Captain America, the pride, joy and protector of the American people! He is the physical embodiment of all things liberty and justice! Since his debut in the 1940's, Ol' Cap has blossomed from his purpose as nothing more than a Nazi punching, catchphrase using WWII propaganda, in to a memorable and historical geek culture icon!
Steve Rogers, the man behind the mask is one of the most popular comic book characters, and is a staple of Marvel's history! So when Chris Evans brought him to the screen, as a central part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comic book fans were overjoyed!
Since his MCU debut in Captain America: The First Avenger, Chris has been absolutely killing it as the cryo-froze hero, appearing in more MCU movies like [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973), The Avengers and its sequel [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035).
His newest movie, [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) is coming out next year, and if its title is any indication, it's set to shake the world of the patriotic Captain. FOREVER.
See, rumor has it that this movie could very well spell the end for Captain America, as in, the definite end. While it's unconfirmed, Marvel's Civil War, the comic that the film is based on, does conclude with the death of the hero.
Because of this, many believe that the film will end the same way. I don't buy it though. Mainly because it's simply too predictable. The MCU has done a great job paving its own story line path, while copying minor details from the source material.
But Cap's death it not a minor detail, if it turns out that they're just going to copy the book, that's a straight up spoiler 8 years in the making (Civil War started in 2006, and ended in 2007)! There's no way they'd do that, it's simply too anticlimactic. But regardless of whether or not I think Captain America will die in Civil War, I do believe that Steve Rogers will eventually pass up the mantle.
See, the Captain America death rumors don't end there, they also say that Bucky, Cap's old war frienemy, is going to take over the Captain America duties. I believe that with Chris Evans' contract nearly up, and Captain America's general importance and popularity in the MCU, this could be true. Not to mention that this wouldn't be the first time that someone else wore the iconic feathered mask.
In fact, it happens pretty much all the time in the comics. To prove it, here are 4 times somebody other than Steve Rogers donned the red, white and blue suit and became the 'Star-Spangled Hero'!
1. Bucky Barnes
Turns out, Bucky becoming Captain America in the MCU isn't that much of a stretch, because it was something that happened in the comics; and it was a rather large story line too.
Bucky was Cap's best friend and sort of sidekick back during World War II. He was like the Robin to Rogers' Batman. No really, he had the eye mask, the spandex, and the adolescent nature that really made you question whether or not he was underage, or just had a severe case of baby face.
Like Robin, Bucky would eventually mature and take over his mentor/friend's legacy, after said mentor temporarily died (anybody remember when Dick Grayson was Batman? No? Alright...). But his story in-between was lot more akin to that of Red Hood's than Nightwing's.
After a terrible plane explosion involving him, Captain America and members of the evil organization Hydra caused Cap to fall from the sky and into the icy depths below to begin his infamous anti-aging technique, Bucky was presumed to have died on the plane. In reality, he managed to jump off the plane just as the explosion set off, surviving, but at the cost of his left arm.
A couple of years later, a Russian submarine, in the hopes of uncovering the frozen remains of Captain America and creating an army of super soldiers, instead found the frozen body of Bucky. With Cap nowhere to be found, they took Bucky instead, outfitting him with a new bionic arm and memories of hatred for the West to replace those pesky memories of being an American hero. Bucky was given a new name as well, The Winter Soldier.
Though introduced as a supervillain, the Winter Soldier would slowly transform into more of an anti-hero, in the style of fellow super cool anti-heroes The Punisher and Red Hood. But because of his troubled past and take no prisoners attitude, his time as Captain America, after Rogers had died in Civil War, was less than friendly.
After learning that Cap's dying wish was for Tony to rescue Barnes from his own madness, and find a worthy successor of the Cap identity, both men agreed that Bucky was the one Cap would have wanted to keep the Captain America name relevant. Bucky donned a similar Cap suit built by Captain America, and wielded the iconic shield, along with some other weapons. Bucky's way of handling bad guys, along with his unwillingness to cooperate with the US Government and S.H.I.E.L.D caused many to disapprove of his time as Cap.
Despite this, heroes like Falcon, Black Widow and even the revived Steve Rogers believed that the Captain America name was safe with Bucky; and so Steve, ready to retire, allowed Bucky to keep on using the name and suit. Of course, we all know that Steve eventually took the name back, but that's a different story.
2. John Walker
Bucky isn't the only gun-toting former villain to take over Captain America's job while he's away on "vacation" (death or retirement are synonym's for vacation in the Marvel Universe).
John Walker grew up idolizing his brother, who had died in the Vietnam War. As soon as he came of age, John enlisted in the army, hoping to prove to his country that he was a hero, like his older bro. After leaving the army, and feeling like he proved nothing, John decided to undergo the Power Broker process in order to compete in the Universal Class Wrestling Federation.
The Power Broker process allowed Walker to gain strength on a superhuman level, but he decided not to use it to compete in the UCWF; instead, he donned a suit and became Super-Patriot, the hero he always wanted to be!
Despite his good intentions, John was less a hero and more a villain. Letting his jealousy of do-gooder supreme Captain America get in the way, John allowed many citizens to get hurt, even paying accomplices to intentionally harm others, just to discredit Cap. He was basically like the Marvel Comics Universe version of Incrediboy/Syndrome, but to his credit, he wasn't as bad.
After too many run-ins with the Commission on Superhuman Activities, a government agency that regulates superhero activity, Cap decided to retire from the hero business, allowing the media adored Super-Patriot to swoop in for a quick costume change!
Unlike Bucky's turn in the suit, Walker's Captain America was a government operative, following orders and covering up messes whenever they saw fit. Though his role as Cap was big, it wasn't a lengthy one, as the real Cap would eventually hear tell of an impostor masquerading as him and put an end to it.
To his credit, Walker had learned the errors of his ways, and after returning the Captain America suit, almost getting assassinated, having his memories altered, getting a slightly different costume, having his memories re-altered, and then finally cutting his ties with the Commission, the true patriotic hero known as the U.S.Agent was born!
And though he may not use the Captain America title anymore, it's honestly a huge surprise that Cap didn't sue over the likeness of his costume. Because really, it's like wearing the Iron Man suit and painting it green and purple, and then going around town, fighting crime and calling yourself Metal Guy. It's got to be copyright infringement, right?
3. Clint Barton
Yep, Clint Barton, the greatest archer in the world, and my favorite Marvel superhero, was once Captain America. It comes as less of shock once you consider that Hawkeye is secretly Cap's #1 fan, respecting the soldier and even modeling his heroic career after him.
Mix that with the fact that Hawkeye has a tendency to switch up identities, from the earth-shattering Goliath, to the bushido samurai-style Ronin, and it's not too hard to believe that in the midst of Cap's absence (he leaves A LOT) Ol' Hawks would pick up the flag-waving slack.
After the assassination of Captain America at the end of Civil War, Tony, in search of a worthy successor, didn't actually go to Bucky first. Sorry Bucky...
Instead, he went to the 'Lavender-Clad Avenger', offering him the role. Here's where things get a little interesting though; like Cap, Hawkeye was also "dead". See, after Scarlet Witch went a bit bonkers, she erased Hawkeye and many other heroes from existence, and then back into existence, and then out of existence, and then—you get the point.
The indecisive enchantress finally decided to keep Hawkeye around, but her and the majority of the world didn't know this; only Doctor Strange and Tony Stark were aware that the archer was alive. Stark, aware of Barton's respect and admiration for the fallen Cap, offered him the suit.
Clint's time as Captain America wasn't long however. In fact...it lasted a few minutes. See, shortly after getting the suit, Clint ran into the Young Avengers members Patriot and the new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. They convinced him that using the Captain America name was wrong, and so he went back to Tony and refused; believing the best way to honor Steve would be to put it to rest.
You could imagine his disapproval when Bucky started running around as some sort of Punisher/Captain America fusion character. Speaking of...
4. Frank Castle
Yet ANOTHER post-Civil War Captain America that rose up to continue the Captain America legacy! Seriously, Cap's death was like a really good job position opened up, and the job required that you be an extremely talented cosplayer!
Surprisingly, one of the heroes to don the old red, white and blue was none other than resident anti-hero, Frank Castle, a.k.a The Punisher.
What's funny is that this is yet ANOTHER pre-Bucky take on a new Captain America! Meaning that there were two heroes who used Steve Roger's hero moniker before Bucky got around to it. Just...not your day is it Buchanan?
To be fair though, Frank wasn't asked by anyone to take over the Captain 'Murica identity, he decided that all on his own. See, Steve and Frank may not have always seen eye-to-eye, but The Punisher had a high respect for the war hero, holding him to the highest regards. Feeling someone had to don the iconic costume, Frank took it upon himself to continue his legacy.
Of course, Frank couldn't do it without adding a little spin to it. In addition to adding his trademark skull logo on the chest-plate of a modified Cap suit, Castle also added some...minor modifications; like grenades, assault rifles, grenade launchers, shotguns and an RPG. Because of these tiny little extra details, Frank became known as Captain Punisher, if that isn't just the coolest name I've ever heard!
Of course Captain Punisher would eventually retire, and the mantle would land in the hands of James 'Bucky' Barnes, until Steve came back that is.
So there you have it, four of the members of the extreme Captain America fan club! It may seem hard to believe, but there have actually been more than 4 people who have temporarily taken over Steve Rogers' job! So because of that, I may come back and revisit the 'First Avenger' on a later IDENTITY CRISIS.
Until then, which alternate Cap was your favorite?