Today is Memorial Day, and to mark the occasion, we’re taking a look at 10 characters who have held the Captain America mantle in the Marvel Universe…though some were admittedly more worthy than others!
Introduced in the pages of Captain America Comics #1 In March 1941, Captain America has become one of the Marvel Universe’s most iconic characters both on the page and screen.
Of course, when we talk about Captain America, we’re referring to Steve Rogers. He’s not the only one to have held the mantle over the decades, and there are some who will argue that he’s not even the best Captain America! That’s a controversial statement, but one we hope will make you even more excited to see where he places in this ranking of those to have wielded the shield.
Heroes and villains have both donned the red, white, and blue over the years, but some did Captain America greater justice than others, even if it was for just a short period of time compared to Steve.
Then, there are those who hail from another Earth! To check them out, hit the “Next” button below…
10. Frank Castle
Civil War established that Frank Castle had great respect for Steve Rogers, even after the most patriotic Avenger beat him up for gunning down a couple of criminals in front of him.
After Cap’s apparent assassination, Frank decided to reinvent the mantle for himself, becoming a twisted cross between Captain America and The Punisher. He continued to kill those who broke the law, but ultimately agreed to relinquish the mask when he was confronted by Bucky (who was understandably furious that he was killing in Cap’s name).
His time as “Captain America” was brief, and outside of the psychotic William Burnside, Frank is easily the worst “hero” to have taken on this role in the Marvel Universe.
It’s not that Captain America doesn’t kill; he just doesn’t kill like this.
9. Samantha Wilson
On the world that Spider-Gwen calls home, Captain America is a young black woman called, wait for it, Samantha Wilson.
However, she was no former sidekick. Instead, she was convinced by Peggy Carter to take part in Project: Rebirth, and her story played out not all that different from Steve’s. Taking on the likes of the Red Skull and Baron Zemo, she too ended up in the ice, but became an icon in the process.
In the present, she worked for SHIELD, and continued to fight the good fight.
This was a special Captain America, but one who hasn’t had quite enough time on the page for us to rank any higher than this.
8. John Walker
John Walker briefly became the MCU’s new Captain America in The Falcon and The Winter Soldierbut fans of the comics will know him better as US Agent (a mantle his live-action counterpart has now taken).
The military veteran was enlisted by the US Government to fill the void left by Steve Rogers when he became Nomad, and while his stint as Captain America was short-lived, he made quite an impact as a far more violent, darker Cap who was a little less forgiving while protecting his country.
Walker later overcame his mental health issues to be portrayed in a heroic light, but his time as Captain America wasn’t quite so positive.
Marvel Studios stuck to the comics here, but made John a slightly more layered character.
7. Sharon Rogers
A character in Marvel’s Future Fight Rather than the comics, Sharon Rogers is the daughter of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter.
In that world, Steve never ended up taking a plunge into the ice. Instead, he got his happy ending with Peggy, and Sharon started working for SHIELD after her parents retired. This led to her becoming Captain America, and that new, formidable-looking shield was created for her by Iron Man.
We love the idea of this Captain America, and it’s something Marvel Studios could now choose to explore on screen.
After all, if Steve rewrote the timeline when he went back in time, this Sharon could be out there somewhere, but would likely be his grandaughter rather than daughter.
6. Peggy Carter
Talking of Peggy Carter, it’s not just in the What If? animated series that she wields the shield.
On Earth-86315, Peggy is convinced by Howard Stark to take the Super Soldier Serum after both Dr. Abraham Erskine and Steve Rogers are gunned down by the Nazis.
This Cap first appeared in the Marvel Puzzle Quest mobile game, and while she doesn’t have much history (she was only introduced in 2018), Peggy made her mark. That’s despite having an origin story which is very much rooted in tragedy after the shocking demise of Steve.
Between What If…? and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswe can’t wait to see more from Peggy, albeit as Captain Britain rather than Captain America.
5. Isaiah Bradley
Retconned into the Marvel Universe’s history, Isaiah Bradley was among the 300 Black soldiers the US Government tested the Super Soldier Serum on after Steve Rogers was successfully transformed into Captain America.
His story is a dark and upsetting one, but it’s well worth tracking down (especially given how relevant it is to what’s happening in the world today). He didn’t end up in ice, but left quite the legacy after his World War II adventures, with his grandson, Eli Bradley, the one-time leader of the Young Avengers as Patriot.
Isaiah is often overlooked, but an important, relevant, part of the Captain America legacy.
The character played a small, yet undeniably impactful role in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and helped Sam Wilson realise the cost that comes with being a Black Captain America.
4. Danielle Cage
Before leaving Marvel for DC, Brian Michael Bendis teased the possibility that Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, Danielle, might be a Skrull imposter.
That’s yet to be addressed, but in one possible future, she becomes the new Captain America.
Her powers developed from her superhero parents rather than a Super Soldier Serum, and she was both incredibly strong and bulletproof. That made her a force to be reckoned with as she battled the Golden Skull and his minions. Despite a limited amount of time on the page, this Cap resonated with readers in a big way.
We just hope we get to see more of her soon.
3. Sam Wilson
When the Super Soldier Serum was removed from Steve Rogers, he reverted to his normal self, and became an old man in the process (it was pretty wacky).
Steve took control of SHIELD alongside Sharon Carter, but the Marvel Universe needed a Captain America. That was where Sam Wilson came in, and while the former Falcon wielding the shield was initially met with a mixed response, he soon proved that he had what it took to hold this mantle.
With Redwing by his side, and those wings still part of his arsenal, Sam led the Avengers, took center stage in a number of big event stories, and even romanced the Mighty Thor (Jane Foster).
In The Falcon and The Winter SoldierSam’s MCU finalist chose finally to wield the shield and will now be the focus of the upcoming Captain America 4.
2. Bucky Barnes
This might come down to personal preference more than anything else, but Bucky Barnes was a great Captain America.
Despite being a wanted criminal for the time he spent as The Winter Soldier, Bucky realized he needed to pick up where his best friend, Steve Rogers, left off, and it didn’t take long for him to prove himself.
In Ed Brubaker’s stellar Captain America run, Bucky took on all manner of threats. He also became a pivotal member of the New Avengers, the underground team who worked to protect the world in the shadows Iron Man’s “official” Mighty Avengers. He even gave his life in battle during Fear Itself!
Thankfully, he was brought back from the dead, and has mostly been used as The Winter Soldier since.
1. Steve Rogers
The blue-eyed, blonde-haired Steve Rogers was deemed unfit for military service, but wanted to do whatever it took to protect his country from the threat the Nazis posed.
That eventually led to him taking the Super Soldier Serum, and becoming World War II hero, Captain America. Plunging into the ice saving the world from Baron Zemo, he spent frozen decades, only to be pulled from the depths by the Avengers. In an America unfamiliar to him, Steve continued serving not just his country, but the entire world, against all manner of threats.
He’s without a doubt the best Captain America, and not just because he’s the original.
Room for a villainous blip thanks to Secret Empireit’s hard to fault Steve Rogers, and even harder to argue with him being the best Captain America in Marvel Comics history!