'Captain America: Civil War' Ending: What's Next for Steve Rogers?

The events of the latest Marvel movie hint at big things in the character's future — things that comic books have already explored.
Daniel Acuna/Marvel Entertainment

The climax of Captain America: Civil War hints at a dramatic change in store for Steve Rogers. What guidance can be found in the character's 75-year comic book history for what lies ahead? Spoilers ahead for Captain America: Civil War.

Apparently, it's not enough for Cap to oppose the U.S. government — as well as other international authorities — on the issue of superhuman oversight; by the end of the movie, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has escaped to Wakanda, leaving his shield behind in the U.S. Does this mean that he's quit being Captain America … ? The end of the movie leaves that question unanswered, but as many comic fans know, it wouldn't be the first time he's been forced to find an alternative occupation.

In comic book mythology, Rogers has stopped being Captain America on a number of occasions, both by choice and unwillingly. What does a man do when he can't be the embodiment of a nation's aspirational superheroics? Here are the choices the comic book Steve Rogers has made to date. Cinematic Steve, perhaps you should take some notes.

Nomad

Following Richard Nixon's failed attempt to take over the United States of America as the head of the criminal organization known as the Secret Empire (and his subsequent suicide; not that he was ever explicitly identified as Nixon, merely the President of the United States, who had previously been shown as Nixon in other Marvel comics of the time), Steve Rogers was so disillusioned with the United States that he quit being Captain America, but couldn't quit doing good — which led to the creation of an all-new costumed identity: "Nomad, the Man Without A Country." He didn't last long in the role, however; following the murder of his replacement, he reclaimed the Captain America identity for a showdown with the Red Skull. Years later, another character called Jack Monroe would take up the Nomad identity for himself.

First Appearance: Captain America No. 180 (1974)

Final Appearance (as Steve Rogers): Captain America No. 183 (1975)

The Captain

Fired from being Captain America as a result of his refusing to bow to political influence, Steve Rogers tried to give up the costumed hero game altogether. It didn't stick, of course, especially when he discovered that not only was the organization that released him corrupt, but there was a conspiracy under way to turn America into snake people thanks to contaminated drinking water. (Those who'd longed to see Steve Rogers wrestle with a Ronald Reagan who was part snake, this storyline was your chance; check out "Don't Tread On Me," in Captain America No. 344.) After a year — and a showdown with both his replacement as Captain America and the Red Skull, he returned to the role of Cap. Although "the Captain" would never return, his costume would later be adopted by the U.S.Agent … who just happened to be the former replacement Cap defeated by the returning Steve Rogers.

First Appearance: Captain America No. 337 (1988)

Final Appearance: Captain America No. 350 (1989)

Super-Soldier

Upon returning from seeming death — really just an enforced trip through his own timeline thanks to comic book science — Steve Rogers encountered a world where Bucky Barnes had taken his place as Captain America … and he was surprisingly OK with it. So OK, in fact, that he didn't try to reclaim the identity, instead settling into life as the Head of Security for the United States, as appointed by the President of the United States himself. Things changed, sadly, when Bucky was himself apparently killed (Don't worry, he wasn't; comic book logic and spy logic was involved in the ruse), with Steve once again returning to his familiar costume and title in time for a showdown with not the Red Skull, for once, but the Red Skull's daughter. The Super Soldier title — never an official identifier, merely the name of Steve's solo comic during this period — was not claimed by anyone else, but his costume was adopted by Nick Fury after the fact.

First Appearance: Steve Rogers: Super Soldier No. 1 (2010)

Final Appearance: Fear Itself No. 3 (2011)

Old Man Rogers

As the result of a plan by a villainous former SHIELD agent called the Iron Nail, Steve Rogers was drained of the Super Soldier formula that has transformed him into Captain America in the first place back in World War II, which had the effect of not only de-powering the hero, but restoring him to his natural age … which was somewhere in his late 80s. Refusing to take this as a sign to retire, Rogers went on to become the Chief of Civilian Oversight for SHIELD, while also acting as a mentor for his replacement as Captain America, Sam Wilson. After being beaten by the supervillain Crossbones, Rogers was near death before his health — and also his age and super-powers — were restored to him by a cosmic entity known as Kobik. At the prompting of Wilson, he agreed to return as Captain America, with the two heroes currently sharing the title.

First Appearance: Captain America Vol. 7 No. 22 (2014)

Final Appearance: Captain America: Sam Wilson No. 7 (2016)

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