Captain America is Chaotic Good

An Alignment Deep Dive

Captain America is Chaotic Good

During the second World War, a secret experiment aimed to create an army of super soldiers. Warriors who were enhanced to the peak of human performance, and then beyond. Only one candidate made it through the experiment before the doctor behind the formula was assassinated... Steve Rogers, the man who became Captain America.

A character who has been part of the Marvel staple for some time, Steve is often held up as an example as an exemplar of a truly good and selfless hero. But for this alignment deep dive I'd like to point out that there's more than a little chaos in Steve's alignment.

For those who are looking for something more mechanical, check out my Pathfinder character conversion guide for Captain America over on the Character Conversions page of my blog Improved Initiative. And don't forget to check out the growing list of Alignment Deep Dives, as well. Lastly, for more gaming and geek-related content, feel free to take a spin through my full Vocal archive!

A Good Man (Who Does What He Has To)

While there have been dozens of writers and hundreds of story arcs for Steve over the years, for this particular dive we're going to focus on the MCU version of him. It's the one most people are familiar with, and it boils down the essential nature of his character in a lot of meaningful ways.

And right from the start, we see Steve's chaotic nature at work.

Like a great deal of men of his generation, Steve volunteered for service with the army. Too puny, and with too many health conditions, he was rejected... several times. He specifically applied multiple times and gave different addresses for different offices, essentially trying to sneak past the rules and regulations that kept him out of the army. It was what drew Dr. Erskine's attention to him in the first place. And, of course, Steve's iconic answer when the doctor asked him if he wanted to kill Nazis.

"I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies, I don't care where they're from."

We have established in this one scene that Steve cares about protecting other people, and that he wants to help. We've established he doesn't want to kill anyone, but we get the sense that he will if there's no other way. We also see that he doesn't think for a second to commit a fairly major crime by falsifying his reports not once, but five, separate times.

This Isn't a One-Off Incident, Either

A single incident does not decide your alignment. However, Steve's attempt to falsify his reports to get into the army is far from the only incident. Small things, like him bringing down the flagpole in order to reach the flag on the training base (something he clearly was not supposed to do, but which achieved the goal all the same) are a perfect example. He directly defied orders and went AWOL to fight his way through the enemy line to rescue Bucky and the Howling Commandos. He ignored authority to go digging through storage containers to find that SHIELD was hoarding salvaged weapons from HYDRA.

And the list goes on.

It isn't just his mental flexibility and willingness to go in unexpected directions (tricking HYDRA agents into thinking he'd also been compromised so they'd hand over the Tesseract without a fight is one of the best examples we've seen on the big screen). What puts Steve firmly in the chaotic category rather than the lawful is that he has no set code he follows. There are no rules of engagement other than his own sense of what is good and moral. Unlike Robocop who has a pre-programmed series of initiatives he must follow, or a character like Judge Dredd who's bound to the city's penal code, Steve focuses on reaching the goal.

More to the point, though, he does things his way. He shrugs off any attempt to put a leash on his actions (such as the Sarcovia Accords we saw in Civil War), and we get the sense that while he may work with people, he will never truly work for someone. Even his last turn on the screen (at time of writing, at least) was to go off and live his own life in the past without telling anyone other than his best friend. He didn't clear it with anyone, he didn't ask permission... he just did what felt right.

In short, he's a loose-cannon who plays by his own rules, who refuses to stay down, and there's never a question that Steve's heart and moral center are in the right place. His primary concern is freedom, for himself and for others, even if that means giving people the freedom to make decisions he doesn't personally like or agree with. Even if you're the next best thing to a god, he'll go toe-to-toe with you if it means protecting people.

Which slots perfectly into the Chaotic Good alignment square.

superheroes
Neal Litherland
Neal Litherland
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Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

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