02. Ancient Mediterranean, Art & Humanities

Student Series! Captain America vs Gilgamesh

Student Series! Captain America vs Gilgamesh

The Characters

Steven Grant Rogers shares several similarities with Gilgamesh; both were extreme in every aspect of their personalities, as Doctor Erskine told Steve, “[the serum] amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse.” Similarly, to Gilgamesh’s “Surpassing all other kings, heroic in stature…” paired with his temperance of a “…wild bull on the rampage.”

Bucky Barnes is remarkably similar to Enkidu in several respects. Perhaps the most relevant similarity is the relationship between Steve and Bucky with Gilgamesh and Enkidu. This is evidenced by their “homosocial behavior, in that their love is a form of brotherly, masculine love that reveals the nature of male relationships in Mesopotamian culture.”

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Peggy Carter is everything good in this world and flawlessly uses her womanhood to get the job done, much like Shamhat, “was not shy; she took his wind away.” Similarly to the way Peggy rejects Bucky by telling him she won’t go dancing until she “finds the right partner,” i.e. Steve, thus taking the wind out of Bucky’s sails.

Other characters reflect the rest of the cast of Gilgamesh as well: for instance Utanapishtim is remarkably similar to the tesseract, in the sense that both represent power and immortality, and both play a valuable role in the driving action of the story. As well as Humbaba and Hydra both being the main cause of Enkidu and Bucky’s deaths, respectively. Lastly, Howard Stark bares remarkable similarities to Shamash due to both of their tendencies to “hang around to help out Gilgamesh [Steve] and Enkidu [Bucky].”

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Their Stories

Both The Epic of Gilgamesh and Captain America: The First Avenger are stories based around the deep and profound bromances of two super-human forces. After Gilgamesh and Steve lose their best friend in a battle against a force of evil, they begin to seek out a force they don’t completely understand. In Gilgamesh’s case, immortality, and in Steve’s case, the Tesseract. Both stories also involve leading male characters with extraordinary abilities, that are almost god-like in their reach.

Both stories also have underlying moral interpretations, warning against the curse that is immortality. Gilgamesh risks everything in order to try to achieve it, only to have it taken from him at the last second in a devastating twist. Whereas Steve sacrifices everything for the greater good of the world, and is still cursed to continue living with neither his best girl (Peggy) or his best friend (Bucky).

Unlike in The Epic of Gilgamesh, in Captain America, sex is not viewed as a form of civility or societal norm. Also, Captain America may be supernaturally strong like Gilgamesh, but it is what is inside that makes him truly heroic, as opposed to Gilgamesh’s brash and rude behavior.  Steve does the right thing because he “doesn’t like bullies,” whereas by every stretch Gilgamesh was, in fact, a bully with above average strength. Steve was chosen for Dr. Erikson’s experiments because he did not want to kill anybody, and was willing to put his life on the line for others. i.e. jumping on a dummy grenade during training.


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