We're now less than a month away from the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and a descendant of one of the First Avenger's co-creators wants you to remember her grandfather when you're enjoying the flick.
Though much of the main Marvel Comics continuity as we know it today had its start in the early 1960s under the guidance of creators like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Captain America (along with characters like Namor the Sub-Mariner) was a carryover from the Golden Age of comics, created by Kirby and writer/artist Joe Simon in 1941. The character enjoyed a great deal of success during World War II but was largely absent from comics from 1954 to 1964, when Kirby and Stan Lee introduced the character to the Marvel Universe in The Avengers #4. Cap has remained a staple of Marvel storytelling ever since, but his strong association with the Lee/Kirby era of Marvel storytelling has meant that many people simply don't know about Simon's involvement in the character's creation and early history. According to Megan Margulies, Simon's granddaughter, many of the people she's talked to about the character never mention her grandfather's name.
"I have this really bad habit, though I do it out of love and pride for my grandfather. Whenever I see someone wearing a Captain America t-shirt, I like to first compliment them on their stellar choice, and then I ask, “Do you know who created Captain America?” Answers have varied," Margulies wrote in an essay for Bleeding Cool. "Some may say they don’t know, few say Simon and Kirby, and many say Stan Lee."
Margulies was quick to note that she doesn't blame Lee for these misconceptions. After all, Lee had a key role in integrating Cap into the Marvel Universe, and he had one of his famous cameo appearances in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. The issue for her is not with Lee's real associations with the character, but with the public's perception of his role in Captain America history.
"It’s not surprising that most people think Stan Lee created Captain America, and I certainly don’t blame them for thinking this. Stan Lee has a very large presence in the Marvel world, and more effectively, in a number of Marvel movies. Lee is known to make appearances in movies based on characters he created or co-created, so to see him pop up in Captain America: The First Avenger may have led uninformed viewers to make a false connection," Margulies wrote. "In reality, his appearance was based on the fact that he began his writing career under the wing of Simon and Kirby back in Cap’s heyday, and is responsible for reviving the character in the 60’s under Marvel’s employment."
Margulies went on to describe her grandfather's enduring love of the character he helped create, including his massive memorabilia collection and his tireless energy when it came to sketching the character for family and friends. She also noted the pride Simon and his family took in being able to see his name in the credits of The First Avenger, something Simon was able to see for himself before he passed away in December 2011.
"After a lawsuit to obtain full copyright of Captain America was settled between Marvel and my grandfather, the character was officially out of Simon and Kirby’s ownership. While there was a small monetary offer, the most meaningful and, some would say, important gain was the requirement that Marvel display their names during the beginning credits of any Captain America movie," Margulies wrote. "A flash of names on a screen may not seem like much, but to Simon’s grandchildren who represented him at the 2011 Captain America movie premiere in LA, it meant the world. On the red carpet we called him and held up the cell phone so that he could hear the cheers of fans on the sidelines. We wanted him to soak up as much of the excitement as possible from his New York City studio apartment."
So why is Margulies recounting all of this about her grandfather now? Because, as Captain America's involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows and the character gains more and more fans, she wants as many people as possible to know that Joe Simon was an integral part of this iconic hero.
"My intent in writing this before the April release of The Winter Soldier is to ask that everyone keep him in their hearts and minds," Margulies wrote. "Let us always remember Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, even if just for a quick moment as their names flash across the screen."
Here at Blastr, we're all comics fans who know Simon's legacy (and believe me, Captain America is only the tip of a very big iceberg there), but we also know that there are many fans of all ages who've simply never heard the history of Captain America's early years. So we're happy to share Margulies' words, and we'll even go a step further and say this: When you go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier next month, use it as an opportunity to tell a friend about Joe Simon and his work on the character. Talk about it on the ride home from the theater, tweet it, write it on Facebook, or say it any other way you'd like to. Everything we've seen about this film so far looks amazing, and we wouldn't have any of it if Simon and Kirby hadn't done the early work way back in the 1940s. It's a good time for all of us to remember that.
Read Margulies' full essay HERE.
(Via Bleeding Cool)