Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, our hero Steve Rogers has left behind the shield and identity of Captain America. This happened after the ownership of the shield was clarified as belonging to creator Howard Stark. While the two heroes (Captain America and Iron Man) sort of made up at the close of the film, we last see Rogers breaking his team out of prison without his iconic uniform, and the shield left in the hands of Tony Stark.
Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo did confirm that Steve Rogers was in fact leaving behind the moniker of Captain America, which is nothing new for the character. He previously left behind the stars and stripes following an altercation with a corrupt government, and Rogers felt he could no longer morally serve as their figurehead. He became Nomad, the man without a country, in one of the worst costumes we’ve ever seen – it’s bad.
He returned to the role of Captain America for a brief time until again he was forced to resign, this time by the government. He adopted a black version of his iconic suit and became known simply as the Captain, until once again taking back the role he originated. So there is a precedent in the source material for this.
Recently Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and current mastermind behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, added a little fuel to the fire during a recent interview with Collider. He was asked if a Captain America movie had to star Steve Rogers, and his answer was pretty interesting:
It’s a good question and if we look back at the comic books as our inspiration and as the well from which this all springs, then the answer is no… I’m not saying we’ll do it in the movie but I’ve read Captain America comics that don’t have Steve Rogers in them.
A pretty non-committal answer from a man known for his non-committal answers, but it does open up some room for speculation. After all, as he mentions in the comics there are a few successors to the role of Captain America, with one currently active in the comics today! So let’s take a look at 5 possibilities for who could be wearing the stars and stripes in another Captain America movie, presuming that the MCU could follow any of those paths.
Sam Wilson AKA The Falcon
The most obvious choice to wield the shield is Rogers’ best present-day friend Sam Wilson, played by Anthony Mackie. Wilson has featured in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Captain America: Civil War. His presence in the MCU has grown exponentially since he first appeared in The Winter Soldier, and is also headlining his own title in the comics as – you guessed it – Captain America. While Mackie’s Sam Wilson is currently on the outs with the government after his breakout from the Raft with Steve Rogers, he is one of the few incarcerated “Secret Avengers” that still has a relatively good standing with Tony Stark and the government. This could mean that he may be the top choice when it comes time to find a new Captain America.
Bucky Barnes AKA Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan is the next best choice to take over as Captain America, not only because of his huge nine-picture deal with Marvel Studios – which was a larger deal than current Cap Chris Evans signed – but because he also did so in the comics. Following the comic version of Civil War, Rogers surrenders to SHIELD after the huge superhuman battle that devastates a part of New York City. As he was led to his trial in chains, Steve Rogers was apparently assassinated by Crossbones, though really it was a brainwashed Sharon Carter using a time-shifting bullet – because comics. After an exhaustive search to find the next Captain America, Rogers will was found, and it was revealed that he wanted Bucky to take on the responsibility of Captain America, which he did. Bucky served as Captain America both on his own and with the New Avengers, until Captain America was recovered from the timestream and eventually resumed the mantle.
Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye
Clint may not have made as big of a splash in the MCU as some of the above options, but he was one of the only characters to actually be able to handle the shield like Steve Rogers, due to his unique marksmanship abilities. This happened during the same post-Civil War story that bequeathed the shield to Bucky Barnes, though Clint was the best choice from SHIELD up until that point. He declined, as he was in a bit of a bad place having been both killed and resurrected very recently in the comics. While Clint is also on the outs with SHIELD and Tony Stark following the cinematic Civil War, his long history with SHIELD and potential ability with the shield make him an interesting choice. Not to mention we all want to see more of Jeremy Renner as Clint in his own movie anyway, and this could be the only way that happens.
John Walker AKA U.S. Agent
The wild card selection, John Walker is a SHIELD agent who previously served as Captain America, during an ill-fated experiment with the super soldier serum that drove Walker a little insane while also endowing him with Cap’s strength, speed, and agility. After he was cured of his mental instability he retained his powers and donned Cap’s old black version of his costume, becoming a new hero – the US Agent. The character has been a part of a number of superteams, including Iron Man’s Force Works and Mighty Avengers teams. As he usually sides with Tony and the government’s perspective on superhero matters, he would make for a very controllable Cap for SHIELD. While Walker may not be able to carry a Cap movie on his own, he could prove to be a good substitute before Rogers returns to take back his shield.
Of course, as Feige said there may be no plans to carry on the legacy of Captain America without Steve Rogers. Considering Evans is still set to play Rogers in both Avengers: infinity War and it’s untitled sequel, and new heroes are being introduced to carry the next few phases of the MCU forward, seeing one or more of these characters take on the role might still be a few years away, if it ever happens.
Who would you rather see wield the shield on the big screen? Do you think Steve Rogers should always play Captain America in the MCU or would you like to see some of the other versions of the Sentinel of Liberty? Let us know in the comments section below!