Doesn’t gotta be Steve in the suit forever, does it?

So by now most people who care about the MCU will have seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Given that the film did come out recently, I think I’m going to go ahead and declare this piece to be a SPOILER ZONE so don’t read it unless you really feel the need. In case you didn’t gather from the article title, this going to be about what evidence I can gather, what reasoning I can muster, to support my current pet theory about the third Captain America film which should arrive sometime in 2016.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to add or disagree, please feel free to throw your thoughts into the comments. Would love to hear ’em.


Premise: Steve Rogers will die in Captain America 3 and Bucky Barnes will become Captain America.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to just spout off on this without laboriously supporting the theory! I will break down my reasoning into categories. The first of which will be:

Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans

Argument from Behind the Scenes

Marvel Rehired the Russo Brothers for Cap 3. This is a show of faith in their vision for the character and his story. They seeded their movie with loose ends like Crossbones and Sharon Carter and have made cryptic hints to how this stuff will come back in Cap 3. Particularly Crossbones (Brock Brumlow as played by Frank Grillo), who they’ve said got a bit of an “origin story” in The Winter Soldier and is heavily rumored for a planned appearance on Marvel: Agents of Shield. It makes sense that whatever they’re going to do in the third movie is not only going to pay off these things, but will also bring back Bucky now that he’s got some measure of control over his life and the Cap + Falcon dreamteam is closing out the movie by going looking for him. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron can easily interrupt that search.

The major thing here, though, is that Chris Evans wants out. He’s always been a bit uneasy with his huge contract to Marvel and is one of the few members of their stable who only has a 6-movie deal. He’s only got 2 left after Avengers 2 and one of those two will definitely be Captain America 3. He also has openly discussed his intention to semi-retire from acting and go into directing.

Contrast this with Sebastian Stan who has seven movies left in his contract. It seems likely that Marvel will want to keep the character and avoid recasting while still staying within reaching distance of comics precedent. That is sort of a nutshell of the basis for this argument, but more detail to follow!


It’s possible that if Evans and therefore Steve Rogers are slated to be in Avengers 3 (as the final film in Evans’ contract), it will mean he isn’t dead. More likely, it’ll be a flashback or some other small role. A little less likely is that his 6th appearance is in an entirely different movie but the smart money is on Avengers 3.

It’s also possible that Marvel is willing to recast Evans as they have recast actors before (Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle, Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo) and Kevin Fiege, at least, has toyed with the topic in interviews. As has Robert Downey Jr. who has been notoriously outspoken about the tension between self-interest and loyalty to Marvel’s cinematic magnum opus.


Argument from the Comics and The Winter Soldier

In the comics, Crossbones assassinates Steve Rogers (but Sharon Carter is initially blamed) and Bucky Barnes takes up the identity and the famous shield to replace him. All three of these characters originate in The Winter Soldier for the MCU and none of them are “completed”. They are all “middle movie” figures who will have to factor in later or they’re just Easter eggs.

In the movie The Winter Soldier we see that Crossbones survives the destruction of the Triskellion and we are halfway introduced to Sharon Carter (first name only). Why else but to seed the presence of these characters in the next film? More circumstantial is the way Brock Brumlow/Crossbones is handled in the movie. He at first appears to be a loyal ally of Captain America’s, but eventually seems more hostile even before Hydra reveals itself. When he tells Cap it’s “not personal” before trying to take him down, Cap retorts “it feels personal” which sets up the animosity between them. Add Crossbones potentially blaming Steve Rogers for his disfigurement and you have grounds for the guy to become a fairly active villain.

He is also within the militaristic theme that the Russos have nailed down for their contribution to the character. It follows that the Captain America films will stay with a general theme of war and soldiers just as all of Iron Man’s nemeses are dark reflections of Tony Stark, or that Thor always comes back to the relationships between Thor and his family members. Marvel is building consistently upon the character-rooted storytelling in these films.


The presence of these characters and the way they are set up can literally be paid off any way the Russos and Marvel choose. This may seem like the obvious and natural way to do it (and the internet has been talking about it plenty, I’m not the first person to propose this I imagine), but it may not be what they do.


Concluding Remarks

I don’t usually write articles like this, but it’s kind of fun to speculate and put forth a case for where I think they are taking this character. I love the Marvel movies. I love Captain America and I hope Marvel has the guts to follow through on everything they’ve done to differentiate the way these stories are told from their comics counterparts, where the stakes and consequences are always transient. If they get cheap in these movies, they’ll lose people. They don’t need to kill Steve Rogers to prove that they’re willing to keep the MCU a consistent, momentum-having space for versions of these stories and characters, but to me it would be a good feather to pin in their cap.

Here’s my argument, once again, in a nutshell.

P1: Steve Rogers will die.

P2: Crossbones will kill him.

P3: Bucky Barnes will become Captain America.

A1: Chris Evans has 3 movies in his contract (Age of Ultron, Captain America 2 and probably Avengers 3), Sebastian Stan has 7.

A2: The Russos are building a two-part story out of Cap 2 and Cap 3 which will include characters they introduced or seeded in Cap 2 (Brock Brumlow/Crossbones, Sharon Carter, and The Winter Soldier).

A3: This is all consistent with events in the comics.

So anyway, yeah. This was fun!