AT AGE 75, Captain America has always wielded a certain political symbolism, whether making his serum-powered debut in December 1940 (a year before the U.S. entry into World War II) by socking Hitler in the jaw, or going rogue in his new film

Civil War

. But his political life is, of course, markedly different on the page than on screen.

For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the filmmakers decided to freeze Steve Rogers from World War II until present day. "Once he goes to sleep for 70 years and wakes up," Captain America: Civil War co-director Joe Russo told the Washington Post last week, "[Cap] escapes the sort of 'deflowering' of America." The movie Steve Rogers, in other words, "missed Watergate, Vietnam - he missed everything."

Captain America has a much richer political story, however, in comics, which had Rogers reawaken in 1964 and not miss Vietnam and Watergate.

As the nation changed during that tumultuous time, Marvel Comics had to respond to stay relevant. And so the publisher turned to its then-straightest arrow Avenger.

"During that period, sales and interest in Captain America started to lag, for obvious reasons," Tom Brevoort, Marvel's senior vice president for publishing, told the Post. "Given that the nation was embroiled in an unpopular war - especially unpopular with the young people who were being drafted to fight - characters such as Cap or a Iron Man, who had the seeming [image] of being pro-Establishment, were out of step with the audience."

And the writer who changed this was Steve Englehart, in the year Watergate came to a head: 1974.

Englehart asked himself, "Who is Captain America?" The answer was: This star-spangled, Army-juiced crimefighter believed in the American presidency, right up until he tracked a criminal conspiracy to the White House - a superhero tracking down all the president's men.

Cap defeats the evil cabal and unmasks its leader, a president who kills himself rather than be arrested; a scandal is cooked up so that the leader's posthumous body-double can resign.

Once Captain America uncovers the conspiracy, however, his sense of patriotic trust is broken.

Just as important as the Secret Empire arc, Brevoort says, was "the immediate aftermath of that story, in which Steve Rogers went through some '70s-style soul-searching and search for self, adopting the identity of Nomad - the man without a country - along the way, before finally returning as a Captain America who was loyal to and motivated by the America dream."

Which raises the question: Now that the on-screen Captain America himself distrusts government and institutional authority, could Nomad be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's future?