the new limited series, released in June.
Marvel described Fischer, who will be the “Captain America of the Railways”, as “a fearless teen who stepped up to protect fellow runaways and the unhoused”, with his debut timed to coincide with Pride Month in the US.
“Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life,” said the series writer Josh Trujillo. “He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten. I hope his debut story resonates with readers, and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.”
Artist Jan Bazaldua said she had “really enjoyed” creating Fischer. “As a transgender person, I am happy to be able to present an openly gay person who admires Captain America and fights against evil to help those who are almost invisible to society,” said Bazaldua. “While I was drawing him, I thought, well, Cap fights against super-powerful beings and saves the world almost always, but Aaron helps those who walk alone in the street with problems that they face every day.”
Marvel reportedly had a “No Gays in the Marvel Universe” policy in the 1980s and, in the 1990s, placed an “Adults Only” label on any comics featuring prominent LGBTQ+ characters in response to conservative protests. The publisher’s first gay character, Northstar of the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight, was planned as such by creator John Byrne in 1979, but his sexuality was not revealed on the page until 1992.
But in recent years, Marvel has moved to diversify its cast of superheroes. Hulkling and Wiccan of the Young Avengers were revealed to be dating in 2010. In 2012 Northstar finally married his longtime partner in Marvel’s first same-sex wedding, a decade after DC superheroes Apollo and Midnighter married in a 2002 issue of The Authority. And in 2015, Iceman, one of the original X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963, came out as gay.