This whole article is pure speculation. I have no insider knowledge about what the gang at Marvel are planning to do in the future with Captain America, I only know how this kind of stuff goes down in the comics. Also – if you haven’t seen CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, there will be spoilers ahead. As in, the next paragraph talks about the end of the movie. Be warned now.
At the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, something huge happens – Captain America leaves his shield behind. A defeated Tony Stark, seemingly trapped in his destroyed Iron Man armor, screams at Steve to drop the shield. “That isn’t yours. My dad made that!” Without looking back, Rogers lets the shield loose. It drops with a cold, hard clang. This is a message – Steve Rogers is done being Captain America. At least, I think he is. More to it, I think I know where things are headed for Steve Rogers.
In the comics, Steve has quit being Cap a few times. Usually, he quits when the US government tries to make him do something he feels is wrong. When he’s quit in the past, Steve has taken on different personas, including The Captain and Nomad. In a similar, yet very different, storyline from the 80s, when Rogers was ordered by the president to start taking orders directly from the Commission on Superhuman Activities, a government agency that kept tabs on superpowered beings, Rogers refused. He dropped the shield and walked away.
Not wanting to just let Captain America cease to exist, the Commission on Superhuman Activities turns to a man named John Walker, but better known to the world as Super-Patriot, to become the new Captain America.
Walker grew up idolizing his brother, who died in Vietnam. Walker wanted to fight in ‘Nam himself, but the war ended before he was old enough to enlist. Still, Walker joined the military, but found that it just wasn’t violent enough for him. When he learned about a weirdo called Power Broker, who could give people superpowers, Walker tracked the guy down and set himself up with some super strength and enhanced agility. Indebted to Power Broker, Walker looked to enter the superhuman wrestling organization Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation but instead became a corporate sponsored superhero.
Walker reluctantly took on the Captain America persona; as Super-Patriot, Walker had made a name for himself by publicly calling out Steve Rogers as a left wing softy and wasn’t sure that the image of Captain America should continue. Still, Walker considered himself a good American and, to quote him, “…if Uncle Sam wanted me to be Mickey Mouse, I’d do it.”
As the new Captain America, Walker is far more brutal than Steve Rogers ever was, going so far as to beat multiple people to death. Emotionally unstable and unable to fully control his own strength, Walker becomes more and more of a liability. Facing a serious publicity problem, the US government decides that Walker needs to go.
First thing they do is convince Rogers to come back and be Captain America again, with the consent of Walker, who realizes that he is slowly going mad. The next move, and this is why I love comics, is for everyone to fake Walker’s assassination, which they do by having him be shot on live TV. Walker is then set up with a new identity and hypnotized to forget everything that happened to him.
Sure enough, the hypnotizing wear off, and Walker takes on the identity of U.S. Agent. His mental issues are, for the most part, in check, and the government sees a chance to have a spare Captain America in their pocket in case Rogers ever quits again.
Again, I have no knowledge of what Marvel is planning with the movies, but if they aren’t at least thinking of using U.S. Agent for the next Captain America movie, I would be shocked. All the pieces are there for John Walker to show up – Cap has seemingly quit being Cap, and with more and more superhuman insanity going on, surely the US government would want a hero they can control outside of the Sokovia Accords. With the location of the Winter Soldier program being found by everyone, there is every reason to believe that the super soldier formula used to create the Winter Soldiers is there as well.
The concept of U.S. Agent works well for the movies as well – the idea of showing audiences why Steve Rogers needs to be Captain America – it connects back to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER when Erskine gives his theory as to why Red Skull ended up all wacky, and why that won’t happen to Steve – that what makes a man great comes from inside. Steve Rogers, ever hopeful, ever honest, became more so. John Walker is filled with anger, and so he becomes angrier. The chance for a Captain America movie that gets to comment on both these sides of humanity, the hopeful and the angry, both in story and in action, could make for a strong movie.
Reading the comics that lead up to the creation of U.S. Agent, I loved the whole story. Captain America works best when he is forced to stand up for what he believes, which is why CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR works so well, and while I’m sure he and his crew will end up helping Tony and his team for the next two AVENGERS movies, I hope Marvel doesn’t waste this opportunity to really dig into some of the older Cap stories.
*All Images: Marvel Comics