With [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) around the corner, Steve Rogers' time as Cap may be wining down. Chris Evans' Marvel contract is almost up, so there may be a new Captain America around the corner. But who should it be?
The popular choice: Bucky Barnes
Sebastian Stan has become one of Marvel's most popular actors. His portrayal of the Winter Soldier was one of the main reasons why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best Marvel solo film so far. And it seems like he's on the path to Cap already. As seen in the picture above, Bucky has picked up the shield in both of Cap's solo outings already, and it wouldn't be a far stretch for him to take up the mantle after Civil War. Stan can bring a fresh take on Captain America, and will follow in his best friend's footsteps to lead the Avengers into the Infinity War. In the comics, Captain America was assassinated following the Civil War story line, and Bucky took up the shield in the Death of Captain America/Fallen Son story. If the film follows this aspect of the comics, Bucky is locked on to become the next Captain America.
The transition between Chris Evans' Cap and Stan's version would be smooth, and Bucky's first solo outing (which will surely happen in Phase 4 if he takes the mantle) could adapt the Burden of Dreams story from the comics, where Tony Stark shows Bucky a letter from Steve Rogers which states that the mantle of Cap should continue. Bucky becomes Cap, and takes on A.I.M. (introduced, albeit poorly, in Iron Man 3). This could be a nice, easy story for Marvel to adapt, and would feature appearances from Black Widow, Tony Stark, Falcon and Sharon Carter. The one problem with this movie would be that it's a fairly underwhelming adventure for our new Cap, so an original story could work just as well, especially in the fallout of the Infinity War. Marvel could easily team him up with Falcon or Widow, and create an interesting dynamic based on their distrust of Bucky following their encounter in Winter Soldier.
There is also the possibility of Steve Rogers returning after a while, and a Captain America: Reborn movie would work really well. Here, we could see Bucky transition from Cap back to the Winter Soldier, only this time as a hero, carrying out missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. with his marksman skills and, of course, cybernetic arm.
The current choice: Sam Wilson
The current Captain America in the comics is Sam Wilson. Steve Rogers was drained of his supersoldier serum, and became unable to continue as Cap. He passed the mantle on to the Falcon. Retaining his wings and his faithful companion Redwing, Sam Wilson became the All-New Captain America. If the Russo brothers decide to kill Steve Rogers in Civil War, then the change would simply be Wilson taking the mantle rather than having it passed to him directly. Anthony Mackie is a brilliant actor, and his scene in Ant Man shows this. He managed to both steal the scene and make Paul Rudd's Scott Lang look like a major hero. He was authoritative, funny, a skilled fighter, and also debuted some new tech (courtesy, I'd imagine, of Tony Stark). Although he was beaten by Lang's Ant Man, Falcon still came out looking like a main-roster Avenger. His role in Civil War could define Mackie's position in the MCU, and would give him the platform to ascend to Cap.
Mackie's first solo outing could again be either a comic adaptation or an original story. Personally, I'd love to see an adaptation of the recent Inhuman Error story, a three issue tie-in of The Amazing Spider-Man, Inhuman and All New Captain America special issues, where Attilan, home of the Inhumans, is attacked over New York City. Sam Wilson teams up with Spider-Man to help the Inhumans defend their city. While the comics follow Spider-Man's point of view, the film could easily be made into a Cap-focused story, and would give Marvel another excuse to use Tom Holland in a story that is Spider-Man in a nutshell.
Having Mackie become Cap would also bring the cultural impact of a black Captain America just as the comics did last winter. I'm sure that certain individuals would be outraged that their white American hero has become a talented young black man, but that's exactly why Mackie should become Cap. At 36, Mackie can take 5+ years of Cap in his stride with room to spare.
The easy way out: Steve Rogers
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Chris Evans has done a great job as Cap on the big screen, and I doubt anyone would complain with him keeping the mantle. And even if he is killed in Civil War, he could easily be brought back with the Time gem in Infinity War (Quicksilver, anyone?) to help fight Thanos. As much as I'd love to see Sam Wilson or Bucky Barnes take over, there isn't a need to replace Steve Rogers unless Chris Evans doesn't renew his contract.