Steve Rogers finally got some of that “life” Tony Stark told him to get. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, things change significantly for one of the original heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we also know the Captain America mantel will live on in one way or another. It’s a huge change for the MCU, and one we have some serious questions about. Luckily, the comic books have (most) of the answers.
After traveling back in time to restore the Infinity Stones to their proper times, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) went back to post-war 1940s America to reunite with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). After 70 years, they finally had their dance.
But because the Marvel Universe can’t be left without a Captain America, an elderly Steve Rogers (appearing just moments after his final trip back in time in Avengers: Endgame) gives his friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) the mantle and title of Captain America. Bucky Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) — another character fans bet could take over from Steve — also gave his blessings for Sam to take up the shield.
Whether or not there’s a new Captain America film trilogy on the way (and what to make of the Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?) we now know that the MCU still has an active “Captain America.” But what will that actually look like in future movies and TV shows?
Here’s what Marvel’s comic books reveal about Sam Wilson’s future as the new Captain America.
How Sam Wilson Became Captain America
In 2014, in Rick Remender’s run on Captain America, Steve Rogers was neutralized of the Super Soldier serum, which aged Steve’s body significantly. (Sound familiar?) After dealing with supervillains Arnim Zola and his daughter Jet, Steve Rogers retires from being Captain America and passes it on to Sam Wilson, who adds his own spin to the Captain America arsenal.
Some ups included Sam leading his own iteration of the Avengers, in Mark Waid’s All-New, All-Different Avengers with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Iron Man, Nova, and Thor (Jane Foster). In fact, Sam and Jane became a romantic pair, albeit extremely briefly.
Sam’s time as Captain America also introduced Joaquin Torres, a teenager bit by Falcon’s pet vampire bird Redwing (long story) who took over Sam’s vacant identity as Falcon.
But some downs saw Sam at the center of several recent Marvel crossovers. In 2016, Sam was Captain America during the events of Civil War II, where Iron Man and Captain Marvel butted heads over an Inhuman who could see the future. Later, Sam helps a lower-tier superhero named Rage, who is arrested when the police believe he was robbing a pawn shop (he was actually stopping two other villains who escaped before the police arrived).
While Sam presents evidence on Rage’s behalf, the judge deems them inadmissible, and Rage falls victim to a near-fatal beating by super villains in prison. That’s when Sam temporarily gives up the shield of Captain America back to Steve Rogers, although unbeknownst to him, Steve had manipulated all of these events as part of his operation as a double-agent for Hydra.
When a biologically re-enhanced Steve Rogers emerges as the new face of Hydra in 2017’s Secret Empire, Sam resumes his identity of Captain America to fight “Hydra Cap,” until the real Captain America returned in the final fight. After Secret Empire, Sam officially gave the real Steve Rogers back the name and identity of Captain America.
Will This Happen in the MCU?
Like all movies in the MCU, you can expect to see heavy riffs on major events but not strict adaptations. Captain America: Civil War was not a one-to-one retelling of Mark Millar’s 2006 crossover Civil War. So even if a Marvel movie borrows titles Standoff! or Secret Empire (please god no), you should still expect a wildly different story in the movie.
It’s even unknown right now if Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson will, in fact, lead a new team of Avengers in the films, as there isn’t a clear picture what “Phase 4” will look like. Outside of Disney’s offices in Burbank, no one is sure if there will be another Avengers movie any time soon.
Meanwhile, the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also poses a lot of questions; will the series have Sam feature the Falcon or as Captain America? Will it take place before or after Avengers: Endgame? And does the existence of the TV show mean we won’t see Sam and Bucky on the big screen again?
There are lots of questions and hardly any sign we’ll get answers soon. For now, all we know is that no matter what, there’s still a Captain America.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.