Chris Evans' Captain America in this year's Avengers: Infinity War was a man without a country, a former patriot turned fugitive insurgent after the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War. But while Infinity War ultimately dressed the Marvel Cinematic Universe's superhero in a faded, tattered version of his uniform from Civil War, early concept art for the film had a different design for the Star Spangled Avenger.
Revealed in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War - The Art of the Movie, concept art by Marvel Studios Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding had Steve Rogers originally sporting an outfit inspired by recurring Captain America friend-and-foe US Agent, with more black than the usual dark blue and a prominent stars and stripes design across the torso.
"The Secret Avenger look came about because him being more clandestine and not part of a larger group like the Avengers meant that he could be wearing more black," explained Meinerding about the early design. "That's where the US Agent stuff came out, too, where he could be wearing black and red, and see if there was any value in that."
Following the events of Civil War, Evans' character was rumored to take on the alter ego Nomad, an alternate persona used by Steve Rogers after dropping the mantle of Captain America in the comics in the 1970s. This rumor was ultimately refuted by Infinity War co-director Joe Russo. Now, Meinerding reveals that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige wanted to find a way for the character to retain his iconic look while acknowledging his drastic change in status.
"The costume took a long time because I think Kevin [Feige] was looking for ways of Cap still feeling iconic. He didn't want him stepping away from the super hero stuff for the whole movie. And if you put him in fatigues at the beginning of the movie, there's not really a reason for him to get out of them or change costumes at any point in the rest of the film," continued Meinerding. "So we were searching for a while, including versions that were riffs on US Agent and some things that were riffs on Nomad -- subtle one, but still trying to go there to see if there was something interesting to mine, as if he's almost taken on a different persona."
With the stars and stripes emblazoned across the early design's torso, Steve Rogers' proposed outfit is recognizable but too visibly different than previous incarnations of his uniform as Captain America throughout his earlier appearances in the MCU. The costume used in the final film is more consistent with previous iterations with vertical stars and stripes displayed less prominently and the outline of the single iconic star still present on the chest though the star itself appears long since discarded by the fugitive superhero.
The scrapped design evokes the Captain America rival created by writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Kieron Dwyer in the pages of 1989's Captain America #354. It's also is visually reminiscent of Steve Rogers' 1980s alter ego The Captain, introduced in Captain America #337 before Rogers ultimately confronts future US Agent John Walker in Captain America #350 and reclaims the mantle he had previously abandoned.
While it's unlikely that Chris Evans will adopt the design in next year's Avengers 4, the concept art does provide an interesting look at how the character could have appeared while operating as a rogue superhero in the eyes of the international community without abandoning his patriotic ideals.
In the meantime, both Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War - The Art of the Movie and the film are available now.