Warning: SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War ahead
At 98 years old, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a bit overdue for retirement. Captain America has fought in the Second World War, defended New York City from an invading alien army, brought Hydra (and, by extension, S.H.I.E.L.D.) to its knees, and prevented an insane robot from wiping out all life on Earth. The final straw, however, was being forced to fight his own friends - in particular, Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) - in Captain America: Civil War.
By the end of that movie, Tony and Steve were in a bad place. Following the discovery that Steve's childhood friends Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) had been brainwashed into killing Tony's parents, the three had a violent brawl that ended with Steve beating Tony into submission, and Tony demanding that Steve leave behind the signature Captain America shield that was built by Howard Stark.
The meaning behind the gesture was a little unclear, especially after the movie's somewhat ambiguous final scene, in which Steve sends Tony a message with the assurance that the Avengers will always be there for him. However, Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War co-director Joe Russo has confirmed the worst in an interview with the Huffington Post, saying, "I think him dropping that shield is him letting go of that identity... [It’s] him admitting that certainly the identity of Captain America was in conflict with the very personal choice that he was making."
One of the common criticisms aimed at the otherwise widely-praised Civil War was the lack of really heavy-hitting consequences - especially after the trailers hinted that James "Rhodey" Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine (Don Cheadle) might be killed in the big brawl (he was badly injured, but was seen undergoing physical therapy with Stark tech at the end of the movie). With that in mind, the Marvel Cinematic Universe could stand to benefit from making Steve's relinquishment of the Captain America mantle a permanent consequence - though that might be tricky with an enemy like Thanos on the way. Perhaps Steve will just pick up the shield again ten minutes into Infinity War and leap right back into the fray.
If this change is a little less temporary, however, there are a number of interesting directions that Marvel could take with it. Both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) have taken up the name Captain America in the comics, and with his metal arm gone the Winter Soldier in particular could be looking for a new alter ego (once he's unfrozen, that is). However, after Anthony and Joe Russo's double-whammy of hit Captain America movies, Marvel may not want Evans out of the role just yet.
Captain America: Civil War will be released in Digital HD on September 2nd and on 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and Digital SD September 13.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Source: The Huffington Post