There are a lot of questions surrounding Avengers 4 and what Marvel Studios has planned for Phase 4, but one of the most buzzed about topics has to do with Captain America. The popular belief is that good ol' Steve Rogers will bite the bullet in Avengers 4, leaving his mantle up for grabs by either Bucky or Falcon. However, the Russo Brothers threw a wrench into the works when they recently said that Chris Evans may not be done with Cap, leaving me to wonder if it isn't better to just let the character live but retire him from active duty.
Anthony and Joe Russo have stepped in to throw a little water on those Cap Will Die theories by stating Chris Evans may not be finished after Avengers 4. If Cap was going to die, they certainly wouldn't announce that, but it's an intriguing bit of information that can mean a few different things. Speaking for myself, I think it opens the door for an interesting future where the mantle of Captain America can rest with Steve Rogers.
Chris Evans' continued involvement with Captain America can mean a few things. The character could go against expectation and survive Avengers 4. From there, Steve can retire from being Captain America either because he's ready to ride into the sunset or because he is physically unable to soldier on. Considering Steve's determination and inability to avoid a situation heading south, I'd say the second option is more likely.
By keeping him alive, Marvel can bring Chris Evans -- who's been wanting to focus his time on other projects -- in a limited capacity as a mentor or source of advice. I would rather a clean cut from the character by giving him a true ending, but it really depends on how Avengers 4 shakes out
Captain America in the MCU has always fascinated me because people have been waiting for him to die since the second he first arrived on screen. That doesn't come from any dark desire or hatred of the character -- far from it. Cap is one of the most beloved characters in the MCU. His death is more of an expectation because that's what happens to the character in the comics.
Long story short, Captain America is murdered at the end of Marvel's popular Civil War event, leaving Bucky to take over the role for the next few years. Steve Rogers eventually returned from the grave, and took up the shield once again... until the next time he had to retire for a few years.
Later on, Cap ends up becoming an old man (it's an even longer story) so Falcon steps up to become the new Captain America. Both Falcon and Bucky have their supporters to become Captain America in the MCU, and while that would certainly be an interesting story for either character, why do we need a new Cap at all?
This isn't the comics, where no one ever ages and you can endlessly reboot or change a character every couple of years and then snap it back to normal. There can always be a Captain America in the comics, but the movies will eventually hit a point of diminishing returns.
Anything that Marvel Studios does is going to be in the long term. Whether it's Bucky or Falcon, that's the next Captain America for maybe 10 years. Both Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie are charming and talented enough to handle the role, but my question is what happens after they are done? Does a new character just keep taking over until either the MCU ends or the sun explodes?
It gets boring to repeat the same story beat over and over again. That's a reason why it's okay to just end the Captain America legacy with Steve Rogers. There's power in an ending, where a character can get a proper send-off for a satisfying conclusion. An ending is something that never happens anymore in comics. Steve Rogers deserves to have that chance in the movies.
Plus, it's not like Bucky and Falcon need to be Captain America. They are good characters in their own right, and they don't necessarily need to change identities to reach the next level, if you will. They can still get the call to action from time to time without carrying a shield around. They've also reportedly got their own streaming show on Disney Play in the works, so it's not like the two of them will be starved for exposure if the show is greenlit.
Not having Captain America take up a slot on the release schedule also leaves room for other, arguably more interesting movies. There are plenty of characters other than Cap out there deserving of movies, and Phase 4 is wide open to give them that chance. We've already seen what a film like Black Panther can do, and Phase 4 is already getting filled with exciting new prospects.
In addition to newer franchises like Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and (fingers-crossed) Doctor Strange, Black Widow is finally getting her own movie. More obscure new properties like The Eternals and Shang-Chi are also in development. It's hard to imagine any of those three projects happening when the release date had to go to a more established character like Captain America. With the bigger fish likely leaving the pond after Avengers 4, the MCU is going to be a more exciting and diverse place.
I think that if Steve Rogers were to die or retire, his vibranium shield should stay with him. While Captain America can be someone other than Steve, I feel that it isn't necessary to extend the lifespan of the character just because the comics do it or people expect it. Not everything needs to go on forever, so why not give Captain America and Steve Rogers the send-off they deserve? Ultimately, it should be for whatever makes the best story, and in this case that might be giving Captain America a rest so that the new kids can play.