Ever since Captain America debuted back in 1941, donning the stars and stripes of the United States of America, he’s been a shining emblem of the country’s spirit. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a way to speak out about the United States’ lack of involvement in World War II, Captain America is notorious for always representing the current state of country as seen by whichever writer is penning his tales.
One of the big giveaways in analyzing what Captain America represents to his creator is by looking the costume he’s wearing during a particular era. Even though the Captain America outfit is definitely iconic, there have been multiple iterations and each one has meant something different to the hero and the readers. By his very nature, Captain America, one of the world’s greatest Avengers and the Sentinel of Liberty, will be there to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. It’s a trait that’s ingrained in his character as much as it’s a part of his uniform. People see the costume and are immediately instilled with hope. Today at CBR we’re looking at some Captain America costumes we wouldn’t mind seeing on the big screen and some that are better left to the history books.
15 WANT: BUCKY CAP
One of the MCU’s fan-favorite characters is Steve Rogers’ wartime buddy Bucky Barnes. Already appearing in multiple movies, and with teases of him wielding Captain America’s shield scattered throughout, comic book readers are waiting with baited breath to see when and/or if Bucky finally dons the mantle of the Sentinel of Liberty. Back In 2010, Steve Rogers is killed on the Capitol steps and Bucky chose to step in; the world still needed a Captain America. The actual costume was designed by comic book artist Alex Ross and first appeared in Captain America # 34.
It was enough of a departure from Steve’s traditional outfit that it didn’t feel like Bucky was trying to be Rogers; he was trying to be his own hero. Though brandishing a pistol was off-putting at first, audiences eased into the idea. It made sense, considering Bucky’s personality and the violent threats he faced.
14 DON'T WANT: EXOSKELETON CAP
The ‘90s often get a bad rep on account of the horrible “extreme” outfits and the general artwork. Though the decade actually had quite a few great stories and character designs, Captain America’s Exoskeleton suit does nothing to suggest that. After the Sentinel of Liberty was left paralyzed, following the Super Soldier formula in him burning out, Captain America had to make some hard decisions. Refusing to take his paralysis lying down, he had Tony Stark outfit him with neural receptors and an armored exoskeleton that let Cap keep punching bad guys.
The suit debuted in 1995’s Captain America #438, and it was pretty hideous. Large, clunky, and with almost no appealing qualities to it, it was the ‘90s at its very worst. Thankfully, both Cap’s paralysis and the suit only stuck around for a couple of issues.
13 WANT: FALCON CAP
There’s definitely a denomination of people out there that likely believed the only way Captain America’s outfit could be improved was through the addition of wings. Marvel Comics also apparently felt the same way, because once former-Falcon and long-time Cap partner Sam Wilson took over the mantle of Captain America, his costume became the combination of two costumes.
All in all, Falcon Cap looks pretty great. From a comic book perspective, it also makes sense that there would be wings, since that’s what he’s spent much of his superhero career training/fighting with. Already there’s speculation that Steve Rogers might not be around in the MCU much longer. If he does kick the bucket, somebody has to take up the mantle and aside from Bucky, there’s no one better for the role than Sam Wilson.
12 DON'T WANT: MANGAVERSE CAP
Because clearly what the MCU needs is to see Captain America running around in manga-themed armor made to look like elaborate cosplay. Truthfully though, there’d likely be few things as jarring as Cap’s Mangaverse armor. Appearing in 2002’s Marvel Mangaverse: New Dawn, it’s not the worst thing Steve Rogers has ever worn to fight crime, but it’s going to leave some retinas horribly scarred.
Instead of the usual stripes that have come to define a Captain America outfit, the Mangaverse armor looks like it came from a dystopia where football was the law of the land. Furthermore, Steve’s head and face is practically missing and the costume, despite its title, doesn’t look overly manga. Aside from the ginormous manga eyes Captain America is rocking, there’s nothing that screams “manga”, just awfulness.
11 WANT: JACK KIRBY'S CAP
This is the costume everybody knows and loves. It’s seen on lunchboxes across the country, and generally seen as the definitive Captain America uniform. To many, superhero costumes really don’t get much better than this. the costume first appeared in Avengers #4, after Cap was thawed from the ice after World War II, making his first appearance in the modern world. All of the elements that we have come to associate with Captain America and what he represents are seen here. You have the forehead A, the colors, the stars and stripes, and, obviously, the round shield.
Though we’ve gotten a few similes in the MCU, we haven’t gotten anything that’s exactly like the Captain America from Avengers #4. To some it might seem old fashioned, but even characters in the MCU realize that we can all use a bit of traditional values in our lives these days.
10 DON'T WANT: 1602 CAP
Marvel 1602 depicted a world where Marvel’s heroes and villains were doing their thing in the Elizabethan era. This world’s Captain America didn’t start off in the 1600s however. Rather, he was locked in mortal combat with the President-for-Life in an alternate future when he was shot in the head and sent back in time. The adventures of 1602 Captain America featured Steve Rogers’s journey to and from the Roanoke Colony and England.
Throughout out it all, Captain America opted to dress like a Native American, buckskin, head feathers, and all. It’s hard to tell whether this was brilliant or highly offensive, but we’re going to suggest the latter. Having good ‘ol white bread Steve Rogers taking up stereotypical Native American garb probably wouldn’t look good, on multiple levels, up on the big screen.
9 WANT: THE CAPTAIN
For a man who loves the United States of America with a ferocious passion, it’s uncanny how often Steve Rogers has given up the title of Captain America. In the current state of the MCU, Steve Rogers has relinquished his superhero identity. For a time, fans wondered if Steve would take on the Nomad costume or his comic book costume of The Captain. In the source material, Steve Rogers gives up the title of Captain America in protest. That doesn’t stop him from being a hero. In Captain America #337, Rogers adopted a black, red, and white costume for his new identity, The Captain. It’s a clean look that’s recognizable as part of the Captain America lineage.
The suit is a gift from the ridiculous D-Man, a “hero” most people want nothing to do with. After Rogers became Captain America again, John Walker would take the costume as his and become the U.S. Agent.
8 DON'T WANT: HYDRA CAP
Ah yes, that infamous time when Captain America became an agent of Hydra, and by association, a Nazi. No matter what one feels about the costume as a whole, and we’ll get to it in a bit, nobody, especially Disney and Marvel Studios, wants to see Captain America in theaters fighting against everything he’s supposed to represent.
The overall costume is pretty straightforward. It lacks helmet wings, and downplays the midsection stripes. The costume blends in nicely with many of other Captain America uniforms, due to its minimalist quality. Yet after Steve Rogers said, ”Hail Hydra” an entirely new meaning was given not to just to the costume, but Captain America as a whole. People immediately yearned for Cap’s classic outfit to come back, as it represented justice and tolerance.
7 WANT: EARTH X CAP
Captain America does not shirk in the face of adversity. No matter how old he is, if the call is sounded, he will be there to fight the good fight. Take for example the Steve Rogers from Earth X. He may be old, but there’s one thing Captain America never is, and that’s beaten. In this universe, Cap has apparently lost his costume from the waist up, but decided to make do by replacing it with the American Flag. Like Rogers, the flag is a bit weatherworn, but it’s still a proud, shining icon.
This Captain America doesn’t have a helmet either, just some battle scars, reminding him, and the world, of the wars he fought. It’s rather unlikely we’ll ever see Earth X in theaters. Even so, there’s something to be said about a hardened older Captain America who’s still kicking butt and taking names.
6 DON'T WANT: NOMAD
Once again we have Captain America feeling deceived by the government and then going off to do his own thing. Though there have been several versions of Nomad, we’re primarily sticking with Steve Rogers’ interpretation of the character. That said, most every other Nomad costume is equally horrendous as Steve’s and should be avoided at all cost.
Anyway, after Captain America learns that a high-ranking government official (it’s implied that President Nixon is the evildoer) is the leader of the Secret Empire, Rogers feels betrayed by the institution he represents. His faith completely shattered, he abandons his Captain America identity and starts going by the goofy-looking Nomad. Blissfully, the identity was relatively short-lived, lasting only four issues. The costume was so horrible, that Steve Rogers even tripped over its cape on occasion.
5 WANT: EXPATRIATE
Despite being a superhero who spends the majority of his time trying to defend the United States of America, Steve Rogers gets betrayed pretty often by the country he loves. In the story arc "Man Without A Country", written by Mark Waid, Captain America is exiled from America under charges of treason. Distraught by his sudden change in fortune, Steve Rogers is more depressed than ever before. Sharon Carter, realizing they need to find who’s really responsible for getting Steve falsely accused, convinces him to don a new costume.
Going by the name Expatriate, all Cap has at his disposal is an energy shield, his wits, and Sharon. All three make for a stellar combination. We’ve already seen what happens in the MCU when Captain America decides to go rogue. Though we probably won’t see him as Expatriate, it could have made for an interesting story.
4 DON'T WANT: ULTIMATE CAP
Nearly the spitting image of Steve Rogers from the mainline Marvel 616-Universe, the Ultimate Universe version of Steve Rogers typically receives nothing but criticism. Despite outshining his universal doppelganger in multiple ways, readers and fans of Captain America absolutely hated the lack of restraint this Steve Rogers displayed. Coming across as little more than a brute with a John Wayne complex, Ultimate Captain America didn’t believe in idealistic speeches or nobility. Rather, he believed some fights could only be resolved by way of a bullet.
Additionally, we’ve already seen a likeness of his costume in the MCU and frankly, anything connected to Ultimate Captain America probably wouldn’t be Marvel Studios any favors. You just can’t have Captain America up to his neck in the blood of his enemies.
3 WANT: ISAIAH BRADLEY CAP
Canonically the first black Captain America, when the US Army tested the Super Solider serum on 300 black soldiers during Project: Rebirth, seven men survived the procedure. One of those men was Isaiah Bradley. Despite all the racism and bigotry he experienced, Isaiah did his country proud on numerous occasions.
Despite later getting arrested for the act, during WWII he stole one of Captain America’s spare uniforms and donned it for battle, however his version of the costume was a tad different. It wasn’t as polished, and had more grit to it. If Steve Rogers does get replaced in the MCU, why go with Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson, when you can go with one of the first and greatest Captain Americas? The MCU’s history is expanding, and even if it’s only in a flashback, Isaiah Bradley and his Captain America outfit would be welcomed with open arms.
2 DON'T WANT: YEOMAN AMERICA
When Kurt Busiek brought back the Avengers in his spellbinding series, the writer went as big as possible. One of the first villains he had Earth’s Mightiest Heroes face off against was the evil Morgan Le Fay. The mad sorceress had enacted a master plan, involving stealing some Asgardian treasures and capturing the Scarlet Witch, all in the name of rewriting reality. Though the Avengers try to stop her, Morgan Le Fay succeeds, distorting reality completely and causing the current time period to be altered to resemble a medieval setting.
It’s not just the world’s that’s been changed though, but our heroes too. One particularly bold reimagining was Steve Rogers as Yeoman America. Dressed from head-to-toe in knightly regalia, the man looked bad. There’s nothing and no way the MCU is going to have Steve Rogers dressed like he escaped from the Renaissance Fair.
1 WANT: CAPWOLF
Comic books can be weird. Captain America comics, though oftentimes kooky in their own right, are pretty straightforward. Yet someone in the ‘90s thought it would blow people’s collective minds if Marvel turned Steve Rogers into a full-blown werewolf. After being captured by Nightshade, Cap was injected with a serum and turned him into a werewolf. The lycanthrope Cap only faintly remembered his time as an Avenger and spent much of his time a slobbering mess, scampering around, and howling at the moon in his tattered uniform.
This wasn’t the first time Nightshade experimented on Captain America, as she once (unsuccessfully) tried to turn him into a woman. Right now in the MCU, Steve Rogers has clearly fallen on hard times. Maybe all it would take is transforming into a furry creature of the night to bring his smile back. Don’t lie; you’d pay to see Werewolf Captain America.