Leaving a franchise is never easy; not least one the size and stature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel’s three-phase Infinity Saga, which ran between 2008 and 2019, largely dealt with the stories of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor – three of the founding members of the Avengers.
When Avengers: Endgame drew Phase Three to a close nearly two years’ ago, those stories appeared to be wrapped up with it. Or so it seemed…
We know Iron Man is to appear in some capacity during the upcoming Black Widow movie (hopefully to be released this year), which turns back the clock to a post-Civil War timeline. Meanwhile, Thor has a fourth solo film on the way – a first for the franchise.
As for Captain America, well that departure seemed pretty set in stone.
Actor Chris Evans has previously made clear his desire to pursue alternative projects after hanging up his shield, though recent murmurs suggest he could be set to return. His final farewell saw him travel back in time to spend a lifetime with love interest Peggy Carter; an opportunity he was earlier denied when frozen for decades.
The initial purpose of his journey was to return each of the six Infinity Stones to their original point in time, only later deciding to remain in the past. So while a return to the franchise might undo the emotional farewell granted by Endgame, that’s where I’d like to see Steve Rogers again.
If Evans does in fact re-appear, a limited Disney Plus series would be considerably more apt than another big-screen venture. Such a series could focus on his journey through time, complete with interactions with former allies and former villains.
In particular, a reunion with former adversary Red Skull would be a particularly interesting arc, with the two crossing paths on Vormir’s Soul Stone mission. You could easily churn six episodes out of that concept (one for each stone), perhaps extending it further to seven or eight to align itself more closely to Marvel’s current template.
At least then you could say that the big screen version of Rogers is finished for good, whilst still tapping into unseen territory. Alternatively, it has been suggested that Evans could be back on the roster in a yet unseen version of the character on screen, adopting his evil HYDRA identity.
The character was first seen in Marvel Comics’ Secret Empire storyline – and this was alluded to in Avengers: Endgame when Rogers whispered ‘Hail Hydra’ to Jasper Sitwell. There are certainly a number of that Phase Four could re-incorporate Steve Rogers, though I’d hope that any direct influence will be limited given the shift in focus towards a new wave of heroes.