Following the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, viewers might be wondering what is next for the star spangled man with the plan, otherwise known as Captain America or Steve Rogers. The potential answers for Captain America’s future possibly lay in the past of Marvel Comics. The character was first created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, so there are decades worth of history and stories to draw from, for the future cinematic adventures of the Sentinel of Liberty.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier definitely set Cap on a bold new path, along with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a whole. Captain America uncovered a deep infection within S.H.I.E.L.D., the covert spy organization. The entire organization had been infiltrated, up to its highest levels, by the terrorist organization known as HYDRA. HYDRA attempted to launch three helicarriers to eliminate all their potential threats and effectively take over the world. Cap was able to put a stop to the plan with the help of his new ally Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, and Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. However, S.H.I.E.L.D. is all but gone, with Agent Phil Coulson and his splintered team left to pick up the pieces in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Previously, S.H.I.E.L.D. had a prominent role in multiple MCU films. S.H.I.E.L.D. was more or less in the background and keeping watch to all the major events and facilitating events when need be. The organization started the Avengers Initiative that brought the team of superheroes known as The Avengers together. The Avengers and Captain America will now be operating without S.H.I.E.L.D.’s guidance or oversight, at least for now. Captain America will lead the Avengers into battle with new perspective. But for Captain America, here is what might be next for the star spangled man:
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Captain America’s next confirmed appearance will be in Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015. Captain America will be participating in The Avengers’ battle against a malevolent sentient cyborg known as Ultron. Also lying somewhere behind all of this is HYDRA agent Baron Strucker, who was first introduced during the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Strucker now has Loki’s sceptor in his possession. Even more curious, he appears to be holding a pair “twins” prisoner. The “twins” are Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, respectively known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. In the comics, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were members of the mutant race and originated as members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants because they were Magneto’s progeny. Of course the MCU as it currently stands does not own the rights to mutants or Magneto, so that aspect of the history of Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch will be excised. Captain America will easily have his hands full dealing with an evil cyborg that wants to destroy humanity, the ever present threat of HYDRA, and dealing with a volatile team, plus the added threat of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The good news for Cap is that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are destined to switch sides and fight on the side of good as Avengers. In fact, it was Captain America that led the Avengers team lineup that consisted of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Cap’s personality could very well be the thing that inspires Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to fight for the side of good.
- Captain America 3 – Captain America is guaranteed to return for a third solo-film in May 2016. The situation is delicate, though, because Marvel Studios announced the release date for the next Cap sequel opposite the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film from Warner Bros. Regardless, a third solo-film for Captain America is inevitable. This will likely be the best opportunity to spotlight Captain America’s quest and his search for James “Buchanan” Barnes, aka the aforementioned Winter Soldier. Despite years of mental torture and brainwashing by HYDRA, Bucky still could not forget his bond and friendship with Steve Rogers. Bucky opted to save Captain America from a watery grave. Had you stayed until the very end of the credits for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you would’ve gotten a hint of what is to come next for Bucky. In addition, Captain America 3 could finally be the opportunity for Steve Rogers to get a little romance in his life, perhaps with Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter from (Emily VanCamp) Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- The Death of Captain America – One of the more famous modern stories for Captain America could be addressed as a potential option or future direction for the character onscreen. Following Marvel’s Civil War storyline, Captain America was taken into custody, shot, and believed dead for quite a while. It was in this time that Bucky, seeing the need for someone to carry the mantle of Captain America, took up the stars, stripes, and shield to fight on as the new Captain America. Actor Chris Evans signed up to play Captain America for six movies. Captain America 3 will be his fifth outing as the character (not counting an amusing cameo and trick by Loki in Thor: The Dark World). Actor Sebastian Stan is also signed for a multi-picture deal to play Bucky. This could possibly mean at some point, Marvel will transition Chris Evans out of the role after his contract expires by using Bucky as the next Captain America in the MCU. In the comics, Steve Rogers was not actually dead, and he was eventually found. After doing some soul searching, he did later return to the role of Captain America.
- The Infinity Gauntlet – Ultimately, all things lead back to Thanos, the alien conqueror briefly glimpsed by the audience at the end of The Avengers. It was Thanos who granted Loki his powerful sceptor, and it was Thanos who coveted the Tesseract (known to Marvel faithful as the Cosmic Cube). Thor: The Dark World established that there are multiple “Infinity Stones,” of which the Tesseract was one and the Aether was another. There are six of these gems total. The user who wields all these gems, encased on the Infinity Gauntlet, will have infinite powers to basically bend the entire universe to its will. This is not something Captain America would want anyone, especially Thanos, to have. However, seeing as to how Thanos will likely clash with the Avengers in The Avengers 3, perhaps this could be where Captain America meets his cinematic end? It was The Infinity Gauntlet story where Captain America had one of his most classic confrontations in history with Thanos, which would make for an iconic cinematic moment as well.
- The Return of the Red Skull – Red Skull’s disappearance in Captain America: The First Avenger was hardly final. Even death could not stop him in the pages of the Captain America comics. The Red Skull has constantly returned to menace Captain America and his life throughout the years, and in the movies, it should be no different. Ultimately, it would be spectacular to see the Red Skull make a return, perhaps in Captain America 3 or even The Avengers 3 to show what happens to a man that was pulled through a wormhole by the Cosmic Cube.
More than anything, besides presenting an incredible comic book superhero cinematic spectacle, Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks to be a catalyst for a bold new direction for the future of Captain America and the MCU as a whole. Marvel is, of course, not beholden to any of the aforementioned ideas and stories. Any ideas from the past of Captain America could very easily be tweaked and adjusted for the goals of the new movies as well. But, Captain America: The Winter Soldier does incite the reactions of pondering what is next for the star spangled man.
Opinion by Jeffrey Harris