SYFY WIRE's Infinity War Roundup is your go-to guide for everything you need to know about Marvel's massive superhero crossover, Avengers: Infinity War. In the weeks leading up to Infinity War's April 27 premiere, SYFY WIRE will be rounding up every important character arc and plot detail you need to know from the past 10 years and 18 movies.
Today's entry will take a look at the main characters from the films that feature the man out of time — Captain America.
Let's take a look at the MCU lives of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier), and Sam "Falcon" Wilson thus far.
STEVE ROGERS/CAPTAIN AMERICA (CHRIS EVANS)
Before we start... does anybody want to get out? We didn't think so.
When we first met Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), he was a very skinny kid who didn't like bullies. He really wanted to fight for his country (in World War II) but was denied several times. His last attempt to sign up caught the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), and the good doctor thought that Steve would be the perfect candidate for his experimental super soldier serum.
Training under Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Steve proved worthy and was given the serum by Dr. Erskine and Tony Stark's father, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). The experiment was a success, and while Steve used to be a scrawny little twerp, he was now a jacked, muscle-filled powerhouse. The nefarious secret agency known as HYDRA killed Dr. Erskine, and his serum was never able to be duplicated — many tried to do so over the years, but Steve remains the only successful result.
At first, Steve was used as a promotional figure to sell war bonds, but he put himself into the action when his childhood friend Bucky Barnes (someone who was allowed to enlist) got captured by HYDRA forces. Steve liberated Bucky and his entire battalion and was finally taken seriously and deemed an asset. Howard Stark built a shield for Steve, which was made out of a rare metal called Vibranium. The shield is nearly indestructible and can be tossed around in all kinds of exciting ways.
Captain America, Peggy Carter, Bucky, and a team known as "The Howling Commandos" took the fight to Hitler, HYDRA, and the villain behind HYDRA, Red Skull. A result of Erskine's serum gone wrong, Red Skull used a mysterious object known as the Tesseract to create scientifically enhanced weapons for HYDRA, with the assistance of Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). They didn't make much of a difference, and before long Cap and his team almost wiped them off the map.
During one of their missions, Bucky fell to his death. Steve grieved, and Peggy consoled him. They were super into each other in a major way. Do we mean Steve and Bucky, or Steve and Peggy? In either case, the answer is yes.
Red Skull soon planned his last-ditch assault, which involved the destruction of almost every major city there was. Steve kissed Peggy, boarded a giant plane, confronted Red Skull, and won the fight — whether he is scrawny or huge, Steve always maintains that "he can do this all day."
He knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times in his stage presentations. You wanna go up against that? We didn't think so.
Red Skull is seemingly vaporized by the Tesseract, which then vanishes. It would reemerge later, and also be revealed to be the Space Stone. In trying to stop the plane from dropping its bombs, Steve had to divert the thing into the ice. He had a sad farewell with Peggy over the radio, and the plane went down.
Cut to the period of the MCU right between Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012) — the frozen, still-alive Steve Rogers was found during an ice expedition. Thank god for those! Steve became a man out of time after waking up in the 21st century. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) convinced him to don the stars and stripes once again in The Avengers, where Cap met Tony, and they formed a volatile (yet loving) friendship. Cap led the team to success against the plots of Loki, and then went to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Cap became involved in some highly shady business having to do with a mysterious assassin known only as the Winter Soldier. Teaming up with Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Cap discovered that S.H.E.I.L.D. had been taken over by HYDRA from the inside, that the new "Project Insight" program was going to murder millions of people, and that the Winter Soldier was none other than his old friend Bucky Barnes — alive, brainwashed, and ready to kill!
Thankfully, Steve made friends with a veteran named Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who had access to a high-tech flying bird suit. Together with Romanoff and Wilson, Cap stopped Project Insight, while Romanoff showed the world the truth about S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. Steve had to fight Bucky in the end, and refused to kill his former friend... he's with him until the end of the line. Steve managed to survive the wreckage of Project Insight because Bucky saved him.
We should also mention that Steve kicked all kinds of ass up and down in this movie. He beat the smithers out of every bully he saw and took down a Quinjet with nothing but his shield. He's awesome. He's also pretty untrusting of any kind of government oversight after this film, with good reason.
Steve made sure all of the Avengers minded their language in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and led them to victory over HYDRA as well as Ultron's forces. He managed to move Thor's hammer a tiny bit, and also had another argument with Tony. At the end of the film, he began to train the next lineup of Avengers with Romanoff.
That team accidentally destroyed part of a building in Lagos at the start of Captain America: Civil War (2016), and because of that, the government wanted to have oversight over the Avengers using something called The Sokovia Accords. Steve is immediately against this, butting heads with (who else?) Tony Stark. Steve was in a very emotional place because his beloved Peggy Carter died in this movie, having lived a long and incredible life. She was also the one who taught Steve to stand his ground and never to back down from his beliefs. It's a lesson that he kept in mind for the entire film.
He was still trying to get to the bottom of what was going on with Bucky (with help from Sam) when Bucky became entangled in the plot of a man called Zemo. Between Bucky appearing to kill the King of Wakanda and the escalating feud between himself and Tony, Steve had his hands full. He managed to protect Bucky from the misplaced vengeance of the Wakandan prince, T'Challa, and also got a kiss from Peggy's grand-niece Sharon Carter... but soon enough he had to rally his own team to fight for their right to party.
Fighting alongside Falcon, Bucky, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Cap managed to elude authorities thanks to Romanoff changing sides at the last moment. Escaping with Bucky, Cap went to figure out what Zemo's plot was. Tony caught up with them, but when Zemo revealed that Bucky killed Tony's parents, Cap and Tony had the brawl that every movie has hinted at since they first met. Steve saved Bucky, but had to sacrifice his friendship with Tony. When Tony told him that he didn't deserve the shield that Howard Stark made him, Steve dropped it and left.
He rescued the rest of Team Cap from a prison known as the Raft and then left Tony a note and a burner phone — if Tony ever needs him, he'll be there.
Where we left him: Cap seemed to vanish after he rescued the others from the Raft, but the post-credits scenes of Civil War show that he took Bucky to be healed in Wakanda. He's made friends with T'Challa, aka Black Panther, and aside from seeing him pop up in some high school PSAs in Spider-Man: Homecoming, that's all we know. Actually, that's not true. We know that the others are gonna need him, and they're gonna need him bad. Cap can't come back soon enough.
BUCKY BARNES/THE WINTER SOLDIER (SEBASTIAN STAN)
Bucky grew up in Brooklyn with Steve, and bade him farewell when he joined up to fight in World War II. Before he knew it, Steve was rescuing him from HYDRA, and Bucky was surprised to see his formerly scrawny friend looking all jacked. Following this, Bucky didn't choose to follow Captain America— he chose to follow Steve Rogers.
Great! Hooray for friends! Bucky fell to his death from an elevated mountain train soon after. Not so great.
Presumed dead, Bucky was in fact kidnapped by HYDRA agents. We don't know how he survived the fall, but it's presumed that earlier HYDRA experimentation while he was being held captive let that happen. In any case, HYDRA brainwashed the hell out of him, turned him into an assassin, gave him a metal arm, and set him to work for the next few decades. He did a lot of work for the Soviets, and also took out Tony Stark's parents. None of this was of his own volition because, y'know, brainwashing.
Somewhere along the way, he became an asset to the masterminds behind Project Insight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He is actually the Winter Soldier of the film's title — an almost unstoppable killing machine that runs rampant. Romanoff had heard legends about him but did not know about his true identity. While fighting with Steve, the Winter Soldier's mask came off and Steve saw that he was actually Bucky. Steve didn't really understand, and Bucky didn't know who Bucky was. "Who the hell is Bucky?"
Still, something was changed within him when he saw Steve, and something was not the same. His brainwashing became more difficult, and though the Winter Bucky tried to stop Steve at the end of the film, he failed. Not only that, he saved Steve from dying. In one of the movie's post-credit scenes, Winter Bucky can be seen learning about himself in a Captain America museum exhibit.
Now on the loose, Winter Bucky lay low and tried to be forgotten, until he was framed for the murder of King T'Chaka of Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War. He was framed by a Sokovian man named Zemo, and used as a pawn in multiple instances, all in the name of getting revenge on the Avengers. Winter Bucky gradually regains a bit of his identity and memory, fights on Team Cap, and goes with Cap to stop Zemo at the end of the film. He's caught in the middle of Tony and Steve's epic bro-fight in the film's finale and has his metal arm ripped off by Tony.
In one of the film's post-credit scenes, we see that Steve has taken Winter Bucky to Wakanda in order to recover and heal. Though T'Challa had wanted vengeance on him, he realized that he had been manipulated. He also realized that vengeance and an empty sack is worth the sack.
Right before Infinity War: Winter Bucky is still in Wakanda, but has moved out of his glass containment chamber to a small hut by a river. In the tag of Black Panther, he is shown talking to Shuri. She seems to like him, and Bucky seems like he's closer than ever to being himself again. Winter Soldier no more!
SAM WILSON/FALCON (ANTHONY MACKIE)
Sam was a veteran that Steve Rogers ran into (and past) on morning jogs in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was a connection that stuck, and that's a good thing. Soon enough, Cap was in need of all the help he could get, and thankfully Sam Wilson had a technically advanced prototype bird suit with guns on its wings. Sam proved highly useful in taking down Project Insight and then popped up briefly at Avengers Tower in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
He's firmly an Avenger at the end of that movie, training at their new upstate facility. He was still there when Scott Lang tried to break in during Ant-Man (2015), and Lang actually got the better of him in the battle of Bug vs. Bird. It turned out to be another good connection, because Wilson was able to bring Lang into Team Cap during Captain America: Civil War. He also added a little Falcon-drone to his outfit.
He's firmly on Cap's side for the entirety of the film, and even warmed up to Winter Bucky, who tore one of his wings off in a previous movie. Though Wilson claims to hate him, they both secretly love each other.
After the airport battle, Wilson was locked up with the rest of Team Cap — but Steve broke all of them free soon enough.
Where we left him: He was being broken out of the Raft by Steve. We don't know where he went after that, but we hope that he and Steve are together, because they both need friends.
All in all, what is the current state of the Cap crew? To paraphrase the gym teacher from Spider-Man: Homecoming, they're all pretty much war criminals. They don't follow the Sokovia accords, and they likely never will. Bucky is recovering in Wakanda, and both Sam and Steve are in the wind. There is no question that all three of them will be needed for the fight against Thanos. Wilson has proven his worth time and time again, Bucky looks to have gotten his marbles back (yet lost none of his strength), and Steve? You know him. He can do this all day.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, where we take the Infinity War Roundup for a walk on the cosmic side — that's right, it's almost time to catch up with our friends from Guardians of the Galaxy!