The United States of America turned 240 this Fourth of July and in that relatively short time as a nation, America has played a pivotal role in shaping the world. Depending on who you ask, its influence has been called either a bastion of hope or a plague upon this Earth. What’s undeniable, however, is that America’s Independence signaled a turning point in history. According to Wikipedia’s sortable list of Sovereign States by Date of Formation, there were roughly 50 countries (as we know them today) in existence before July 4, 1776; to name a few, Iran dates back to 3,200 BC, Japan, 450 AD and Russia, 860. Throughout those early 3,000 to 4,000 years of civilization, those 50 countries were in various states of rule, power and conflict in their respective parts of the world. All of this occurred well before the “New World” was “discovered.”
In the 240 years before America declared its independence from the United Kingdom, a nation with roots dating back to the sixth century, there was a total of about five newly established countries: the Netherlands in 1581, Bhutan in 1634 and Afghanistan, Saudi Arabi and Nepal in the 1700s. In the 240 years since America declared its independence, the number of countries in the world has nearly tripled. Many of these new nations followed America’s lead and brushed away the hand of one of those original 50 colonizing countries. America helped when it could and sometimes when it should not have. But the ideals of freedom and liberty, laid out by America’s Founding Fathers, were considered such fundamental rights, that wars were fought within and without to preserve these virtues throughout the past two centuries. America, similar to every other country in the world, has made missteps along its journey, and it still continues to do so. What should not be ignored is the pliability of America’s basic principles and the progress it has made, and continues to make, in such a comparatively short amount of time in a rapidly evolving world.
Now, before America has reached its Sestercentennial (250 year anniversary, thank you Wikipedia), tensions are on the rise once more and the country is divided. According to several polls, the two current, mainstream Presidential candidates are the most disliked candidates in recent history. Both candidates are regularly portrayed as comic book super villains, sometimes literally, who regularly inspire anger, hostility and distrust. They are oftentimes compared to Hydra, the number one terrorist organization in the Marvel Universe. America’s Founding Father’s – much like the Avengers, Marvel’s heroic counter to Hydra – warned of the threat presented by a partisan public; a rapidly approaching reality for America. But as history and comics prove, America is never short of heroes; men and women willing to stand up for the liberty of others. Heroes who remind us that America is not the oldest nation, nor the most perfect, but a country that should continue to evolve with its citizens while protecting and preserving their freedoms. Here’s to the United States of America and its positive influences surviving for another 240 years!
The Founding Avengers: America’s Mightiest Heroes!
George Washington as Captain America. Both of these patriots bleed red, white and blue and have a storied career of leading and standing for freedom and justice for all. Washington led the first successful revolution against a colonial empire, Steve Rogers punched Adolf Hitler in the face. As such, both men were viewed as symbols of liberation and nationalism. Lauded for their commitment to the military and the defense of the downtrodden, Washington and Rogers knew how to rally their troops and persevere when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. Despite their natural leadership abilities, both men shied away from power. After turning down a third term as America’s first president, Washington spoke out once more concerning the dangers of tyranny, a large government and bitter partisanship. When describing Washington, Henry Lee could well have described Captain Rogers, claiming he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
John Adams as Nick Fury. These well-connected founders play a background role in their support of freedom. Adams, the “guy behind the guy,” was one of the main driving forces behind the War for Independence. Similar to how Fury often called on the Avengers, the second President of the United States helped form the new government by utilizing his close ties with several of the other Founding Fathers. He propped Washington up as the leader of the Continental Army and selflessly took a backseat to the general after the war. Before the Revolution, Adams wrote letters about freedom with Thomas Jefferson, his close associate, and he even assisted the famous writer with penning the Declaration of Independence. Adams, a lawyer by trade, and Fury, a soldier, both believed in the necessity of government and while they both favored the small unobtrusive form, neither was afraid of making unpopular decisions in defense of their beliefs of freedom.
Thomas Jefferson as Iron Man. Tony Stark is a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. If you add politician, architect, author, educator and take away a few centuries worth of social advancement, you may as well be talking about America’s third President. Jefferson and Stark were both men of science and builders; one constructed universities and mansions, the other erected monuments to the sky with his name plastered on them. Both men played a large part in authoring and supporting important legislature, be it the Declaration of Independence or the Superhuman Registration Act. Beyond the Revolution, Jefferson found himself at odds with other Founders such as Adams, his longtime political friend and foe. Much like Tony desired to increase the size of the Avengers, Jefferson made one of the first major expansions in American history with the Louisiana Purchase. But despite their much-lauded, altruistic endeavors, accusations of hypocrisy continued to plague the philandering slave owner and the alcoholic weapons manufacturer.
James Madison as Hulk. The fourth American President’s career is a tale of two politicians, much like the Hulk is a tale of Bruce Banner, a man of science, and his big, green, brutish side. Similar to how Banner and Stark became known as the Avenger’s “Science Bros,” Madison aligned himself with Jefferson and formed the Democratic-Republican party. Their party favored the small, individual rights of the states, but later during his presidency, Madison found himself leaning toward a larger, more forceful Federal government. During the War of 1812, Madison worked enthusiastically with a “war hawk” Congress after becoming enraged by the weakness of the national army. Madison would later reconcile these two extreme sides of his political persona, an ever-elusive goal for Bruce Banner. But like the Green Goliath, many historians had difficulty defining Madison and his political motives.
Benjamin Franklin as Thor. A Founding Father who could just as easily be found in France as America draws a few parallels to Earth’s Mightiest Hero who hails from Asgard. Neither of these greatly admired ambassadors were typically associated with being in power, but they still exerted a lot of influence over their peers and regularly inspired loyalty. Franklin, one of America’s most famous polymaths, may have been worthy of being president had he set his mind to the task, but he focused more on creating newspapers, fire departments and post offices. Likewise, many of Thor’s tales dealt with him becoming worthy of ruling Asgard and succeeding his royal All-Father, but for the most part, Odinson remained off of Asgard’s throne. While Franklin was known for his many inventions, Thor tended to work with just one tool, his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir. Both men, however, were quite adept at calling forth lightning.
All-New, All-Different Founders
Like the Avengers, the roster of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) is continually evolving and expanding as details of new patriots and heroes have emerged.
Molly Pitcher as Black Widow. Not much is known or verified about this female patriot, much like Marvel’s secretive soviet-spy. The deeds and details of Molly Pitcher were generally attributed to Mary Ludwig Hays, though many historians used the nickname to refer to several women on the Revolutionary battlefield.
Sam Adams as Hawkeye. War, like the American Revolution, is a circus of chaos which imperils innocent lives. In his time, Sam Adams was seen as a man of the people, a patriotic Robin Hood who often failed to collect taxes from his fellow citizens. Neither Adams, an organizer of the Boston Tea Party, or Hawkeye, a one-time villain, possessed an illustrious background like their more famous compatriots but their role as rabble-rouser helped ferment thoughts of freedom.
Abigail Adams as Agent Maria Hill. Everybody needs a confidant, somebody they can trust. Abigail Adams was her husband John’s strongest supporter. The second president often wrote to his wife for advice and depended on Abigail, much like Nick Fury leaned on his second in command. Abigail’s political activity was so well-known that political opponents referred to her as “Mrs. President.” Unfortunately, being that it was the 1700s, Abigail never ascended to the highest position of power like Maria Hill did in the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.
Alexander Hamilton as Agent Phil Coulson. The Founding Fathers and Avengers have many admirers. One of George Washington’s biggest fans was Hamilton, a fellow Founder and nobody is a bigger fan of the Avengers than Phil Coulson. Both men aspired to live a heroic life, but both eventually died a premature death; Hamilton was fatally shot in a duel with his political rival, Alexander Burr, and Coulson was tragically impaled by Loki. Too bad for Hamilton there was no Kree blood available in America’s early days.
Prince Whipple as Falcon and Crispus Attucks as War Machine. Slavery is a dark stain on America’s past, and one which will be as much a part of this country’s history as the American Revolution. Despite the dearth of recorded evidence and difficulty to corroborate, stories persisted of slaves who fought during the war. African descendants fought for both sides of the war, believing their loyalty would be rewarded. Many achieved their goal of freedom, like Prince Whipple, a wrongfully enslaved African who traveled to America for an education. Though not substantiated, Whipple was commonly credited as the black oarsman on Washington’s left in the famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware. Falcon, Steve Rogers’ best friend, was commonly on Captain America’s left before he assumed the title himself.
Many patriotic slaves did not make it to the end of the war, most notably Crispus Attucks. The Boston Massacre served as one of the initial sparks to the Revolutionary War and Attucks was the first patriot to die during that altercation. Historians widely considered Attucks to be the first American death of the Revolution. War Machine, Tony’s Stark’s best friend James Rhodes, experienced similar fates in two of Marvel’s most recent big events, the Captain America: Civil War movie and the Civil War II comic book event.