Captain America was a comic book character created specifically to fight fascism, which is perhaps why the son of the man who created the Marvel superhero is so frustrated with seeing Cap associated with Donald Trump.
Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America has been the focal point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and battling otherworldly threats in recent years, but the character has a long history of battling against fascist threats to America and championing freedom and democracy. Which is probably why Neal Kirby, the son of Jack, is so upset about images that featured Trump associated with Captain America as part of the riot that staged a failed coup attempt in Washington last week.
Among the many disturbing images of the MAGA riot that left five people dead and was the worst breach of the seat of US democracy since the War of 1812 were scenes where Trump supporters wore Captain America merchandise. Which is why Kirby called out “insurrectionists” who stormed the US Capitol last week in a message that was amplified by CNN’s Jake Tapper. Kirby was mad and disappointed by the coup attempt but was most critical, however, of those who were wearing shirts and other clothing that equated Trump to Captain America, including some that featured the only president to ever be impeached twice wearing what looks like Captain America’s uniform.
Neal Kirby, the son of Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby, was distressed to see some of the January 6 terrorists/rioters wearing shirts with versions of his dad’s creation corrupted by the image of the outgoing president. His message to them: pic.twitter.com/RTH9UNs491
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 14, 2021
“While watching one of the horrific videos of the storming of the Capitol, I thought I noticed someone in a Trump/Capt. America t-shirt,” Kirby’s statement said. “I was appalled and mortified. I believe I even caught a quick glance of someone with a Captain America shield. A quick Google search turned up Trump as Captain America on T-shirts, posters, even a flag! These images are disgusting and disgraceful.”
The statement is pretty lengthy, but it does make a number of good points about both Captain America’s anti-fascist beliefs and how they don’t square with what Capitol rioters and Trump himself believe about America and the value of democracy. Kirby specifically attacked Trump’s character, and said the actions in the Capitol will “haunt” the 72-year-old and
“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 festering cesspool of lies and hypocrisy,” Kirby wrote. “Several of our presidents held the same values as Captain America. Donald Trump is not one of them.”
Kirby is angry about more than copyright infringement or a lack of credit. Rather, he says using Captain America imagery on these shirts, a character created by World War II veterans, is an “insult to both their memories.”
“Where Captain America is courageous, Trump is a coward,” Kirby wrote. “Captain America and Trump couldn’t be more different.”