Captain America: Born Too Late

compound

Well-Known Member
Here's an idea for an alternate reality Marvel What If? title called Captain America: Born Too Late.

Steve Rogers, in this reality, is a Baby Boomer born in 1949. Since he is the only person with both the right attitude and DNA to successfully pass the Super Soldier Formula test, nobody takes on the role of Captain America in WWII.

No Cap means no Marvel heroes to follow... or so it appears.

Instead, Steve Rogers is the son of a Reservist who volunteered for the Super Soldier program, and barely survived its debilitating effects on his health. As a result of the experiment's manipulation of the elder Rogers' biological functions, little Stevie is born with a fragile bone structure, and an artificially lowered IQ, but the same naive, simple-minded desire to serve his country that 616 Steve Rogers possesses. I think you can see where I'm going with this...

Equal parts Forrest Gump and Big Fish, the life story of this reality's Steve Rogers becomes a metaphor for both the social history of 20th Century America AND the development of the mainstream comics industry.

His awkward high school relationship experimentation is like a 60s romance title. His time in Vietnam is depicted like an old Tour of Duty comic. And so forth.

Steve ends up on a motivational speaking tour in the 80s, whose feel-good mantras prompt Peter Parker to conceptualize the World Wide Web. Steve also ends up making middle-America more comfortable with the idea of supporting AIDS activist Charles Xavier. The CIA, under the leadership of Nick Fury, attempt to manipulate him into becoming an unlikely spy, during the Cold War. That kind of deal.

The other heroes are weaved in and out the narrative. We have the Avengers starting out as a college debate society. All of them are either comfortably upwardly-mobile middle-class kids, or affluent trust-fund babies. We meet Tony Stark initially as a draft-dodging hippie -- a liberal with a literally bleeding heart -- eventually selling out, as an arms-dealing yuppie hedonist with a pace-maker, and bubble-like life support system. In Thor, we see the evolution of gay culture, from Haight-Ashbury and Stonewall to disco and the Pride marches, via all points in between. Janet Van Dyne follows the classic women's lib narrative, dabbling with images ranging from Earth Mother to power-dressing vixen, on her way to a reluctant bid for the Senate.

We see the falling out between Steve and his childhood buddy Sam Wilson, as Sam becomes more militant, abandoning his "slave name" after he becomes friends with Black Panther Party organizer T'Challa. Only for them to reconcile when Sam goes underground, and ends up becoming the first black man in the US Space Program (the shuttle he engineers? The Falcon, of course).

Actually, this could easily be a mini-series of 4 over-sized issues, one for each decade from the 60s to the 90s, with clothes, hairstyles, art styles, and dialogue adapted for each time period.

Should I have a go at writing this as a fic in script form?
 
Last edited:

compound

Well-Known Member
Last minute addition: would it cheapen the story to reveal that the ongoing narration was being read by a bald priest dressed in robes with the same color scheme as Uatu the Watcher's outfit, who is eulogizing the late Steve Rogers, during his funeral?

The big final shocker -- Steve's heart gave in, in the midst of volunteer relief efforts for 9/11.
 
Last edited:

Guijllons

Well-Known Member
A script would be cool, though I'd prefer to see Steve Rogers more in depth. The additional cast do seem a bit contrived, contrived past the point even.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
Guijllons said:
A script would be cool, though I'd prefer to see Steve Rogers more in depth. The additional cast do seem a bit contrived, contrived past the point even.
Yeah, honestly, I got a little carried away with his interactions, and it kinda misrepresents the focus.

Because I really had it more like a Big Fish scenario, where all these people's life-histories are framed in terms of the effect Steve has on their life, but that admittedly kinda got lost in all the self-conscious nods to the changing symbols of the times.

If anything, I'd like Steve to be the embodiment of (my perception of) the American national character, at any point in the story, such that his mental state and outlook might serve as an apologia for the shifting attitudes of the "average, typical American" of that era -- even during moments when I (as a writer) might be in fundamental disagreement of that view.

How that plays out in real terms? Well, the shiny, jet-set future promise of the Kennedy era. The growing sense of indignation -- rather than cynicism -- that accompanied the Civil Rights era and the peace movement. The hopefulness-amidst-uncertainty brought on by the Energy Crisis and the Nixon impeachment. The sense of unintentionally smug this-is-how-it-should-be entitlement as the middle classes swell, but the wealth gap widens in the 80s. It's all directed towards this instinctual, almost obsessive desire to do right by the country, its people, what it (claims to) stands for.

Now, how exactly this plays out, in the events of Steve's life? That, I need to think through a little more.
 

Guijllons

Well-Known Member
compound said:
but that admittedly kinda got lost in all the self-conscious nods to the changing symbols of the times.
Peter Parker inventing the World Wide Web wasn't a nod, it was a headbut :D

Now, how exactly this plays out, in the events of Steve's life? That, I need to think through a little more.
I know exactly where you're coming from, did from the title. It was something I thought about while reading Ultimates #8 when Bucky mentions that they held a funeral for Cap every year up until the 60's.
 

Random

Didn't **** any of those *****es
This is a great idea. But the title "Born too Late" doesn't really fit for me
 
Last edited:

compound

Well-Known Member
Random said:
This is a great idea. But the title "Born too Late" doesn't really fit for me
Fair enough. I'd considered naming it "A Time For Every Purpose", which is a repeated lyric in "Turn Turn Turn" by the Byrds (which was also featured prominently in Forrest Gump), and kinda sums up the idea behind the entire series, though it sounds a little needlessly over-dramatic.

Another corny one I just thought up on the spot: "American, His Story"
 
Last edited:

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
A little more apprpriate for the fanfic forum. Moved accordingly.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
I was gonna re-watch stuff like The 60s, The 70s, Hair, and American Graffitti (all of which either I or my girlfriend own on VCD or DVD), partly because of "research" for the fic, mostly because i'm just in the mood to see them again. But then I realized that those are mostly ensemble pieces with a big cast, and I do plan to keep things focused on Steve, as I mentioned, so perhaps that's not the best idea.
 
Last edited:

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Don't take this as damning you with faint praise, but I think that this is the kind of idea that Bill Jemas would find highly marketable! Now go apply for Marvel now! Be a whore!
 

Random

Didn't **** any of those *****es
ProjectX2 said:
Are you talking to me or not?

No I was just using your words to spoof the quote from Field of Dreams "If you build it ,they will come."
 
compound said:
I was gonna re-watch stuff like The 60s, The 70s, Hair, and American Graffitti (all of which either I or my girlfriend own on VCD or DVD), partly because of "research" for the fic, mostly because i'm just in the mood to see them again. But then I realized that those are mostly ensemble pieces with a big cast, and I do plan to keep things focused on Steve, as I mentioned, so perhaps that's not the best idea.


Go with your original instincts. I like what you mapped out in the beginning better than the cumulative feedback you got. Park inventing the World Wide Web? Love it. Create a whole universe around Steve Rogers and goof on any character you want.

Floating an idea for a general audience to comment on invites mucking up an inspired thought by trying to please everybody. Write that thing as you see it.
 
Last edited:

Entropy

Well-Known Member
Love the idea, lot of potential and would be a real fun read. A few suggestions for chewing on. I don't think it's really necessary for Steve to be retarded or stupid. Him just being sickly old Steve Rogers is good enough. It's not that big a deal but I think adding the low IQ puts this too close to Forrest Gump. Now, this is my main thought. Your going to be covering alot of history and meeting alot of people and I think Steve needs a real good reason for how that happens. You could explain the early years via the fact that Steve's father was career military and they were constantly base-hopping. Later in life though, what if you played on Steve's artistic talents? What if his life and his adventures follows his career working as an artistic journalist for Fantastic magazine (founded by Reed Richards of course, and something like equal parts Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Time and MAD Magazine) with his reporter colleague "Bucky" Barnes? From there you could go alot of different ways. Anyways, good idea, definitely go for it.
 

ProjectX2

Don't expect me to take you with me when I go to s
ourchair said:
Don't take this as damning you with faint praise, but I think that this is the kind of idea that Bill Jemas would find highly marketable! Now go apply for Marvel now! Be a whore!

Take me with you!
 

compound

Well-Known Member
I recently re-watched Big Fish (amazing film, I tell you!), and it prompted me to dig up this thread.

I feel like reviving this idea, in particular, with Entropy's suggestion on focusing on Steve's artistic side as a narrative device to move the story forward.

(I figured that I might as well bump this thread, for the benefit of those who were not yet actively posting here last year.)
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top