Captain America is about to turn 75 and Marvel will celebrate in a big way. The entertainment giant recently announced that ABC will air Captain America: 75 Heroic Years on Tuesday, January 19 at 8 p.m. to commemorate Cap’s Hitler-punching debut from Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.
The special befits the character’s iconic status and prominence in both today’s comics and Marvel’s films. Actors, writers, artists, and others who’ve been involved with Captain America will appear throughout the celebration, but that’s not the most intriguing part.
“An exclusive announcement from Marvel comics” is promised as part of the special. Previously, the publisher has turned to The View (for the female Thor) and The Colbert Report (for Sam Wilson as Captain America) to announce major shifts for its characters. With no hint to what’s coming, examining the possibilities could help illuminate Marvel’s plans for everyone’s favorite patriot.
5. Sam steps down
Sam’s used his role of Captain America to become a moral hero and role model. It’s not enough for him to just protect people; he wants to exemplify American ideals and be a more socially active hero, putting him at odds with both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Steve Rogers.
Sam will play a prominent role in the upcoming Civil War 2 as evidenced by his appearance in some preview art. However, the former Falcon might decide that the conflicts (especially those with his peers) caused by his title and convictions could force him to walk away after the war.
4. Sam dies
This is a bit of a cheat, but Sam might not be able to walk away after the next civil war. If narratives have precedence, Sam could die (or be presumed dead) at the end of his battle against other heroes like Steve was during the original Civil War.
Marvel’s never been shy about telling readers that a character is about to die, instead relying on propulsive narratives to maintain interest instead of a shocking climax.
This announcement would only be tangentially related to the character being celebrated in in ABC’s special, but it would be a fun surprise as well. Over in Spider-Gwen, Samantha Wilson the Captain American of Earth-65 was introduced, and she might be the best Sentinel of Liberty yet. Not only is she a fierce hero who was the only survivor of Project Rebirth, she also has her own Falcon, who’s a young male clone of herself.
The character is more than just a nod to Earth-616’s Sam; she’s a fully developed hero in her own right. While her appearance was mostly to fill out Spider-Gwen’s world, her adventures and story could be fun to explore on their own.
2. Another Captain enters the fray
If Sam won’t play ball with the government, S.H.I.E.L.D. may decide to get its own Cap. This wouldn’t be unprecedented either: Dark Reign was all about S.H.I.E.L.D. (as run by Norman Osborn) creating new versions of heroes (by giving titles to old villains).
A second, government-sponsored Captain America could help lead to Civil War 2, or be a consequence of it. In either case, having another person carrying a shield would be send shockwaves through Earth-616.
Steve Rogers retired from his heroic role because, well, he reached retirement age. Now the original Cap supports S.H.I.E.L.D. and other heroes as a grizzled mentor whose fairly set in his ways, almost stubbornly so.
It wouldn’t be much of a 75th anniversary if the original character was kept on the sidelines because of his old age. His television special may be the perfect place to tell the world that Steve will regain his youth and his shield before Captain America: Civil War hits theaters.