The first time my son saw Captain America, he was three years old. Captain America visited his school, and I heard all about it when I got home from work. We were already a Marvel family because I grew up on Spider-Man comics, but from that day on, my son wanted to be Captain America.
His fourth birthday was his first with a superhero theme. He was, of course, Captain America. After his birthday, he wore his costume all the time. He battled evil and saved the day because he was Captain America.
Within a year, my son would be fighting his own battle. It wasn’t a battle against Hydra or Thanos. Instead, it was a far more relentless, cruel enemy. Epilepsy did to my hero what no other villain could do. It nearly won.
The battle was hard. The seizures wouldn’t stop. The medicine he was given flooded his blood with poison rather than give him superpowers. He couldn’t move or talk for days. But he didn’t give up. He fought just like his hero would, and he recovered. He walked out of that hospital and was riding his bike within a few months.
That was four years ago — four years filled with seizures, and struggle, and limitations. My son is still not seizure free. In spite of all the medication, therapy, and the ketogenic diet, his enemy lingers on and makes its presence known every day.
But my Captain America never gives up. Those four years were also filled with progress, and victories, and inspiration. They were filled with a universe of heroes.
As this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ends with Avengers: Endgame, I looked back at the last few years and saw how much of an impact the movies and the heroes in them have impacted our lives. Even though my son was wearing the costume before he saw his first Avengers movie, seeing his hero on the screen made him feel like he was up there saving the day.
Especially when life for my son got hard, he had these heroes to look up to and to inspire him. And so he would put on his costume when he needed to be brave. And he would grab his shield when the only thing he could do was fight.
Even to this day, if you find yourself walking around Philadelphia and you happen to see Captain America, there is a good chance that it is my son. My Avenger. My hero.