2016 marked the release of the third film in the Captain America franchise, Captain America: Civil War. The movie’s narrative depicted an Avengers team divided along ideological lines, and ended with them still split. Comments made following the film’s release, and leading into the building hype surrounding Avengers: Infinity War, have suggested that Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers will not technically be the Star Spangled Avenger when the next Avengers sequel begins. Naturally, this has led to some questions as to the possibility of Marvel making a Cap film without Steve Rogers in the role as Captain America.
Such a plan might not only make sense from a narrative perspective. While Evans is one of the biggest stars the MCU currently has, as he gets older and his contract continues to get shorter, speculation has continued to grow as to whether or not the franchise will continue without him as Rogers, or without Rogers at all. As it turns out, the latter direction is something Marvel might consider.
Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, recently spoke to Collider about the Captain America franchise. While he is not yet ready to think about a time when Evans will not be around, he believes that the franchise could continue without Rogers.
“It’s a good question and if we look back at the comic books as our inspiration and as the well from which this all springs, then the answer is “no.” I’m not saying we’ll do it in the movie but I’ve read Captain America comics that don’t have Steve Rogers in them.”
At this point, the Marvel Studios brand has arguably grown larger than the characters themselves, which gives them the option to roll out new properties and leads without having to worry about it being a financial disaster. Based on Evans’ comments over the past year, he wants to continue playing the character for the foreseeable future. That certainly seems to gel with what Feige has planned, but should things take an unexpected turn, Marvel might not be in as serious a predicament as one would think.
As of right now, the MCU has two prime candidates to carry on the Captain America mantle. Sebastian Stan signed a nine-picture deal when he first agreed to play James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, which has so far garnered three appearances by him. On the other hand, Marvel Studios could also let Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, take up the shield in the films, just as he has in the comics right now.
Either character or actor could hold his own as Captain America. With Thanos on the horizon, no one is safe, including Rogers. Fans may need to start preparing themselves for the possibility of either Bucky or Falcon leading the Captain America franchise as we move into Phase 4 of the MCU and beyond.