Henry Heywood Jr. (Captain Steel)

Legends of Tomorrow brought us to the 1970s, as the team infiltrates NASA to stop Thawne from obtaining the final piece of the Spear of Destiny. In Moonshot we also meet a new character, as Hank Heywood cheats on the results of a school contest to meet, even if briefly, his son Henry Jr., who ends up meeting his own future son Nathan instead. Apparently, Hank Jr. will grow up to be a distant father for Nate, but maybe this meeting was enough to change things. In the comics, however, Hank Jr. is not Nate’s father, rather his uncle, as he is father to another Heywood superhero…at least on New Earth. After The New 52, on Prime Earth, Hank Jr. is nobody’s father, and he himself is the superhero. Let’s see together both of them (even because there’s not much to say about the first version of the character).

Originally, Henry Heywood Jr. was born the son of Hank Heywood, who used to be the war hero Commander Steel. Since he was a kid, Hank Jr. was enchanted by the war stories of his father, and dreamt of becoming a hero just like him when he grew up. Needless to say, as soon as he was of age he entered the military, and he distinguished himself for being an ace pilot in the US Airforce. Somewhere along the line he got married with an unnamed woman, but that happened in the worst moment possible: the United States of America had just started a new war in Vietnam, and Hank Jr. was called to active duty. He only had time to bid his young wife goodbye before leaving, and when he joined his comrades in arms the woman was pregnant with his son. In Vietnam, Hank Jr. met Dale Gunn, a man who soon became his best friends: they won a number of battles together, and they rejoiced together when Hank learnt that his wife had given birth to a beautiful boy, Henry III. The two became so close that they promised each other they would have taken care of the other’s family if anything happened to them during the war. And something, obviously, happened: when Hank III was just a couple of months old, Hank Jr.’s plane was shot down by enemy forces, and he died in the impact. Since his wife died of breast cancer a short time later, Dale Gunn kept his promise, and raised his friend’s son as if he was his own, helped by Hank Heywood Sr., who took care of his grandchild. The memory of Hank Jr. inspired his son to become a superhero like his grandfather, going by the name Steel, to honor his family’s heroic tradition. Then, reality was reshaped by yet another crisis, and Hank Jr. was wiped away…but was soon to be reborn on Earth 2 in the universe that replaced the old one, Prime Earth.

In the new reality, Henry Heywood Jr. was a young Asian man born in the Philippines, while his father, Henry Sr., was an eccentric scientist. When he was born, Hank Jr. was diagnosed with a rare congenital defect, that would have consumed his bones until, before his eighteenth birthday, his skeleton would have become dust. Henry Sr. spent all his time, energy and resources to find a cure for his dying son, and eventually he submitted him to an experimental treatment, bonding his fragile and decaying skeleton with a metal alloy of his own invention; not only the metal managed to sustain the young man’s skeleton, but it also gave him superhuman powers, such as strength and invulnerability and mechanokinesis…unfortunately, as an unpredictable side effect, it also prevented Hank Jr. from having any feelings. The results, however, were astonishing, and Hank Sr. decided to give the data of his work to the World Army to mass-produce superhumans like his son…but his lab was raided by Parademons from Apokolips, at the orders of Steppenwolf. While Hank Jr. fought off the invaders, his father blew himself out along the lab, wanting to prevent Steppenwolf from obtaining his work to enhance Parademons. Left alone and one of his kind, Hank Jr. joined the World Army as part of the Wonders of the World, the elite superhuman forces created to repel invasions such as the one from Apokolips. In the World Army, Heywood trained with other superpowered individuals such as Al PrattAlan Scott and Jay Garrick, and he adopted the moniker Captain Steel. He was at the orders of Commander Amar Khan, the officer who took care of the Wonders in the World Army, and he was sent to a number of missions, either alone or with other Wonders. When the scientist Terry Sloane accidentally opened some Fire Pits left on Earth by the Parademons, Captain Steel was the one selected to explore the Pit in Rio de Janeiro, a mission that would have proven different from anyone before it…and much more dangerous.

The first Hank Heywood Jr. is a selfless man who firmly believes in the necessity of putting his life on the first line to protect his country, a man who’s been dreaming of being a soldier all his life, and who’s now an ace pilot in the Air Force. The second one is a young man unable to feel anything, as his emotions have been taken away by the same intervention that saved his life. As Captain Steel, the metal bonded to his organism grants him superhuman strength and durability, as well as the ability to control some machinery with his mind. Despite not feeling anything at all, Captain Steel is firmly committed to his father’s will to put his unique talents at the service of humanity, and he selflessly puts himself on the first line, using his inability to feel fear as the first talent to put at the world’s service.


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