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A discussion of the end of Captain America: Civil War follows.
All the members of the Avengers go through significant changes over the course of Captain America: Civil War. By the end of the film, nobody is in the same place, physically or emotionally, as they were at the beginning. However, things may be the most different for the title character himself. Steve Rogers begins the movie as Captain America, but at the end of the movie, he leaves behind his shield. When he made that decision, it likely meant leaving much more behind him as well.
The final battle of Captain America: Civil War pits Captain America and The Winter Soldier against Iron Man. Tony Stark is now aware that a brainwashed Bucky is responsible for the death of Stark’s parents. Once Iron Man is defeated, Tony reminds Cap that his father was responsible for creating the vibranium shield that Captain America carries. Steve Rogers decides that Tony has a point, and drops the shield as he and Bucky walk away. Now, Anthony Russo tells Empire that, in making that decision, Steve Rogers chose to leave more behind than the shield.
Dropping the shield is a rejection of the Captain America identity and a choice to embrace the Steve Rogers identity.
It’s one of the questions that we had, after watching Captain America: Civil War the first time. The next time we see Steve Rogers, will we even be looking at Captain America? Apparently not. There have been times in the comics when Steve Rogers has decided to stop being Captain America for one reason or another. Leaving the shield behind is a fairly telling statement, but with the Russos now coming out and saying it, it’s clear. Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America. So what happens next?
In those moments in Marvel comics when Steve Rogers has done this, he has never stopped playing the hero, he’s simply done so under a different guise. Could we see Steve Rogers again as Nomad, or The Captain? It’s certainly a possibility, at this point, it even sounds likely. Of course, there’s also the other side of the coin. Now that the governments of the world have some degree of control over heroes, and they have the shield, will they bestow the title of Captain America upon somebody new? If the identity no longer belongs to Steve Rogers, then who does it belong to? Will we see one of the replacement Captain Americas, like John Walker in a future film?
We all certainly have an expectation that when the MCU hits the end of Phase Three there will be some degree of reconciliation among the Avengers, however, the real question is how will they get there from where they are now? Steve Rogers looks to have quite a long way to go before we see him in the red, white, and blue again. If we ever do.