As the spiritual precursor to the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War centerpiece, Captain America: Civil War left us with a lot of questions still to be answered. Here's the trailer if you need a little refresher.
Breaking apart the Avengers team along ideological lines was a bold move to make at this stage of the game, along with the introduction of new superheroes Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the long awaited Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose storylines will be shaking out over the next couple of years through their respective solo vehicles.
The now fractured state of the team has thrown the Marvel Cinematic Universe into flux, with lots of potential routes for the narrative to take from here on out. Especially when it comes to Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans).
Oh Captain, My Captain
One such route could be Team Cap going the way of the New/Secret Avengers from the post-Civil War comic books — as some of those heroes who fought against the Superhuman Registration Act went underground as fugitives to create a whole new and entirely separate Avengers team.
At this stage of the comics though Captain America was good and dead — his mantle taken up by James “Bucky” Barnes at Tony Stark's request following the death of Steve Rogers. Cap doesn't return for a good few years, by which point the dust has settled and the Avengers banded together again against Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers.
So this is new territory the MCU is treading, and where Steve Rogers goes from here will be critical to how the rest of Phase 3 shakes out. He is, after all, the First Avenger, the banner under which the team formed. Perhaps the biggest question Civil War left us with was, what will happen to Captain America now? Or, indeed, will there even be a Captain America now?
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Captain America — both in the world of the Marvel Universe and in the text itself — has always been a symbol of truth, the figurehead of Marvel Comics, just as Superman is to DC. The mantle has been passed on before, from Steve Rogers, to Bucky Barnes, to Sam Wilson, but it always coils and curls back to Steve in the end.
And what is a superhero without his trademark imagery? In the case of Captain America, it's not just the star spangled pants that mark him as the figurehead of liberty — it's the shield.
The Hand That Shields The World
When Bucky takes over the Captain America mantle following Steve Rogers's death, he also takes up the shield. And after Steve returns in Captain America: Reborn there's a brief period of time where we have two Captain Americas — Steve with the shield and Bucky with his firearms.
But Steve retires the mantle, passing the shield back to Bucky. The importance of the shield is reinforced again here, with the title of the comic in which this happens being Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield?
In the MCU, and certainly in Civil War, the shield is perhaps more important than ever. It was created for Steve Rogers by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper/John Slattery) — the late father of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and wellspring of his daddy issues. And there's always been a certain tension between Steve and Tony as a result of this.
This was cracked wide open in Civil War when Steve made the decision to stand with his oldest friend against his new comrade, protecting the man who murdered Tony Stark's parents.
After the brutal fight in the Siberian HYDRA outpost between Iron Man, Captain America and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the two renegades emerge victorious after Cap uses his shield to crush the arc reactor of Tony's suit. But as they turn to leave, Tony tells Steve that he no longer deserves to hold the shield that his father made:
"That shield doesn't belong to you. You don't deserve it! My father made that shield!"
In response, Steve drops the shield, leaving it in the hands of Tony Stark. And when he appears later — busting the incarcerated Avengers from the Raft and in Wakanda with Bucky — he is no longer wearing his trademark star-spangled suit.
Has Steve Rogers Cast Aside Captain America?
The question then was: Is Steve Rogers still Captain America after Civil War? In a new interview with the Huffington Post, The Winter Soldier and Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo answered that question. When asked if Cap was still Cap even though he put down his shield, Joe Russo responded:
"I think him dropping that shield is him letting go of that identity. [It's] him admitting that certainly the identity of Captain America was in conflict with the very personal choice that he was making."
So, there you have it. According to the Russo brothers themselves — who are also directing the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War — Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America in the MCU. But what does this mean moving forward?
Betraying the orders of his government is not the same as betraying the principles he fought for for so long, but Steve certainly did put his personal issues before something that could've worked out for the greater good. By choosing to stand by Bucky he has been rejected by the institution that he used to belong to, and in return has rejected it himself.
Shedding the shield and the suit is just a visual marker, but it backs up what the Russos have said about Steve leaving the identity behind. This isn't the first time something like this has happened though, in the comics Steve also went by the name Nomad, and simply, The Captain.
Nomad was an alternative identity adopted by Steve after he left the Captain America mantle behind back in the mid 1970s, after discovering that the government he'd been fighting for was secretly behind the terrorist group Secret Empire. It was a very short-lived moniker, only lasting for four issues before he returned to the role of Captain America, but there is a precedent there for Steve changing his superhero name to fit his ideologies.
So, does this mean we'll see Nomad in Avengers: Infinity War, and not Captain America? Perhaps, but perhaps not, it would be a rather jarring change at this stage in the game, especially for those who aren't as familiar with the comic books.
But at the end of the day, he'll still be there to fight with his friends, whatever purple-faced villains may come their way in Infinity War. Steve Rogers will always be Steve Rogers, and really, that's all we need him to be.
Do you think Steve Rogers not being Captain America will have big implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Sound off in the comments below!
(Source: The Huffington Post)