Captain America isn't going to be in the MCU much longer. With Chris Evans' contract up after Avengers: Endgame and him reportedly not having any more roles in Marvel movies, Evans will be moving on to bigger and better things. Without him, there's no reason to keep Captain America around. This could naturally culminate in the character sacrificing his life to restore the universe or riding off into the sunset to live the life he lost back in World War II. Whatever the reason, there's going to be a star-shaped hole in the Avengers' roster going forward.
While Steve Rogers might be out of the MCU, that doesn't mean Captain America has to go away too. In the comics, there have been a few characters that took up the mantle in Steve's absence, two of which already exist in the MCU: Falcon and Bucky. Falcon was Steve's new friend who joined the team in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Using his military training, special wings, and Redwing drone, he provides air support for the Avengers team while having the tech to give widespread assistance. Bucky, on the other hand, has been Steve's best friend since Captain America: The First Avenger. After being brainwashed by HYDRA, he was turned into the Winter Soldier and saved by the scientists in Wakanda.
Of those two, who deserves to become the next Captain America? Here we delve into 10 reasons why it should be Falcon, 10 reasons why it should be Bucky, and 1 reason why neither deserves it.
21 FALCON — LOYAL
Falcon has a great sense of unfailing loyalty to Captain America. While he seemed to be in his retirement days at the start of The Winter Soldier, that changed when Cap and Black Widow asked him for help. Moving forward to Captain America: Civil War, Falcon was always at Steve's side despite how much trouble it got him in. He even worked together to fight off Tony Stark and his team of Avengers. Wherever Steve went, we would surely find Falcon not far behind. This sort of loyalty would make Falcon an excellent candidate to wear the star-spangled suit and shield.
20 BUCKY — STEVE'S BEST FRIEND
From the moment we meet Bucky in the MCU, we understand that he is and always will be Steve Rogers' best friend. He was the only living character in the MCU to have known Steve before the super soldier serum and has been with him until the end of the line. Even after all the warping from HYDRA, the only reason Bucky managed to snap out of it was through their friendship. This friendship ended up becoming the crux of Captain America: Civil War, where the two of them were at each other's sides until the very end. There is nothing Bucky wouldn't do for Steve.
19 FALCON — BETTER EQUIPMENT
If there's one advantage Falcon has over Bucky, it's in his equipment. Having a set of personal wings, Falcon can take to the skies and maneuver around his foes. That said, he has more toys in his arsenal than just those. His wings are strong enough to provide a shield, and he has missiles and guns that he can activate remotely. He even has a drone called Redwing that can take out foes with the touch of a button. Couple that with his twin machine guns, and Falcon becomes a terror in the skies. He even dealt some serious damage to the Outriders in Avengers: Infinity War.
18 BUCKY — SUPER SOLDIER
Bucky was experimented on by HYDRA to become a super soldier just like Cap, only for evil purposes. HYDRA succeeded in their plans, turning Steve's best friend into a weapon of their own making. He was every bit as powerful and skilled as Cap, complete with military training, super strength, and even super speed. In Captain America: Civil War, he was involved in a car chase where he was running faster than the cars. The Winter Soldier proved that his strength was on par with Cap as well, considering he was able to catch the shield and keep Steve on his toes the whole time.
17 FALCON — TRAINED WITH MODERN TECH
Falcon is much younger than Bucky, which gives him a knowledge advantage. When he joined the military, he was trained with all sorts of modern tech, which was further enhanced with the new toys he got after joining the Avengers. He knows how to use current weapons and utilizes them well in battle. Bucky can't quite say the same thing. He often relies on standard guns and hand-to-hand combat, which is what he'd be used to considering he is a World War II veteran. Falcon is already with the times, where Bucky taking Steve's mantle would require more training with newer equipment.
16 BUCKY — FAMILIAR WITH ESPIONAGE
While Bucky's time as the Winter Soldier was destructive, it did help him become one of the fiercest fighters in the MCU. He is already familiar with espionage and going on secret missions, something that Captain America had to do after being labeled a fugitive. Already knowing how to go on secret missions and act outside the law, Bucky would be a prime candidate to take his best friend's mantle. We already know that he won't stand for people trying to take advantage of him or try to use him for their own personal gain. Bucky just knows how to do a proper secret mission.
15 FALCON — SERVED AS AN AVENGER
Captain America was the Avenger who was least with the times. He had to reorient himself after being frozen for several decades. He ended up as the leader of the team, though, and a darn good one at that. There have been a few new characters to join the team over the years, one of which was Falcon. Falcon was a dedicated member of the team who refined his skills enough to go on all sorts of missions. He would later leave the country with Cap at the end of Civil War. While Bucky has helped Captain America and the Avengers on certain occasions, he never became an official member of the team.
14 BUCKY — FOUGHT HYDRA BEFORE
If there's one thing that we know for sure, it's that HYDRA never seems to go away. Cut off one head and two more shall take its place. With Captain America, HYDRA has been a constant in the comics, which makes us think that it could come back in the MCU as well. In this sense, Bucky would be well-prepared for the job. He has fought HYDRA before, but he is also familiar enough with their practices and plans that he would be an extreme asset to fight them once more as the new Captain America. His knowledge would be priceless and his experience even more so.
13 FALCON — KNOWS HOW TO LEAD
Falcon has always been a side character when it comes to the Avengers, but he has proven that he knows how to lead. In The Winter Soldier, he was the one primarily working with other veterans to help them cope with adjusting back to life as a civilian. In Civil War, he called a lot of the shots during the airport battle, helping make the ultimate decision that only he and Bucky would be the ones to make it out of that fight. Bucky, in turn, seems a bit reluctant to lead. This is likely a result of his experience as a weapon for HYDRA, but Bucky is simply a guy who looks after himself and fights only when asked.
12 BUCKY — CURED OF HIS MIND CONTROL
Most of Bucky's arc in the MCU revolved around his brainwashing by HYDRA. Mind controlled as the Winter Soldier, he became a deadly weapon who hurt tons of people over the years. Things started to change after The Winter Soldier, however. Bucky got away from HYDRA and began to make a life of his own, but the mind control effects still left an impact on him. It wasn't until Black Panther that he was finally cured of it for real. Now that Bucky is free of his chains, he can make his own choices and live the life that he wants to.
11 FALCON — FLIGHT
It's important that whoever is taking the mantle of Captain America be strong and bring their own powers to the table. Falcon brings flight to the table with the help of his impressive set of wings. Flight is something that Steve Rogers simply doesn't have, which would go a long way to making Falcon more visually and mechanically distinct from the Cap that would hypothetically have served before him. It would be a bit harder to distinguish Bucky and Steve when compared to Falcon and Steve. Flight is also an extremely useful power in battle that might make a new Cap more capable than the old one.
10 BUCKY — VET
One of the most inspiring attributes of Captain America is that he is a World War II veteran and came to the present to serve a modern country. His ideals from that time were what motivated him to strike out on his own and leave the West behind. If Falcon were Captain America, the World War II angle would be lost, and with it, the iconicity of Captain America. Bucky, on the other hand, would be a more thematic choice to replace Steve. He is from World War II as well and served alongside Steve. He'd keep the inspiration alive just like his best friend.
9 FALCON — CONQUERED HIS DEMONS
While Bucky might be free from his mind control, it does seem that it will have its effects on him for the rest of his life. It's not the kind of thing that one just gets over. Falcon similarly struggled with his own problems, but they related to PTSD more than anything else. However, we see in The Winter Soldier that he found a way to work through those problems and help others do the same. With him serving as Captain America, it would be clear that none of his own mental workings would get in the way of the mission. He doesn't have those issues that block him.
8 BUCKY — BETTER FIGHTER
Falcon might have the advantage of tech, wings, and a drone, but Bucky has the advantage of fighting talent alone. Partially due to his training in World War II and partially due to his time as the Winter Soldier, Bucky has learned how to fight extremely well. He could easily take on Black Widow, nearly subdued Steve Rogers once and for all, and could go toe to toe with the rest of the Avengers. Falcon could have his tech ripped away and be much less potent on a mission. Bucky, on the other hand, would thrive in those tough spots and be able to fight his way out.
7 FALCON — FOUGHT UNDER CAP'S ORDERS
Bucky and Falcon have both fought under Captain America's orders, but we only saw Bucky do it a handful of times, whereas Falcon seemed to do it for about three films, implying that he had done it for much longer. Having an understanding of how Steve thinks and operates, Falcon would theoretically have a better idea of how to lead the Avengers and give orders if he were made the new Captain America. Sure, Bucky might've worked with Steve in World War II, but Falcon went as far as to become a secret Avenger for Cap while Bucky was being fixed by the people in Wakanda.
6 BUCKY — VIBRANIUM ARM
Bucky's metal arm was is of his greatest tools, and it got even better in Avengers: Infinity War when he was given a vibranium arm by Black Panther. With this new vibranium arm, Bucky can essentially test the limits of his skills. He doesn't need to worry about damaging his hand in battle due it being made out of the strongest substance on Earth. It's also difficult to combat a vibranium arm. Bucky was able to take on Tony Stark, Agent 13, T'Challa, and Black Widow while he only had a metal arm. Imagine what he could do with a vibranium arm.
5 FALCON- ALWAYS READY TO FIGHT
Falcon's days in the military might be over, but that doesn't mean his fighting spirit left him for good. On the contrary, Falcon always seems ready for a battle, even if the odds are against him. When duty calls (or in many cases, Captain America), he grabs his wings and is ready to get to work. When Steve decided to go against the Accords, Falcon simply asked him how he could help. When HYDRA was threatening the world, Falcon suggested they steal his old equipment back. When we see Falcon, he is always fighting and never backs down, which is exactly what Steve trained him to do.
4 BUCKY — KNOWS WHAT STEVE STOOD FOR
Bucky has a serious advantage being Steve Rogers' best friend. Knowing him for essentially his entire life, Bucky has always known what Steve stood for. He's also seen that in action, based on his unwillingness to fight in The Winter Soldier and his readiness to go against half of the Avengers in Civil War just for their friendship. If Bucky were to become the next Captain America, he would have a clear idea of what his best friend stood for and what he would want in a successor. He would be careful to honor Steve's legacy where Falcon might not appreciate that as much.
3 FALCON — DIDN'T SIGN THE ACCORDS
The Sokovia Accords were the papers that tore the Avengers apart. Captain America refused to sign them, which spawned all sorts of legal trouble for him and those who supported him. As expected, Falcon didn't sign the Accords as well, which was a big thing considering what everyone on Cap's team was facing. Bucky never got the chance to sign or not sign the Accords because he was a wanted criminal at the time. We're sure he perhaps would've done the same, but Falcon's presence on the Avengers team forced him to make hard decisions that Bucky didn't get to make, solidifying a bond between him and Steve.
2 BUCKY — EXCELLENT SHOT
If there's one thing that Falcon and Bucky share, it's a love of firearms. Both of them are constantly seen using guns to get ahead in battle, which makes them each formidable fighters. However, Bucky has had decades of training with all sorts of weapons. He can take someone out without leaving a trace. He lands just about every shot he fires and can then finish the job with his bare hands if necessary. While Falcon isn't a bad shot, his shots are more erratic. There's a precision with Bucky that makes him a much more potent threat with a weapon than Falcon.
1 NEITHER DESERVES IT — THERE CAN NEVER BE A REPLACEMENT
Steve Rogers is Captain America. His journey from a skinny kid from Brooklyn to a super soldier is what defined him. He went on to lead a modern team of heroes, became disillusioned with his country, and continued to fight the good fight from outside the law. His sense of duty and determination make him an imposing threat but also a noble hero. Regardless of how close he was to Bucky or Falcon, they will never replace him. They can't. Steve Rogers, in the hearts of minds of most people, is the only real Captain America. It should probably stay that way.