How Much Back Pay Would the Government Owe Captain America?
Policy + Politics

How Much Back Pay Would the Government Owe Captain America?

Paramount Pictures

Captain America has bigger fights on his hands, but a devoted fan on Reddit recently crunched the numbers and found that the federal government would owe the (fictional) hero more than $3 million in back pay.

The U.S. Army (the real one) isn’t taking that number lightly.

For those of you who don’t know, Captain America is the superhero identity of Steve Rogers, a scrawny, 4-F reject from Brooklyn who volunteers to become America’s first super soldier and fight the Nazis and terrorist group Hydra during World War II. Near the end of his tour of duty, Cap was lost in the Artic and remained missing from 1945 until 2011 — hence he was never discharged from the U.S. Army.

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Factoring in things like the service’s 1945 pay scale and biannual raises, the Reddit fan theorized that by the time the First Avenger was fished out of the ice and thawed in 2011 he was owed a little more than $3.1 million.

That’s figure is debatable, an Army spokesman told Business Insider.

"If Capt. Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) were not a fictional character and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and recovery actually real, he may actually be entitled to receive back pay," the spokesman told the site in an email.

"However, a wide variety of variables would have to be taken into consideration to actually calculate the true amount of back pay to which he would be entitled to receive; given that he is a fictional character we cannot truly capture all of those variables accurately."

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The spokesman added that the Reddit math had problems: "Yes, it is correct that the O-3 (Army captain) pay grade in 1945 was $313.50; however, it was a monthly pay rate vs. quarterly as the original poster indicated.”

Furthermore, the fanboy calculus failed to account for "any potential promotions that may have been bestowed upon Rogers while he was listed in a 'Missing' status."

So the $3.1 million figure is probably low, but the Army payday still wouldn’t put Cap in Tony Stark territory.