Chris Evans' contract with Marvel is fast approaching its fulfillment, and based on comments Evans himself has made regarding acting and his desire to pursue a career as a director, it is a very good possibility that he won't be renewing that contact. Currently, Evans is contracted through Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 and that's it. This has brought with it much speculation about what could become of the character, and the character's role both in the MCU as well as on the Avengers team. With the next solo Captain America movie being an adaptation of the 2007 event Civil War, which culminated in Captain America's apparent death in Captain America #25, many are speculating that the death of Steve Rogers and the subsequent replacement of Rogers by Bucky Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier, might become a part of the MCU within the next few years. There are many routes, however, that they could take to replace Chris Evans and fill that role on the team, however, I don't believe there should be a new Captain America. At least, not exactly.
It should be noted that we are also due to lose Robert Downey, Jr, most likely after Infinity War as well, but Iron Man may already have his replacement in place in the form of War Machine. Only time will tell on that front, but it does seem likely, especially if you've seen [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035). As for Captain America, there really is no replacement obviously waiting in the wings. Bucky does seem to be a likely candidate, however, that is based solely on what has happened in the comics and the Winter Soldier movie so far hasn't really done anything to set that up, of course this may very likely change as Sebastian Stan is signed on to appear in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), and the there has seemed to be a theme running through the Captain America series so far of the relationship between Cap and Bucky. There is every reason to believe the exploration of this relationship will continue in Civil War, so that movie may see Bucky become the obvious surrogate Cap that Rhodey currently is as the surrogate Iron Man. But nothing is certain, by any stretch of the imagination. Even if, however, Bucky does inherit the shield of Captain America, I don't think he should necessarily inherit the name, as he did in the comics. Instead, the character replacing Captain America should take the name and costume of US Agent.
In the comics, US Agent is John Walker, who first appeared in Captain America 323 as Super-Patriot. He has been the surrogate Captain America in the West Coast Avengers, as well as the short-lived replacement for that team, Force Works. Now, as I said, Marvel could still give Bucky the Captain America mantle, but the US Agent name. In fact, I think that is actually the best case scenario because it would mean that they wouldn't have to introduce a new character, as they would if they ultimately used the John Walker character. Now, before you start grabbing your pitch-forks and rioting in the comments, keep in mind that James Rhodes was never Iron Patriot, even though they used that name and armor design for War Machine in Iron Man 3. There is nothing wrong with that. It allows for fans of that character to at least see a version of it on screen, even though Norman Osborne is attached to the Spider-Man rights and, until recently, wouldn't have been able to appear as Iron Patriot. And to be real honest, even though Sony and Marvel have struck their deal, Dark Reign may never be something we see made into a film anyway. So we got Iron Patriot as James Rhodes in the cinematic continuity for a movie, there is no reason they couldn't do the same thing with Bucky and just call him US Agent instead of Captain America. It would give US Agent fans a chance to at least see a version of that character, even if it isn't the exact version from the comics.
Now, it is also completely possible that Marvel doesn't go the Bucky as Captain America route. I don't know how many movies Sebastian Stan is contracted for, and everyone does need to keep in mind that it will always be at his discretion whether or not to sign on for more. Sometimes I think people really tend to forget that movies deviate from comics, and that there is no way around this most of the time. I can't say this enough, because it really seems to fly right past a lot of fans. These are adaptations, they are not, for the most part, straight translations of the source material, so it is very possible we may not ever see Bucky Barnes wield the shield of Captain America at all. So maybe we will see John Walker turn up in the MCU at some point. If this does end up being the case, I think the best thing to do on that front is to introduce him on Agents of SHIELD first, provided that series is still going strong 3 or 4 years from now. Introduce him as either a recurring character or a regular for just one season, show him being a SHIELD agent, and set him up as someone who is capable and deserving of becoming the new Captain America.
Whoever ends up becoming the next Captain America, or US Agent if Marvel does end up going that route, there is one thing that I really want to see out of the character; the energy shield the character used during his time with the team Force Works. I think visually it could be very interesting, and much of Captain America's shield is currently being done by CGI anyway, so it isn't likely to cost much more than the current system, especially when you take into account the cost saved by not having to make practical shields at all. Whatever Marvel ends up doing, I sincerely hope they don't just recast the characters and keep going on with the adventures of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and company. I would like to see a legacy that gets passed down from character to character. It is something that, while flirted with in comics, is almost never realized and carried on long-term. I liked Wally West taking over as the Flash, and was really disappointed when they brought back Barry Allen. I loved it both times Dick Grayson became Batman and would love to see that done permanently, even though I realize that will never happen. Legacy characters bring new dimensions to the characters and keep the material fresh and new, and this is needed much more in movies than in comics. I think passing down the mantles of characters and keeping the characters fresh will keep the MCU interesting and could help the franchise to thrive until 2099 and beyond.
So what do you think? Who should replace Cap? Bucky? Walker? Should he be a new Captain America or should he take the US Agent name? Sound off in the comments below.