Has Captain America replaced Superman as the USA’s superhero symbol? – USA TODAY

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Spider-Man and Black Panther join Team Iron Man in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’

Both have a penchant for wearing red and blue and are roughly the age of most people’s grandpas.

Yet while Superman has long fought for “truth, justice and the American way,” Captain America has tended to be the USA’s resident superhero symbol in recent movie history.

Though the Man of Steel is a hugely recognizable brand, Cap has been in more high-profile films lately (five Marvel movies  to Supes’ two DC films) and has more awareness in pop culture. Just look at the box office: 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the second solo film for Chris Evans as super-soldier Steve Rogers, pulled in a worldwide haul of $714.4 million, while Man of Steel, Henry Cavill’s 2013 debut as Superman, scored $668 million.

Even the critics seem to love Captain America more: 79% and 89% gave positive reviews to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Winter Soldier respectively at aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com, compared to 56% for Man of Steel and a measly 29% for the now-showing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

For many, though, the difference these days comes down to character.

Cavill’s Superman still is all about saving humanity from harm but offers a grittier take on the caped wonder played by Christopher Reeve in 1978’s Superman and Brandon Routh in 2006’s Superman Returns. While Rogers became a fugitive from the U.S. government in Winter Soldier and is also on the wrong side of authorities in Captain America: Civil War (in theaters May 6), the star-spangled Avenger is always earnestly fighting for freedom.

“The argument about Superman has always been, oh, he’s too hokey, he’s too corny, he doesn’t fly today,” says Devin Faraci, editor in chief of the film site Birth.Movies.Death. But those same qualities work for Captain America, who made his debut in comics fighting Nazis in 1941. “When you’re watching Adolf Hitler rise to power and the war begin in Europe, the idea of this character with the simplicity of decency, it resonates.”

Cap has become one of the most popular cinematic characters because “he represents something good,” says Mike Ryan, senior writer for entertainment site Uproxx. “The world is not a fun place right now and having a hero who is a symbol for ‘good’ is strangely comforting.”

Faraci said he doesn’t think America is any darker in 2016 than it was in 1938 — the year of Superman’s comic debut — but the hero works best in any era as a beacon of hope and light and not the Dawn of Justice movie character who is “mopey and disconnected from humanity and doesn’t care about anybody, really.”

But don’t count the Man of Steel out yet, says Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango.com and Movies.com. Davis sees some iconic qualities that elevate him above Captain America: He flies, he has that “S” shield and he has a great tagline (“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”) that youngsters “learn when they come out of the womb.”

Even though Cap can beat Supes at the box office, the living room is another story, Davis adds. “My kid still wants to dress up as Superman more than he does Captain America.”

It’s a battle of epic proportions as two superheroes face off in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’.

Has Captain America replaced Superman as the USA’s superhero symbol? – USA TODAY

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