How The Comic Book Death Of Captain America Changed ‘The Colbert Report’ Forever

Stephen Colbert loves his Captain America shield. It’s been a mainstay of his Comedy Central persona for the entire duration of The Colbert Report. And during the final episode, he brandished his star-spangled Marvel artifact and road off into the sunset with Santa Claus.

A befitting end to an “Amurican” hero, but perhaps you didn’t quite understand the true significance of the shield. So we’re about to school yah, bro!

A year after The Colbert Report kicked off, our beloved leader/political guru/master of the backdoor compliment played host to Marvel Comics editor Joe Quesada. As a huge fan of Captain America, Colbert was all too eager to talk about The First Avenger’s return in an all-new comic book arc of the time, Civil War.

In the story, a tragic event prompted the US government to issue a law mandating the registration of all super-powered individuals. As a civil-liberties-vs-personal-freedoms framing device, Iron Man and Captain America squared off on opposite sides. The title has since become one of the most famous and widely read comic runs in the Marvel canon.

Watch a clip of Colbert and Quesada chattin’ it up in the clip below:

Steve Rogers as Captain America, however, never made it out of Civil War alive. Knowing that Colbert was such a fan of the hero, Quesada did something that would forever change the course of The Colbert Report: on the March 12, 2007 episode, he bequeathed Captain America’s weapon-of-choice to Colbert.

Colbert was always the Avenger of political talk shows, so it seemed fitting. Afterwards, that shield became a mainstay on the show and Colbert’s title as the new Cap.

In July of this past year, though, he had to officially give up that title. Quesada appeared, once again, on The Colbert Report to make the major announcement that Sam Wilson, aka the African-American hero known as Falcon, would become the new Captain America in the comics. To see something like a new Marvel arc announced with such grandeur and fanfare on a major television show seemed insane. But Marvel had been experiencing a renaissance of geekdom with all their movies dominating the box office, and this further proved that the geeks were here to stay.

So, it was only fitting that when Colbert closed out his last show he would bring along the Captain America shield to his new time slot as the host of The Late Show. It’s also even crazier when you realize that the Civil War comic book arc, which got heavy promotion on one of Colbert’s earliest episodes, which led to the comedian claiming the shield for himself, is becoming a major blockbuster in 2016.

And now we’re full circle.

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