Chris Evans - the incredibly hench Hollywood actor, not the radio presenter - has bid farewell to the role of Captain America, a part he inhabited magnificently for the best part of a decade, and suggested that the person who next takes it up could be quite different. He’s fairly insistent that Avengers 4 will be his final appearance as the character, making it the end of an era.
Who could replace him though? It could be someone quite different, which could breathe some real fresh air into the Avengers.
Frank Grillo, who played Crossbones in the second and third Captain America films (and is generally amazing, appearing in a lot of punching-people-in-the-face films) told Larry King in an interview, when asked who was in line for the part: “I don’t know, but there’ve been rumors that [the next] Captain America could be African American. It could be a woman. You know? So they’re looking.”
Can there still be a Captain America post-Evans, though? Yes, obviously - the MCU has recast roles before (Terence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle as Rhodes, for instance). Maybe not on the scale of Chris Evans, but it would be doable.
However, more plausibly, there can be a Captain America post-Steve Rogers. Just like with most comic-book superheroes, the mantle of Captain America has been held by more than just one person.
Even by the standards of comic book superheroes, the character has a complicated history. Decades of stories were retconned into being about different characters - in the 1970s, the comics basically said that the real Captain America had been frozen since the 1940s, and everything he did in the 50s and 60s was actually various other people. And then there have been a few temporary deaths, betrayals, brainwashings and quittings, all of which have led to other people putting on the ol’ helmet.
Other people to have used the name include:
- William Naslund, later known as the Spirit Of ‘76, who briefly replaced Rogers while he was frozen after World War Two
- Jeffrey Mace, aka Patriot, who replaced Naslund after his death. Mace has been portrayed in the TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- William Burnside, later known both as Captain America Of The 1950s and The Grand Director, held the title through the ‘50s and later became a crazed white supremacist
- John Walker, later known as both U.S. Agent and Super-Patriot, briefly replaced a disillusioned Rogers in the 1990s
- Bucky Barnes, as portrayed in the MCU by Sebastian Stan, currently using the name White Wolf in the films, replaced Rogers after he was temporarily killed in the 2000s
- Sam Rogers, aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie in the MCU), replaced Rogers after his super-serum was neutralised and his body aged to 90 years old
- Isaiah Bradley was the result of the government trying to recreate the experiment that led to Rogers gaining his strength. In a parallel to the real-life Tuskegee experiments, Bradley and hundreds of other African-American soldiers were involved in the experiment against their will, with all but five dying (and their families being told they died in combat). Bradley lived as “the Black Captain America” before degenerative effects of the experiments regressed him to a childlike state
- Peggy Carter (as played by Hayley Atwell in the MCU) has taken on the role in the (quite strange) Exiles imprint
If we were putting money on anything, we’d say the most likely scenario is probably that Captain America dies in Avengers 4, and passes the mantle on to Falcon. It makes sense given their relationship, and it would be great to have an African-American Captain America on screen.
Obviously something way more leftfield could easily take place, but it feels unlikely that they’d create a brand new character to take the role on, given the 70-odd years of history behind it. A lot of the weird mid-century stuff is best left behind, so realistically it’s going to be Bucky or Falcon, and our money would be on Falcon. Bucky’s got enough names, as much as anything else - Bucky itself is a nickname, and he also goes by Winter Soldier and White Wolf - there’s not room for any more nicknames on that idiot.
Of course, both Bucky and Falcon disintegrated at the end of Infinity War, so who knows…? Avengers 4 is out on May 3rd next year and may well provide some answers. Until then, let’s just frantically speculate!
(Pics: Marvel Studios)