5 Ways The MCU Changed Captain America (& 5 Things Kept the Same)

This list contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers, has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. Since then, he’s featured in six films and had cameos in two more. The MCU bid goodbye to him in Endgame, which saw an elderly Steve pass the Captain America mantle to Falcon.

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In the comics, Captain America has existed since 1941. The films draw heavily from this long history, but not without making some significant changes. Here are five differences, and five similarities, between the MCU and comic book version of Captain America.

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In The First Avenger, Cap leads the Howling Commandos through the Second World War. A group of soldiers, the team forms after Steve rescues each member from HYDRA. The Commandos attack HYDRA bases across Europe together and later reappear in the Agent Carter TV series.

In the comics, Cap is part of a superhero team called the Invaders. First made up of Cap, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, Toro, and Bucky, the group fight alongside Allied forces. The team has reunited several times since the war, often including different members.


The First Avenger sees a scrawny and sickly Steve Rogers given the Super Soldier Serum. Developed by scientist Abraham Erskine, the serum enhances Steve physically, giving him superior strength and speed.

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There's pretty much no difference in the origin of Steve's abilities in the comics. As in the MCU, Steve participates in Project: Rebirth when he can't get into the army. He becomes a Super Soldier, but Erskine’s assassination means he is the only one of his kind.


The MCU’s version of Peggy Carter is a British SSR agent, working alongside Captain America throughout his involvement in the war. She’s also the love of Steve’s life, and he leaves the present behind in Endgame to go back in time and marry her.

The comics have it different: Peggy is a member of the French Resistance who Steve works with during the war. Though Steve and Peggy are still romantically involved, Steve's key relationship is instead with Sharon Carter. Originally Peggy's younger sister, a later retcon made her Peggy’s niece. Sharon frequently fights alongside Steve as Agent 13.


Captain America comes up against many of his famous villains in the MCU. He defeats Red Skull, deals with Arnim Zola and Helmut Zemo, and fights Batroc and Crossbones.

Cap frequently fights these same villains throughout his comic book stories, though the MCU does take some liberties. Heinrich Zemo’s bomb from the comics, which leads to Steve being frozen and Bucky being killed, becomes the Red Skull’s many bombs in The First Avenger. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Zola features as an A.I. via a computer screen and moving camera, resembling his appearance in the comics.


In the MCU, Bucky Barnes is Steve’s childhood best friend and fellow soldier. After his apparent death on a mission, Bucky resurfaces in The Winter Soldier as a brainwashed assassin under HYDRA’s control. Bucky eventually regains his memories and identity to fight alongside Steve in later films.

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The James Barnes of the comics is Steve’s young sidekick during the war, using his nickname "Bucky" as his superhero identity. Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America brought him back from the dead as the Soviet-controlled Winter Soldier. Steve restores Bucky’s memories using the Cosmic Cube, and Bucky later becomes Captain America after Steve’s death.


After going back in time to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful places—and staying behind to live with Peggy—an elderly Steve reappears in the present to give the shield to his close friend Sam Wilson.

In the comics, the Iron Nail causes Steve to lose the effects of the Super Soldier Serum, which turns him into an old man. In no position to be Captain America, Steve passes the torch to Falcon and works as a S.H.I.E.L.D. commander while Sam wields the shield—and fields a massive public backlash.


Both the MCU and comics have Cap and Iron Man facing each other in a battle that divides the superhero community. In the comics, this is down to the Superhuman Registration Act, which requires all superheroes and mutants to register with the U.S. government. The fight comes down to the Sokovia Accords placing the Avengers under UN control in Captain America: Civil War—as well as some manipulation from Zemo.

The biggest difference between the comics and MCU here is that, in the comics, Steve is arrested and ultimately shot dead by Crossbones and Sharon Carter. Although he eventually returns, Steve's survival in the MCU is probably the biggest change from the comics.


Faced with a plane full of the Red Skull’s bombs, Steve has no choice but to crash the plane into the ocean in The First Avenger. Unbeknownst to anyone, Steve survived the crash and remained frozen until the 21st Century, when S.H.I.E.L.D. revived him.

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Much the same thing happens to Steve in the comics, though with a slight change. After falling from Zemo’s bomb, Steve was frozen in the English Channel. Namor unknowingly throws the ice block holding Steve into the ocean, eventually resulting in Steve being found by the Avengers.


The Winter Soldier sees Natasha Romanoff and Steve develop an unlikely but strong friendship as they work together to unravel the mystery of Nick Fury’s apparent assassination, eventually discovering that HYDRA had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.

Natasha doesn’t appear in this arc in the comics, but she does take an active role in the aftermath of Steve’s death, helping Bucky adjust to being the new Captain America. Natasha and Bucky also share a past in the comics which hasn’t been introduced to the MCU: as the Winter Soldier, Bucky trained Natasha in the Red Room.


In the MCU, Steve stands up for what he believes in and isn’t afraid of a fight—from an alleyway brawl to taking on Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet alone. It’s this determination and strength of character that leads him into World War II, as well as what gives him his knack for great speeches.

From his first cover appearance punching Adolf Hitler in the face, Steve Rogers in the comics has always had the same moral integrity as his MCU equivalent. His conscience even leads him to surrender and accept arrest during Civil War, as he believed the heroes involved had lost sight of why they were fighting. This event also gave rise to Steve's famous "you move" speech.

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