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Captain America’s Most Controversial Quote is Wrong, According To Marvel

One Captain America made comic history in a panel saying why he never gives up, but Steve’s loss in Civil War shows there is strength in surrender.

The dramatic finale of Marvel’s contentious Civil War was humbling for Captain America, but his surrender helped prove a much-maligned quote from his Ultimate variant wrong.

With the canon Marvel Universe having decades of history behind it, the publisher created the Ultimate imprint to provide readers with easily-accessible stories that weren’t weighed down by continuity. The imprint’s stories were quite similar to the standard line of comics, but unlike the 616 universe, the Ultimate universe contained modernized versions of its classic heroes. One of the most well-known series in the line was The Ultimates, the Avengers of Marvel’s Ultimate universe. The series had a number of notable moments, but perhaps its most meme-worthy event happened in The Ultimates #12 when Captain America is taking down a Chitauri officer who implores Rogers to surrender. In a panel that spread like wildfire online, Cap screams to his enemy, “You think this letter on my head stands for France?!


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The moment was pretty uncharacteristic for Steve. Not only because it’s unlikely Cap would denigrate an entire people in such a jingoistic fashion, but because the character has surrendered quite a bit over the years. In Mark Miller and Steve McNiven’s Civil War #7, Captain America sees the devastation his conflict with Iron Man has done to the superhuman community, and more importantly, the people they are meant to protect. Though Steve has fought and bled to keep his allies’ independence, he recognizes that even though his side was winning, the argument he was making was being lost in the destruction he was leading. Casting off his mask, Captain America turns himself over to the police, bringing the Civil War to its sad and painful end.

Captain America Surrenders Civil War Marvel Comics

While this may be one of the more well-known instances of Cap surrendering, it’s certainly not the only one. Captain America’s time as Nomad was a metaphorical abandoning of his duties as America’s symbol, as was his brief time in his dark-suited identity of The Captain. Basically, Steve Rogers has a long history of yielding, which means his Ultimate version’s gross overreaction couldn’t have been more wrong if he tried.

To Ultimate Captain America’s credit, there is something to be said about Steve Rogers being a resilient hero who won’t back down. But Cap also recognizes that relentless determination doesn’t work in every case. If Steve had gone on with his mission in Civil War, then his side would have undoubtedly won, but the Marvel Universe may not have ever recovered from the conflict. As a soldier, Captain America recognizes there is a strength in retreat and that sometimes the real winning play is to back down. The reason his Ultimate variant’s line is so joked about is because it leaves little to no room for nuance, seeing conflicts as “winner take all.” But Captain America’s loss in Civil War shows that sometimes surrender is the only way to truly win.

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