Passing the Mantle to a New Captain America
Rejoice, nerds! Avengers: Infinity War is finally upon us! Unfortunately, Steve Rogers won’t be with us much longer. If you’ve been on the Internet at all recently, you know that next year’s Avengers movie will be Chris Evans’s last time portraying Captain America.
It’s been a fun ride with some fantastic movies. But instead of longing for the past, let’s get excited about the future. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been preparing for this inevitability. The proof is in the characters. Both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are in good spots to take over the mantle when the time comes. Both characters have served as Captain America in the comics at some point. Comic fans will undoubtedly have their favorite non-Rogers Captain America. But who should get the glory on the big screen? Word of the Nerd is here to speculate and editorialize.
Note: The author wrote this article before seeing Avengers: Infinity War. His views may be affected after seeing it.
Not My Captain America
I’ll be honest with you. It feels like the MCU is really pushing Bucky, and I don’t particularly care for it. The Winter Soldier is easily one of the best movies in the MCU, if not the best. But that was the highlight of storytelling around Bucky. By comparison, Civil War (while an enjoyable and good movie) is a little messy and feels dragged down by Bucky’s character and relationship with Steve. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still great storytelling potential with these two. But a huge crossover movie isn’t the place to do it. A smaller scale solo Cap film is the place to get us to care about Bucky beyond amusing memes.
To put it another way, I think the people behind the MCU want to get Bucky into a position to take over the mantle of Captain America. However, they simply haven’t gotten the character there yet. That could easily change in the time before Chris Evans leaves, and it could make for an outstanding redemption arc. Unfortunately, as it stands I’m not too excited about the prospect of Captain Bucky.
Fly, Falcon, Fly
That leaves us with dear old Sam. He’s had less development than Bucky overall, but that should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem. There’s a lot of potential to build on this character and create something interesting that will engage audiences. Moreover, he’s infinitely more likable than Bucky, which is important for your standard MCU protagonist.
Picking Sam would also give us a chance to see something a little bit different. His fighting style differs from Steve and Bucky, as he utilizes his wings and drone. His experience as a modern American is also unique from his counterparts. The MCU could leverage this to keep Captain America fresh and relevant to modern moviegoers. I think we’ve had our share of WWII patriotism and Cold War anxieties. Sam could be the perfect access point to modern patriotism in all of its complexities.
Whichever way Marvel Studios goes, there’s a lot to be gained or lost from this decision. Hopefully, they’ll make the right call for the future of the franchise. Who do you want to see take over the mantle? Do you even want the mantle to be passed on? Let us know in the comments below!