MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Captain America was originally going to fight the 1950s Captain America in the third "Captain America" film.
One of the interesting things when it comes to the development of the various superhero films is the differences that happen between the end of one and the beginning of the next one. In other words, there is a world of possibilities for the next film when you finish with one film, even in today's world of interconnected films. There are obviously some guidelines, like when you finish "Captain America: Winter Soldier," you have to take a look at what is going to happen in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" or whatever. But other than that, you have a pretty wide path.
And into that wide path can come some pretty different ideas. After the last Movie Legends Revealed about "Captain America: Civil War," reader Joe G. wrote in to tell me about what was being planned for the third "Captain America" film before they settled on adapting "Civil War." The screenwriters were apparently looking in a much different place...a more "Commie Smashing" place!
In the 1950s, Stan Lee decided to try to give Captain America another shot, only this time, the title would see Captain America and Bucky fight Communists instead of Nazis. The titles of the comic proudly boasted how Cap was a "Commie smasher."
This was naturally forgotten about when Cap was brought back into the Marvel Age of Comics in "Avengers" #4 in 1964. In fact, according to the new continuity, Captain America never made it out of World War II period (while his old comic book series had a number of stories set post-World War II, as Steve Rogers became a teacher stateside following the war, with Bucky just sort of hanging around, as well, before Bucky was replaced by a female sidekick, Golden Girl).
When Steve Englehart began writing "Captain America" in the early 1970s, he began to play with the continuity a little bit. Englehart was well known at the time for his interest in weaving in old Marvel characters (like how he integrated Marvel's Archie Andrews-knock off, Patsy Walker, into the Marvel Universe).
So he then decided to explain away the "Commie Smasher" years by saying that the government created a replacement Captain America for that time period. That Cap was then put into suspended animation and when he emerged, he was none too pleased with modern society, as he was a racist jerk.
Ed Brubaker later brought that character, named William Burnside, into some great "Captain America" stories about taking advantage of people during the financial crisis of 2008-10.
Amazingly enough, it seems like this Cap was going to make it into "Captain America 3" at one point!
In a great interview with Don Kaye over at Den of Geek, "Captain America: Winter Soldier" screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who wrote "Captain America: Winter Soldier," as well) explained their plans for the third "Captain America" film soon after "Winter Soldier" came out.
Kaye: Are you going back to the comics for the next one and plan to adapt another story, while incorporating the many threads left open at the end of this one?
McFeely: Oh yeah, you can probably predict some of the threads we would like to pick up again that we’ve laid out there. And we always go back to the comics and dive back in and look at anything we’ve missed in the last few years that might be relevant.
Markus: We’ve definitely set out on a more realistic road in the Cap movies, you know. Even more grounded than in the other MCU movies. And so it kind of rules out Cap fighting the Dinosaur Man or something like that. There are some that aren’t gonna start and other ones that -- I mean there’s a couple we’re playing with right now that we really want to take elements from. Which we'll not reveal.
Kaye: Oh, come on.
Markus: All I’m saying is psychotic 1950s Cap.
Again, obviously all of those plans were tentative, but it's still very interesting to see that they initially DID plan on using the fake Cap in the third "Captain America" movie. That really would have made a lot of sense, as it would tie in with the general themes of government corruption that they started in "Winter Soldier." It would also be a nice way to tie Winter Soldier in, as he would have been in a similar situation as William Burnside.
The legend is...
Thanks to Joe G. for the suggestion and thanks to Don Kaye, Christopher Markusand Stephen McFeely for the information!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.