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Big things are on the horizon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Avengers: Infinity War right around the corner and Avengers 4 set to debut on the big screen next year, the entire silver screen Marvel world is about to build to a climax unlike anything seen in Phase One or Phase Two. In that regard, there are few characters whose arcs will pay off more than that of Chris Evans' Steve Rogers.
Captain America has always been one of the characters to watch out for as the MCU has built to this moment, and that seems even more poignant based off of the recent remarks made by the Russos stating that Avengers 4 would pay off story elements planted all the way back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On that note, we have put together a list of awesome Captain America moments that we feel need to pay off by the time the credits roll on Avengers 4. Let's get started with Cap's willingness to put his life on the line for the sake of others.
Steve's Willingness To Sacrifice Himself
Steve Rogers is a hero. There's really no way to get around that clear fact. From his first appearance on the silver screen back during the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, the character has made it very obvious that he will put his life on the line in the service of others. Now with the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe building towards a massive climax in the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, we need to see that idea taken to its natural conclusion with a major sacrifice by Steve.
To be clear, we don't know exactly how this will pan out. All we know for sure is that Chris Evans plans to walk away from Cap after Avengers 4, which means Marvel Studios will likely look for a way to take the character off of the board. Cap has sacrificed himself numerous times in the comics (particularly in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline), and he has gone on a number of suicide missions in the MCU, so it stands to reason that the next two Avengers films could offer up the natural conclusion to this long-running theme.
Steve's Love Of The Carter Women
Pretty much every solo franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe features at least one love story, but the one featured in the Captain America franchise is particularly tragic. At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers ends up in the modern era and loses his chance at a dance with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). However, over the course of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, Steve falls in love with Peggy's niece Sharon (Emily Van Camp) as he copes with Peggy's eventual death.
Both of these love stories bring something unique to the table, but neither of them has reached a satisfying conclusion yet -- which makes sense, as Steve Rogers hasn't had much time to settle down over the last few movies. With Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 on the horizon, we need to see a proper conclusion to both of these stories. Will Steve get to go back and have his dance with Peggy? Will he end up with Sharon in the end? There are plenty of directions for this to go, but no matter what, Marvel needs to wrap it up.
The Return Of Hydra
Ever since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hydra's relevance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been largely relegated to the small screen, mainly through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the evil organization is still a huge element of Steve Rogers' arc as a character, and there's a strong case to be made that we have not seen the full resolution of his longstanding rivalry with the rogue Nazi science division yet.
With Thanos (Josh Brolin) and The Black Order coming to town in Avengers: Infinity War, it's hard to properly tell how much room there may be for a full showdown with the remaining element of Hydra. Having said that, between the next two movies that will prominently feature Chris Evans as everyone's favorite star-spangled Avenger, we think Marvel Studios needs to dive back into the Hydra well and pay off one of the most protracted conflicts in Captain America's life. It can't just end with the death of Baron Von Stucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in 2015.
Steve's Growing Cynicism
Steve Rogers has come a long way since his skinny, pre-Project Rebirth days in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character began his life as a gung-ho patriot who lived and almost died by the stars and stripes. Now, he has seen the best and worst of America, and his growing sense of cynicism post-Captain America: Civil War has really informed his evolution into a far more cynical and jaded type of hero. After all, from The Winter Soldier onward, he was betrayed SO many times.
Though we obviously have no idea what the future specifically holds for Captain America in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, it seems reasonable to assume that the MCU won't keep him in that dark place forever. At his core, Captain America stands out as one of Marvel's most optimistic heroes on even his worst days, so it stands to reason that the arc of the next two Avengers movies could see the bearded Nomad return to the hopeful and optimistic hero that took on The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) back during the events of The First Avenger.
Bucky's Path To Redemption
Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has endured one of the most grueling and emotionally compelling character arcs throughout his tenure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beginning with his first appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky's relevance became particularly prominent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he was revealed as the titular villain of the second Captain America movie. Ever since his return in the modern era, Bucky has found himself on a tumultuous path to redeem himself for his past sins and find some semblance of happiness.
The post-credits scene for Black Panther seems to see Bucky in a place where he's no longer susceptible to Hydra's brainwashing, but the newly-christened White Wolf still has a ways to go until he has fully recovered from everything that happened from Captain America: The Winter Soldier onward. With the dynamic between Cap and Bucky seemingly playing a significant role in the events of Avengers: Infinity War, we will need to see the full arc of his recovery so that he can proceed to the next phase of his life.