Avengers: Infinity War was had a huge couple of weeks. Marvel Studios introduced the children of Thanos, also known as the Back Order, and then debuted the first footage from the film at D23 Expo. They then followed that up by replaying the footage for a packed Hall H at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
One of the most talked about moments from the still unreleased Avengers: Infinity War convention footage was Chris Evans’ appearance as Captain America. Well, maybe not Captain America (more on that in a moment), but at least Steve Rogers.
Evans was no longer the clean-shaven baby face that he played so well in the previous Captain America and Avengers movies. Instead, Evans’ Steve Rogers is sporting a full-grown beard as he lives the life of a vigilante outlaw.
The Avengers: Infinity War footage may not have been released to the public just yet, but Marvel Studios did hand out an Avengers: Infinity War triptych poster day-by-day over the course of Comic-Con International: San Diego. The third and final part of this poster includes Steve Rogers's new look and with fans going nuts for Steve’s beard something else that may be important went relatively unnoticed.
Steve Rogers seems to have made some serious alterations to his Captain America costume. It appears to have been made darker, now fully black rather than a navy blue, but it is still clearly Captain America’s costume because the stitch-marks where the bright white star used to be can still be seen, though the star itself has apparently been removed.
Those who have noticed this change have begun referring to Steve Rogers now as Nomad, referring to an era in Steve Rogers’ Marvel Comics history where, after discovering that the president of the United States was a member of the Secret Empire, Rogers became disillusioned with his nation and left the persona of Captain America behind to become Nomad, the man without a country.
However, there may be a more apt persona from a different period in Captain America’s history that has more in common with what appears to be going on with Steve Rogers in Avengers: Infinity War and that's The Captain from the Mark Gruenwald “Cap No More” storyline from the late 1980s.
In the 1980s, Captain America kept his civilian identity as Steve Rogers a secret. The Captain's story began when the United States government discovered that secret identity and asserted that the Captain America costume and shield, as well as the very name and persona, were the property of the United States government.
The government gave Rogers a choice. He could operate as a government agent overseen by an organization called the Commission on Superhuman Activities. Otherwise, he would be forced to turn over all of the items related to Captain America and stop using the name. Rogers was unwilling to sacrifice his independence and forfeited the Captain America persona.
However, that didn't stop Steve Rogers from being a hero. It took some convincing from his allies, but Rogers made a new costume and took on a new persona as the Captain and continued fighting supervillains.
Steve Rogers' The Captain costume is strikingly similar to the one Steve Rogers is wearing in the Avengers: Infinity War footage. The most obvious similarity is the color.
Both Roger's The Captain costume and the one from Avengers: Infinity War are black (or at least the live-action suit appears black on the Comic-Con poster).
Perhaps more interesting is the star, or lack thereof. Just as the white star has been removed from the Avengers: Infinity War costume, it is also absent from The Captain's costume.
What's more, just as the star-shaped stitch-marks are still visible on the Avengers: Infinity War costume, The Captain's costume kept a star shape on its right breast, only instead of being filled with white it was left empty and filled by the black of most of the rest of the costume, appearing more as noticeable lack of star created by negative space.
The circumstances that Steve Rogers finds himself in as of Avengers: Infinity War seems remarkably similar to the circumstances that led to the creation of The Captain persona.
At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man reclaimed the Captain America shield after telling Steve Rogers that it did not belong to him. Cap left the shield behind. It was under similar circumstances, with the government claiming the rights to Captain America, that Steve Rogers abandoned that identity in the comics.
Following Captain America: Civil War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now has something resembling the Commission on Superhuman Activities, in this case, led by "Thunderbolt" Ross. And, just as was the case in the Marvel Comics story, Captain America has chosen to operate without their approval.
And just as the Steve Rogers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has the band of allies that he broke out of Ross' prison, so too did the Captain have a team of trusted allies, including the Falcon, D-Man, and Nomad (Rogers had, by that time, turned the persona over to Jack Munroe, who had formerly been the Bucky of 1950s Captain America).
The pieces are all there. It only remains to be seen if the Russo brothers choose to connect them.
The Captain saga later came to an end when the Red Skull orchestrated a fight between The Captain and John Walker, the man the Commission on Superhuman Activities had chosen to replace Rogers as Captain America. Rogers won the fight and the government granted him complete ownership of the Captain America persona. They then took over the rights to the Captain's costume and faked Walker's death so that he could become the US Agent.
Will the Steve Rogers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fight for the right to be Captain America? And will he do it in time to assemble and lead the Avengers against Thanos and the Black Order?
Fans will find when Avengers: Infinity War opens in theaters in next May.