WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Although many fans suspected Steve Rogers might die in Civil War's "controversial ending," good old Cap made it out of the film alive, though he might not stay that way for long. There's no official news (naturally), but rumors are flying that Infinity War – Part 1 could be Steve's last outing, as the first Avenger might die in the epic battle against Thanos.
Again, this is just speculation, but it does follow the comic canon wherein Steve died as a consequence of the events of Civil War (but not until after that arc concluded). In true comic book tradition, his former sidekicks/fellow Avengers took up his mantle after him. And the best known of those are, of course, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes.
Both of these characters are prime candidates for the next Cap in the MCU, as they've both featured in multiple Marvel films and have a strong relationship with Steve himself. There have been plenty of hints already about this, but which character is more likely to carry the shield?
Sam Wilson: All-New Cap
The current Captain America in the Marvel Comics is actually Sam Wilson, after Steve lost his powers in Captain America Volume 7. Sam is by no means the first, second, or even third person to take up this identity, as the title of Captain America has been held by 13 different characters in Marvel's history (not counting alternate universe versions).
So what about Sam in the MCU? There were plenty of homages to Falcon-Cap in Civil War, as Sam repeatedly used his wings as a shield and emulated Steve's fighting style.
His banter with one Bucky Barnes certainly set them up as an amazing dynamic duo, hinting at another partnership in the future. But who will be Cap and who will be the sidekick?
Of all the characters, Sam is the one to fulfill the same role as Steve in the Avengers, which was most evident in Civil War when the team discusses the Sokovia Accords. Before Steve says his piece, Sam is the one to argue vehemently against the new restrictions, proving that he and Steve are very like-minded people.
But aside from the visual parallels and similar characterization, Sam Wilson is definitely his own hero. He's just come into his own as Falcon, really, so it might feel a little jarring for him to take up another hero's persona so soon. Of the two, Bucky seems to be in a better position to become the new Cap.
- Why Is Captain America So Important To The Marvel Cinematic Universe?
- Patriotism Wears A Spangly Outfit: The Importance Of Captain America In A Trying Era
- Yes, Even Captain America Has 5 WTF Moments From His Comics!
Bucky Barnes: Rogue Cap
Bucky was the first to take up Steve's mantle when he died, thanks to Civil War's aftermath in The Death of Captain America. Steve's dying wish was for his torch to be passed, so Tony suggested to Bucky that he take up the cover of Captain America.
Bucky's time as Cap was fraught with conflict (specifically the "Secret Invasion"), and when he was put on trial for his crimes as the Winter Soldier, he stepped down from his role as Captain America.
In the MCU, Bucky seems to be the perfect candidate to take up Steve's role. Unlike Sam, Bucky hasn't really had a chance to become a hero (since his Howling Commandos days, at least). The world still sees him as a dangerous assassin, though we're hoping that a heroic role in Black Panther might change that. There's also the fact that the title of the Winter Soldier is one that Bucky wants to distance himself from, at least in Civil War.
Of course, Bucky ticks off plenty of boxes for visual hints and parallels between him and Captain America. But even beyond that, thematically there's a lovely mirroring going on between Bucky and Steve's stories. It really is a matter of "there but for the grace of God" — Bucky could easily have been chosen for the Super Soldier program if he hadn't been drafted before Steve managed to enlist.
After that, the parallels between Steve and Bucky really begin to stack up. They've essentially walked on different sides of the same path, struggling to step out of each other's shadows. In many ways they're two sides of the same coin, which would make it very narratively satisfying for Bucky to continue his best friend's legacy.
Plus there's the fact that the Marvel bosses keep hinting that Sebastian Stan's role in the MCU will become more important after Civil War.
Out of the two of them, Bucky definitely seems more likely to become the next Captain America, but either way we're hoping to see much more from both Bucky and Falcon. After all, if their scenes together in Civil War proved nothing else, it's that Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie deserve their own buddy cop movie, like, yesterday. Role on, Infinity War!
Who do you think should be the next Captain America?