Author's Note: For the sake of simplifying, we're gonna go with Marvel Cinematic Universe origin stories — which can differ from comic book history — sprinkled with a few bits of comic book lore to fill in movie gaps. This article therefore contains spoilers from Marvel (and X-Men) films.
Superheroes are a wildly popular storytelling archetype — and for good reason. They are ordinary people pulled into an extraordinary world, where special abilities or extensive training help them in the fight against evil.
Just think — any one of us could get zapped with radiation and become flying ninja rock stars with the ability to save the world or the entire universe...isn't that exciting?
But some heroes felt the call to serve before being recruited by special agencies — some even before having heightened abilities.
Here's a list of five superheroes you should buy a drink on Veterans Day:
1. Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (obviously)
Cool guys are allowed to get loose with salutes. Just ask a fighter pilot. (Image via GIPHY)
Steve Rogers is the ultimate example of patriotism, bravery, and sense of duty. In fact, that's why he was chosen for Super Soldier Serum project in the first place.
During World War II, Rogers made multiple attempts to enlist, but failed to meet the physical requirements. But his tenacity caught the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine, who recognized that Rogers' attitude made him the perfect Project Rebirth candidate.
Rogers began his career doing propaganda to support the war effort, but he would eventually be unleashed in Europe in the fight against the Nazi faction, HYDRA.
His military service ended when he sacrificed himself to save the United States from a HYDRA-coordinated WMD attack.
2. Sergeant James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes AKA Winter Soldier
Fun fact: This guy is my superhero crush. Big time. (Image via GIPHY)
A childhood friend of Steve Rogers, Bucky served in the Army during World War II with the 107th Infantry Regiment. While fighting HYDRA, Bucky was taken as a prisoner of war before being rescued by Rogers; the two subsequently formed the elite combat unit known as the Howling Commandos.
During a mission to capture a HYDRA scientist, Bucky was thrown from a moving train, plummeting to his presumed death. Unbeknownst to the Commandos, Bucky survived, and would become a brainwashed HYDRA operative known as Winter Soldier.
3. Nick Fury
Dammit, Samuel L. Jackson is so cool. (Image via GIPHY)
While perhaps best known for his role as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury first served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War, achieving the rank of colonel.
His skills and experience with espionage were put to use against the Soviet Union and primed him for his position at S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers Initiative.
4. James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Wolverine
Maybe... (Image via GIPHY)
Wolverine's a Canadian, but we're not gonna hold that against him, eh?
His mutation — accelerated healing powers and longevity; heightened senses, speed, and stamina; and retractable bone claws (later replaced with nearly indestructible adamantium) — render him a powerful fighting machine.
Born in 1832, Wolverine fled his childhood home and fought as a soldier in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War (that's a century of combat, btw).
When he was discovered by Maj. William Stryker — a military scientist biased against mutants and intent on destroying them — Wolverine's military career came to an end, leading him on a path towards the X-Men.
5. Charles Xavier AKA Professor X
Yes, the professor is reading your thoughts right now. And no, he doesn't approve. (Image via GIPHY)
Okay. So that whole "cinematic universe" statement at the beginning? We're gonna ignore it for this one (COME AT ME). In the comic books, Charles Xavier served in the Army during the Korean War. His mutation made him particularly skilled with search and rescue missions.
But even badass mind-reading Professor X isn't safe from Jody — while away at war, Xavier receives a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend, who leaves him for an old flame.
Did we leave out any of your favorites? Leave a comment and let us know!