The U.S. Army has always loved its fictional, star-spangled avenger and brother-in-arms, Captain America. Since he served in the Army, he received the benefits of being a soldier. Logically, this would entitle him to back pay for the 66 years he spent frozen in ice.
Steve Rogers was a scrawny kid who served his country in World War II. Because his heart was pure, he was given the super-soldier serum, thus becoming Captain America. To keep Captain America’s backstory of service as a World War II hero relevant regardless of era, Rogers was frozen in ice and thawed out years later.
66 years is a long time to spend frozen. Fan theories have surfaced regarding how much, exactly, he would be owed when he finally came to. This caught the attention of an Army spokesman who clarified that, if he were real, Rogers would have received back pay.
In the comics, this was answered briefly and never mentioned again in Captain America #312. He’s given a check for “almost a million dollars,” which he tries to refuse. He then decides to use the money to set up a hotline through which citizens can reach him for help — because Captain America is that kind guy.
Marvel’s sliding timeline is confusing, so it’s hard to fact-check that amount. After all, based on comic continuity, it’s only been about 18 years since Spider-Man was bitten (and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man premiered 19 years ago — feel old yet?), so let’s take the writer’s word and move on. Things get more interesting, however, if we focus on the current, Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Cap and calculate his back pay.
A Redditor, Anon33249038, the user who grabbed the attention of the previously mentioned Army spokesman, did the math to include the Army’s 1945 O-3 pay grade (including biannual raises) all the way up to the start of 2011’s The Avengers. His total amount owed would be a staggering $3,154,619.52, adjusted for inflation.
The spokesman pointed out many missing variables in the equation, including the fact that Rogers’ $313.50 was paid quarterly instead of monthly, misinterpreted pay scales and any unaccounted for promotions while Capt. Rogers was listed as missing until he was dropped from roll. Which is confusing because he was presumed dead until Nick Fury found him just before The Avengers.
The more accurate amount, given all the variables, comes from the folks at Nerdist. Since he was never officially promoted to Major, the time-in-service pay increases stop at 18 years, and calculating pay monthly for 66 years at the same rate, adjusting for inflation, gives you a grand total of $4,692,152.56 owed to Captain America. They reached this by adjusting his $375,474.00 for inflation until 2011.
However, DFAS has never had to deal with a 66-year gap for a frozen-in-time, super-serum-infused hero having to adjust each paycheck for inflation. But, when the military gives back-pay, they don’t usually factor inflation or yearly increases.
The solution is much simpler than everyone made it out to be. If he were to be paid at more current rates, his total amount is a similar $4,782,888.00 in just base pay alone. Granted, Captain America would probably turn that check down, just like in the comics… if the VA didn’t try to renegotiate it down to an “almost a million” first.