Tuesday, October 20, 2015

200th Post: National or State-Sponsored Marvel Heroes and the MCU

Image Courtesy www.screenrant.com

This is the 200th article that I have published on my blog in right around 7½ months. Wow! A lot of blogs don’t last that long, and a lot of blogs don’t publish that much. I’d like to think that the reason I’ve kept this going so long is because I have interesting things to say, and the fact that there are people who check out my blog (35k+ views to-date) and like what I’m saying doesn’t hurt either! When I was looking at my publishing schedule, I saw that my 200th article would be either the Expectations for tonight’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Review for it. Well, I didn’t publish anything on Sunday (I already talked about the most interesting thing for tonight’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. over the summer: Lash’s comic book history), meaning that #200 would be tomorrow’s review. At first I thought that would be appropriate; my first article was an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. review (“Aftershocks,” 2x11), so what better 200th post than another review? However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of writing a special article for my 200th post. So here it is: my 200th article!

This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while but didn’t think I had the facts for until now. I put a request on Reddit, and that generated some interest, so here are a lot of characters I knew about already or found in the course of my research, as well as some additional suggestions from a couple Redditers.

Have you noticed that there are a lot of Marvel heroes who seem to be the embodiment of their respective nations? Captain America is the first hero to come to mind; his outfit and shield are covered in American symbols which are only slightly-more-obviously-American than his character traits of loyalty, patriotism, and honor. However, Captain America is not the only Marvel hero to be very closely-associated with his or her nation and even depicted acting as an official agent of the nation.

Here are all the so-called “National Heroes” that I could find. This is a bit of a subjective list, as I was looking at a combination of criteria, primary among which is acting as an official “agent of the state” in some capacity. However, there are a couple who are not depicted as official agents but I would still consider to be representing the ideals and values of their nation—“personifying the nation,” if you will. At the end of the article I’m also going to answer the question: Is there any scenario where we could see these “national heroes” in the MCU?

Image Courtesy www.comicbook.com
United States

When you think of distinctively-American superheroes, the first one to come to mind is always Captain America, the embodiment of the American spirit. Steve Rogers participated in Project: Rebirth, an experiment with creating a super-soldier during the early days of World War II. Rogers was given the Super-Soldier Serum along with “Vita-Rays” which stimulated muscle growth, giving him super-strength, durability, endurance, and the like, as well as an accelerated healing factor powerful enough to keep him alive for decades buried in ice. He is really the archetype for a “National Hero.”

There have been a number of other characters who took on the mantle of Captain America, as well as a number of other “official” super-soldiers of the U.S. The obvious example is John Walker, a.k.a. U.S. Agent, who also took on the Captain America mantle temporarily while Steve Rogers was in the middle of a feud with the U.S. government. Another example is John Steele, a.k.a. American Soldier, a super-soldier active during World War I (and possibly as early as the Civil War). All of these super-soldiers have relatively similar abilities, and most wear a red, white, and blue suit and carry a shield.

I suppose no discussion of “official” American superheroes in Marvel Comics can be complete without at least mentioning Iron Patriot, the alias that Norman Osborn created as leader of both H.A.M.M.E.R. and the Dark Avengers. His abilities are essentially those of Iron Man with a Captain America-inspired color scheme. He tries, but it’s Norman Osborn; none of the other heroes exactly trust him (and with good reason; the dude invaded Asgard)!

The Avengers are the unofficial superhero team of the U.S., though the U.S. government has employed numerous hero teams over the years, including the Invaders and All-Winners Squad, among others.

Image Courtesy www.marvel.com
American Indians

I found three different American Indian heroes who serve as the protector and embodiment of their respective tribe/nation. The one who has gained the most exposure in recent years is Red Wolf, Marvel’s first American Indian hero and a title held by several Cheyenne heroes over a span of 200+ years. Each of these heroes receives his powers from the Cheyenne wolf spirit. They are excellent fighters, marksmen, and trackers. They are also accompanied by a wolf companion (all but the first).

Thomas Fireheart, a.k.a. Puma, is the product of mysticism and selective breeding intended to create a “perfect warrior” to protect his tribe (suggested to be the Kisani of Arizona) from the coming of a powerful destroyer. Puma has various superhuman abilities, chief among which is the ability to transform into a super-powerful “werecat” at will. Fireheart protected his tribe for a while before becoming bored and offering his services as a mercenary, which brought him into conflict with Spider-Man.

The third hero is Jason Strongbow, a.k.a. American Eagle, a Navajo man who received superpowers when he was attacked by Ulysses Klaw and exposed to a combination of sonic energy and uranium (it’s comics; roll with it). He has the usual superhuman abilities of strength, agility, resistance to injury, and the like, as well as enhanced senses.

South America

There are quite a few “national heroes” (whether they are official heroes or not is debatable) in South America, though very little is known about most of them; they were only introduced as targets for the supervillain Everyman to kill. These include Captain Forsa, a Brazilian hero with superhuman strength; Defensor (H/T AbsorbingMan on Reddit), an Argentinean hero who wears vibranium conquistador armor and carries a vibranium shield; and La Bandera, a mutant Cuban refugee with the ability to influence the emotions (particularly nationalism) of others. Note: La Bandera actually resists the Communist regime, but she makes the list because her story embodies that of the Cuban people following the Communist takeover.

Image Courtesy marvel.wikia.com
United Kingdom

I decided to lump all the U.K. heroes together here. I previously talked about several British heroes in conjunction with the rumor of Union Jack appearing in Captain America: Civil War.

The two main “national heroes” of Britain are Captain Britain and Union Jack (H/T lupianwolf for the reminder). Each of these heroes has been reinvented so they represent different levels of British society. Brian Braddock, a.k.a. Captain Britain, is a nobleman with mystically-granted powers such as strength, speed, endurance, agility, durability, energy projection, and flight. He protects England from mystical and magical attacks, and is part of an inter-dimensional peacekeeping force charged with protecting the multiversal England. His counterpart is Union Jack, a mantle passed down several times with the most recent holder being a working-class man named Joseph Chapman. Union Jack has some supernatural abilities and also wears a cybernetic exoskeleton which gives him super-strength.

Ireland has its own “national heroine”: Molly Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Shamrock (H/T AbsorbingMan). Shamrock has the ability to affect probability within 20 feet of her, giving her good luck and others bad luck (think Scarlet Witch). According to the Marvel Wiki, she received her powers because her father asked the blessing of the heavens on her brother—and for some reason it affected her, instead.

The United Kingdom has several superhero teams, including MI-13 and S.T.R.I.K.E. (both S.H.I.E.L.D. equivalents), Excalibur, the Knights of Pendragon, and the New Invaders.

Though it’s not part of the U.K., Canada is part of the Commonwealth of Nations (former British territories), so I guess I’ll include the Canadian heroes here. Canada’s “official” hero is the Guardian, a Canadian engineer named James Hudson who developed a battle suit and was hired by Department H (the Canadian equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to work for them as a hero. His suit (which was later incorporated into his physiology by aliens) gives Guardian the ability to fly, shoot energy, and generate a personal force field. Guardian formed a hero team called Alpha Flight (which included, among others, Wolverine and Shaman, an Eskimo medicine man with a magic pouch) to officially work for the Canadian government.

Image Courtesy
U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)

The U.S.S.R. was one of the largest countries in the world, and it had no less than five “national” heroes all told. The first and most prominent hero is probably the Red Guardian, a mantle which has been passed down to eight different heroes. The most well-known of the eight may be Alexei Shostakov, the second Red Guardian, partly because he was married to Natasha Romanoff, the most well-known Black Widow. While none of the Red Guardians had superpowers, they were all skilled fighters and pilots and carried either a “belt-buckle disc” or a shield similar to Captain America’s. The current Red Guardian is the mutant known as Vanguard, who has the ability to generate a force field and redirect energy it repels.

In addition, the mutant Colossus was brainwashed into becoming the Russian hero Proletarian (H/T lupianwolf) and fighting the X-Men in one issue. Also, the Crimson Dynamo could be considered the Soviet counterpart to Iron Man as a man in a metal battle-suit.

The U.S.S.R. has a couple of superhero teams, including the Winter Guard and the Soviet Super-Soldiers.

Le Peregrine
Image Courtesy marvel.wikia.com

There are a couple of heroes associated with Germany. The first is Franz Mittelstaedt, a.k.a. Blitzkrieg (H/T AbsorbingMan), who gained electrical powers after the power plant where he was working got struck by lightning. He can summon and manipulate lightning, which also gives him the ability to fly. The second hero is Markus Ettlinger, a.k.a. Hauptmann Deutschland (“Captain Germany”), a hero with the ability to absorb and redirect kinetic energy. Germany’s national superhero team is the Schutz Heiliggruppe.

During the Civil War event Marvel introduced several French heroes, including a hero team called Les Heroes des Paris which resisted superhuman registration and included a number of members who were tributes to DC’s Justice League. Fun fact: while in France the Thing teamed up with this group. In addition, the French government hired a few freelance superheroes to protect its borders from American heroes fleeing the Superhuman Registration Act. One of these heroes is the mercenary Le Peregrine (H/T AbsorbingMan), an adventurer and master of savate (French kick-boxing) named Alain Racine who wears a wing-suit with an anti-gravity generator, allowing him to fly. Le Peregrine also protected France from Kang’s forces later during the Kang War.

Image Courtesy www.marvel.com
Africa and Asia

This is a massive chunk of land, but I’ve only found five national heroes from this region, so I’m grouping them together. First up is the one who is confirmed to be appearing in the MCU. T’Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther, is both the leader of his country of Wakanda and its national hero. His various powers are granted to him by his vibranium suit and a mystical herb which only the Royal Family can eat.

Moving east, Israel’s national heroine is the “mutant” (who may instead be the product of Israeli super-soldier experimentation) Sabra (Ruth Bat-Seraph) (H/T AbsorbingMan), a Mossad agent. She has the standard abilities of superhuman strength, speed, agility, and the like, as well as the ability to withstand some gunfire. In addition, she can use her own life energy to heal other people and grant them random superpowers for as long as she leaves her life energy on them (which weakens her). Thanks to her suit (patterned after the Israeli flag) she has the ability to fly and shoot plasma from her wrist bracelets.

Iraq has its own national hero, Abdul Qamar, a.k.a. Arabian Knight (H/T AbsorbingMan), the descendant of a legendary Muslim warrior and a skilled swordsman in his own right who found his ancestor’s magic carpet, sash, and scimitar, and used them to defeat the demons Gog and Magog.

The national hero of China is/are five mutant brothers with the ability to merge into a single being called Collective Man (H/T AbsorbingMan) with five times the abilities of a single brother. They also share a telepathic link and can teleport to the location of any other brother.

Finally, Japan’s national hero is Sunfire, a mutant who possesses the solar radiation-based abilities of flight, radiation immunity, and the ability to shoot plasma. Additionally, Japan has its own official superhero team, Big Hero 6 (as in the team in the animated movie).

MCU Potential
Image Courtesy www.comicbook.com

So, given that this is “Mostly MCU Reviews,” I guess you knew this had to swing back around to the movies. And my question with this article is: could we see any of these characters in the MCU? We’ve already seen three of the listed characters (Captain America, Black Widow, and a version of Iron Patriot), with a fourth, Black Panther, set to debut in Captain America: Civil War before receiving his own movie 2 years later. But what about the others?

Proletarian (brainwashed Colossus), Vanguard, Collective Man, Sunfire, and La Bandera are all mutants, making it almost certain that their rights are owned by FOX, which could work them into their X-Men universe; Colossus has already made several appearances there. Two others, Shamrock and Sabra, may or may not also be mutants, leaving their rights up in the air (though I will assume that Marvel owns them for the purpose of this article).

However, all of the others except Puma (a Spider-Man supporting character) are probably owned by Marvel Studios, and with the Sony deal now in place there’s nothing stopping Marvel and Sony from using Puma in the MCU as well. Of course, the bigger question should probably be: Under what circumstances could these characters appear?

In the comics, these characters first appeared in major crossover events like the Superhuman Civil War and the Contest of Champions (a series of battle contests arranged by the Grandmaster and Death). As such, I think the most obvious place for some of them to appear is in one or more of the upcoming event movies, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

In Captain America: Civil War, I can envision a scene around the middle of the movie when the United Nations is adopting the Accords (the MCU version of the Superhuman Registration Act). In conjunction with the signing, several of the signatory nations hold press conferences presenting their respective “official” heroes and hero teams:

  • United States: U.S. Agent, Iron Man, and the “Mighty Avengers”
  • England: Captain Britain, Union Jack, and the New Invaders (making a connection to Captain America’s World War II service)
  • France: Le Pèlerin (the actual French word for “peregrine falcon”)
  • Germany: Blitzkrieg and the Schutz Heiliggruppe
  • Canada: Guardian and Alpha Flight
  • Russia: Red Guardian and the Winter Guard
  • Iraq introduces the Arabian Knight, prompting Israel to introduce its own hero, Sabra (if she’s owned by Marvel; if not they can create their own new character)—because if an Arab nation had a national hero, you know Israel would need their own!

Of course, all of this happens as a quick montage which Steve and Sam are watching on TV. We don’t learn much about the heroes themselves except that they exist. Afterwards Sam shows Steve the press releases explaining who the heroes are: “There are a dozen more like these who’ve already been announced as official, state-sponsored heroes, and more are coming in every day. Most of these are average guys in suits or just average guys—couple super-soldier experiments in the mix, too—but some of these are real heavy hitters. Take this Captain Britain: he’s got a mystic amulet that makes him almost as powerful as Thor. Sabra, the what-do-they-call-‘em—Inhuman—can channel her life energy into others and give them powers! If we have to fight all of them, I don’t think we’ve got the numbers or power to stop them.” “I guess we’ll just have to make sure we don’t have to fight them.”

Additionally, at the end of the movie we could see Steve and Tony staring at similar maps showing all the superheroes and Inhumans scattered around the world with similar looks of concern.

Black Captain America (Isaiah Bradley)Image Courtesy
I think that is as much introduction as most of these characters really need; anything more could be handled at a later date. At the same time that these press conferences were being filmed, I would also have each hero film three or four different battle scenes to work into news reports throughout Phase 3 (playing in the background of the movies and TV shows).

The next time we would probably see most—if not all—of these heroes is in the next event movie, Avengers: Infinity War, where every hero in the MCU will probably appear. Part 1 could involve a joint operation of the Mighty Avengers and Alpha Flight against Thanos’ forces, which gets crushed. Then in Part 2 we could see all of these national heroes fighting, either together in a central location or protecting their own nations, or both. If any of these characters are well-received, Marvel could give them a solo movie (or a team-up movie with a team of them working for the U.N.) as part of Phase 4.

I also think it would be really cool to see a team-up movie with the three American Indian heroes (more if you include First Nations Canadian heroes like Shaman) as part of Phase 4.


There is a great breadth to the number of heroes that fit into this category, though they all share a few traits in common. Most of them are by-and-large upright and patriotic heroes. Many of them wear the official colors of their nation, with elements of the flag worked into their suits. There are many who would fit into the category of “super-soldiers”: soldiers at peak physical condition or who underwent enhancements to turn them into “perfect soldiers” with super-strength and the like. Several wield shields inspired by Captain America; some even use vibranium (the most surprising being Defensor—I mean, how did a Spanish conquistador get a suit of vibranium armor?).

Many of these heroes are relatively well-known, with multiple comic books to their name. However, quite a few more were simply introduced for a single story arc and have relatively few appearances. For example, the “Contest of Champions” pitted a number of “national heroes” against each other, which is where heroes like Shamrock, Sabra, Collective Man, and Arabian Knight originated. The Superhuman Civil War introduced all the French heroes. As mentioned above, a superhuman serial killer murdered all the South American heroes, along with his teammate Blitzkrieg, before himself being killed by Hauptmann Deutschland.

I am sure that there are more “national heroes” out there, but these are the ones that I managed to find. If you know of any more, put them in the comments and I may either update this list or publish a second list if there are enough to warrant it.

I hope that you found these characters to be as interesting as I did. Which one (aside from those confirmed to be appearing in the MCU) is your favorite? Do you think any (other than those) will appear in the MCU? Do you want Captain America: Civil War to introduce the concept of the “State-Sponsored Hero”? Let me know in the comments!

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