Captain America’s origin received a massive retcon when a secret brother was introduced, nearly changing the character forever.
Captain America’s origin is one of the most iconic in Marvel Comics, but when a writer introduced a secret brother that had never been spoken of before, it nearly changed the character’s backstory for good. Introducing Mike Rogers not only changed Steve Rogers’ origin in a big way, but it rewrote who the character was without much regard for Captain America’s history or legacy.
Steve Rogers was born a single child in New York, who enlisted in the military to make a difference during World War II. However, due to his frail body, he was initially rejected. Rogers showed his heart was much bigger than his muscles and was eventually accepted. He would become Captain America after agreeing to participate in the Super-Soldier project, which turned him from a scrawny man into a perfect physical specimen. Steve’s origin has featured a few changes over the years, but the main parts of his story have largely stood the test of time. But, that wasn’t because no one tried to change it.
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In Captain America #223-225, Steve Gerber made some serious attempts at changing Rogers’ origin. First and foremost, Steve discovers he wasn’t from the streets of New York, but actually was born and raised in Washington in a ritzy mansion. And not only that, but he suffered from amnesia, which made him forget the first 18 years of his life. He turns to Dr. Mason Harding for answers and when he’s hypnotized, the truth comes out: Steve had a big brother, Mike.
The origin changes didn’t stop there. Steve turned to arts, while his brother was a sports star – much to the disappointment of his Diplomat father. Mike became a military man, while Steve was called a socialist and pacifist by his dad. Steve would leave his home and studied art in college. But, one day he learns his brother was killed in Pearl Harbor (don’t think too hard about the timeline, it didn’t make much sense), which makes him turn to the military and eventually become Captain America.
Captain America being a rich kid who turned to the military after his brother died in Pearl Harbor was definitely a different take on what turned Steve into a hero. Funny enough, the changes lasted for a dozen or so issues before it was retconned again so that all of those memories about his brother and growing up in Washington were implanted as a failsafe in case he was captured by Nazis. Clearly, Marvel realized messing with a classic origin was a mistake and erased Mike and Steve Rogers’ new backstory from existence before it changed Captain America forever.
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