Although Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008's Iron Man, Chris Evans has arguably become the heart and soul of the entire franchise. He has genuinely grown into the role of Steve Rogers over the course of the last six years, and the Captain America movies have become some of the most consistently entertaining entries in the entire MCU. That said, all good things must eventually come to an end, and recent rumors have suggested the fact that Chris Evans may want to hang up his vibranium shield after next year's The Avengers: Infinity War debuts.
If Chris Evans genuinely intends to step down from his role as Captain America after Infinity War, then this leads us to believe that Marvel may have him die at the hands of Josh Brolin's Thanos -- thus mirroring a famous moment from the comics. It's a significant move for Marvel to make, but it seems like they've already hinted at it before. On that note, we've gone through the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and picked out eight times that this long-running film franchise has hinted at Cap making the ultimate sacrifice. There are plenty of heroic moments for us to discuss, but let's kick this list off with an incident from his pre-super soldier days.
Jumping On The Grenade
It's no secret that Steve Rogers was a heroic son of a bitch even before his selection for Project Rebirth, and scrawny Steve proved that he was entirely willing to sacrifice himself during the first act of The First Avenger. As you'll recall, Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) tossed a dud grenade into a group of soldiers, and Steve selflessly jumped on it to protect everyone. Right then and there, the Marvel Cinematic Universe set up the fact that he's willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of those around him.
Crashing Red Skull's Plane
Although the dud grenade served as a bit of a dry run in terms of self-sacrifice, the climax of The First Avenger allowed Steve to properly give himself up in the name of a higher cause by crashing Red Skull's (Hugo Weaving) war plane into the North Atlantic. Cap obviously lived to fight another day in the 21st century alongside Earth's mightiest heroes, but he never expected to survive this crash when he said his goodbyes to Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and downed the plane before it could reach New York.
Lecturing Tony About Sacrifice
The ideological conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers during the first Avengers movie revolves around the dichotomy between selfishness and self-sacrifice. Tony believes that there's always a way out, while Steve believes that winning sometimes requires a "sacrifice play." Joss Whedon wisely used this conflict to give Tony a big moment at the end of the film, but Cap's entire thesis in this argument sets up the fact that he's ready to be the member of The Avengers to lay down on the wire and let the others crawl over him.
His 'Price Of Freedom' Speech To S.H.I.E.L.D.
Although Tony Stark is certainly the smoothest talker on The Avengers' roster, Cap stepped up to the plate in The Winter Soldier to deliver a rousing speech to the folks at S.H.I.E.L.D. about "the price of freedom." During this speech, he makes it abundantly clear that he's willing to let himself be killed if it means giving himself up so other people can be free. Considering how the rest of The Winter Soldier plays out, he unquestionably tries his best to live up to this promise.
Ordering Maria Hill To Fire On His Helicarrier
Following his rousing speech to the agents of SH.I.E.L.D., Steve gets to put his money where his mouth is by ordering Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to fire on a Hydra helicarrier -- with him still inside. Although we now know that Steve survives the incident, the moment is played for maximum drama as Hill hesitates before finally accepting Steve's command and shooting down the behemoth ship. That's two Captain America movies in a row that end with Steve going down with an aircraft for the good of others.
Letting The Winter Solder Beat Him In The Helicarrier
Although The Winter Soldier is already packed with moments hinting at Cap's eventual death, he gets one more badass instance during his final confrontation with Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes in the belly of a helicarrier. Refusing to throw another punch at his brainwashed friend, Steve is ready to let himself be beaten to death if it means deprogramming his childhood buddy. Their bromance is eventually rekindled, but Steve makes it clear that he's ready to die to bring Bucky back from Hydra's control.
'I've Got No Plans Tomorrow Night'
Things get pretty dire for The Avengers during the events of Age of Ultron, and the likelihood of someone being killed becomes more and more present as the story persisted. While characters like Tony Stark lament that fact before their big showdown with Ultron, Steve merely smirks at the possibility of dying in combat with a simple, "I've got no plans tomorrow night." It's a small moment, but it serves as a compelling reminder that Cap is a character with a long history of self-sacrifice in the comic book source material.
Including Crossbones In Civil War
A rematch between Brock "Crossbones" Rumlow (Frank Grillo) and Captain Amerca seemed inevitable ever since the events of The Winter Soldier. That said, it's worth mentioning that Crossbones' involvement in Mark Millar's Civil War comic comes during the fallout of the war between the heroes when he (and a brainwashed Sharon Carter) murder Cap when he surrenders to Iron Man. He's not an integral part of the Civil War narrative, but his inclusion in the film of the same name seems like an overt reference to The Death of Captain America that directly followed it.
What do you think? Has Marvel been hinting at Captain America's ultimate demise since 2011? We will have to wait and see when The Avengers: Infinity War debuts in theaters on May 4, 2018.