Captain America’s Complete MCU Timeline Explained

Sam Wilson Steve Rogers Captain America MCU

Captain America has been one of the central characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Phase 1, with the hero mantle having one of the more expansive timelines in the franchise. Captain America was first introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger as the fifth MCU film and the penultimate film of Phase 1 before The Avengers. Since then, Captain America has been an MCU staple and spanned four Phases and two different characters.

Because of this, Captain America’s timeline is one of the more complicated histories in the MCU. One of the core reasons for this is the element of time travel introduced in Avengers: Endgame, as well as the passing of the mantle from Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson. That said, here is the definitive Captain America timeline for the MCU, from his first appearances to the most recent inclusions of America’s Star Spangled Man.

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Steve Rogers’ Early Life – 1918-1936

Skinny Steve Rogers Wearing His Army Uniform And Helmet In Captain America: The First Avenger

The first iteration of Captain America in the MCU was Steve Rogers. Rogers was born in 1918 to Sarah and Joseph Rogers in New York City. Steve’s father was killed in World War One before his birth, and the New York native grew up in Hell’s Kitchen with his mother. Eventually, Steve met James Buchanan Barnes, also known as Bucky, and the two quickly became best friends. In 1936, Rogers’ mother died of Tuberculosis, which brought Steve and Bucky closer together in the aftermath.

Steve Rogers Meets Abraham Erskine & Begins Project Rebirth – 1943

Dr Erskine in Captain America The First Avenger

After the outbreak of World War Two, Steve unsuccessfully attempted to enlist in the United States Army due to his multiple health issues. When attending the Stark Expo in 1943, Steve – before becoming The First Avenger – attempts again to enlist before being introduced to Abraham Erskine. Erskine briefly interviewed Rogers, before enlisting him in the United States Army as part of Project Rebirth. Steve then began training among other Project Rebirth candidates at Camp Lehigh, being introduced to Peggy Carter in the process.

Steve Rogers Becomes Captain America – 1943

Captain America Chris Evans Skinny Steve Transformation SR

Eventually, Rogers was picked as the cadet to undergo Project Rebirth due to his moral center, with Erskine believing that the Super Soldier Serum takes good traits and makes them great. Rogers being simply a good man is what allowed him to be picked, and he traveled to New York City to undergo the transformation. With help from Howard Stark, Erskine injected Rogers with the Super Soldier Serum, a staple of the MCU, allowing him to physically become Captain America. After Erskine was killed, Rogers chased the assassin on foot and learned that HYDRA, the Nazi’s rogue science division, was responsible.

Captain America Saves Bucky Barnes From Hydra & Meets Red Skull – 1943

Red Skull and Captain America

After a stint with the USO due to the government’s hesitance to let Rogers on the front line (as Erskine’s death meant no more Serum could be produced), Rogers learned from Peggy Carter that Bucky Barnes’ unit was captured by HYDRA. Disobeying direct orders, Rogers, with help from Stark and Carter, traveled by air to the HYDRA base and liberated the captured unit including his best friend. While doing so, Rogers was confronted by the Red Skull, the recipient of Erskine’s first Super Soldier Serum. After a brief standoff, Red Skull escaped and Rogers, alongside Barnes and the rest of the latter’s unit, returned to the United States Army camp.

Related: How Powerful Sam Wilson Will Be As Captain America

Zola Is Captured & Bucky Presumably Dies – 1944

A man is falling through the air off a train

After Captain America formed the Howling Commandos, received his iconic shield, and went to war with HYDRA for over a year, Steve and his squad were tasked with capturing Arnim Zola, HYDRA’s top scientist. During the mission, in which the Commandos boarded a speeding train, Zola was captured and given to the US Army. However, before the end of the mission, Bucky was blown off the train and, despite Rogers’ best efforts to save him, fell into a ravine and was presumed dead.

The Attack On HYDRA HQ & Captain America Is Frozen – 1945

Captain America Found In Ice

After mourning Bucky, Rogers vowed to defeat the Red Skull and HYDRA, before mounting an attack on HYDRA’s HQ alongside the Howling Commandos. After fighting his way through HYDRA’s defenses and engaging the Red Skull, Captain America eventually boarded the Valkyrie, an aircraft filled with bombs that will demolish the western world. After confronting Red Skull once more, who disappeared due to coming into direct contact with the Tesseract, Rogers crashed the Valkyrie into the Arctic, seemingly sacrificing himself.

Captain America Is Thawed Out – 2011

Captain America New York

Decades later, the Valkyrie and Captain America’s frozen body were found by the modern-day incarnation of SHIELD. In 2011, Rogers was thawed out and kept in a SHIELD facility emulating 1945 to spare Rogers the shock of waking up almost 70 years later. However, Rogers escaped the compound and found himself in New York City in 2011, only to be greeted by Nick Fury who alerted him to the reality of the situation. Steve then sadly recounted he had a date with Peggy Carter, who he presumed to be long dead.

Captain America Joins The Avengers – 2012

The original MCU Avengers

Captain America was then recruited by Nick Fury as part of his Avengers dream, the Avengers Initiative. After Loki stole the Tesseract from SHIELD, Rogers was recruited due to his prior knowledge of the Tesseract’s powers. Rogers then met his team members; Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. After a series of events, and an unstable team relationship, Agent Coulson of SHIELD was killed. Due to his belief in the Avengers, Captain America truly formed the team for the first time and led it to war with Loki and the Chitauri. Eventually, Loki was defeated and the Chitauri invasion of Earth was repelled thanks to the Avengers’ efforts.

Related: The Avengers 2012 Already Explained Thor’s Biggest Avenger Problem

Steve Rogers Meets Sam Wilson – 2014

Steve Rogers Meets Sam Wilson Winter Soldier

Two years after the events of 2012’s The Avengers, Captain America began living in Washington D.C. and working as one of SHIELD’s top agents. During a morning run, Steve met Sam Wilson, a fellow US Army veteran, and quickly befriended him due to their mutual experiences with war. Rogers and Sam bonded over the respective losses of their close friends, Rogers’ best friend Bucky and Sam’s wingman Riley. Sometime between 2012 and 2014, Rogers also reunited with Peggy Carter, who was still alive in a care home in 2014.

Steve Finds Out Bucky & HYDRA Are Alive – 2014

Bucky as the Winter Soldier remembering who he once was in Captain America The Winter Soldier (2014)

Shortly after befriending Sam Wilson, Rogers, Black Widow, and Wilson were embroiled in a conspiracy that revealed HYDRA had slowly been rebuilding itself under the guise of SHIELD since World War Two. After the supposed death of Nick Fury, Rogers attempted to find out more information about HYDRA from Jasper Sitwell, who was killed by an assassin known only as the Winter Soldier, the same assailant of Nick Fury. After a confrontation atop a highway, Rogers unmasked the Winter Soldier and found him to be his old friend, Bucky Barnes, who was working as HYDRA’s top assassin.

Captain America Exposes HYDRA & SHIELD – 2014/2015

Cap and Pierce meet in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Shortly after finding out Bucky’s identity, Captain America, Sam Wilson/the Falcon, and Black Widow vowed to expose HYDRA’s secret foundation of SHIELD with the help of Nick Fury, revealed to have faked his death, and Maria Hill. After doing so, Rogers is confronted by Bucky, who was saved from his fall by HYDRA and brainwashed to become a HYDRA assassin. After a brief fight, Rogers managed to break through Bucky’s mind control by reminding him of their past friendship. Bucky then saved Rogers from drowning, before departing to locations unknown, leaving Rogers and Wilson to set out and find him.

The Age Of Ultron – 2015

Captain America in Age of Ultron

After spending the better part of a year taking down HYDRA with the Avengers before Age of Ultron, Rogers and Wilson’s search for Bucky hit a dead end. After this, unbeknownst to Steve, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner created the AI Ultron, who vowed to wipe out humanity after viewing the human race as the defining reason why peace cannot be possible on Earth. The Avengers once again formed to deal with Ultron, who attempted to destroy Earth by way of a giant meteorite. Captain America led the Avengers against Ultron, defeating him and forming the New Avengers consisting of himself, Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and War Machine.

Related: Age Of Ultron Broke The Infinity Saga’s Thor & Loki Trend

The Sokovia Accords & The Civil War – 2016

Captain America Faces Iron Man In Civil War

After leading the New Avengers for a year, Rogers’ team was blamed for multiple counts of superhero-based collateral damage over the years. This led to the foundation of the Sokovia Accords – now repealed in the MCU – where multiple United Nations countries insisted the Avengers to submit to be regulated by a governing body. This split the Avengers, with half vowing to sign the Accords led by Tony Stark, and the others stating the Accords were a violation of their rights, led by Captain America. This, alongside the reveal that the Winter Soldier was the one who killed Tony Stark’s parents, led to a huge fight that splintered the Avengers completely.

The Arrival Of Thanos & Battle Of Wakanda – 2018

Black Panther Captain America at the Battle of Wakanda

In the aftermath, Steve Rogers, alongside the heroes who supported him during the Civil War, became outlaws thanks to the Accords. The heroes then spent two years on the run, moving from country to country and avoiding capture by General Thunderbolt Ross. In 2018, the titan Thanos began his attack on the universe in order to obtain the Infinity Stones and wipe 50% of the universe’s population from existence. This brought him into direct confrontation with Avengers such as Vision and Doctor Strange, resulting in Captain America and his team reemerging to fight Thanos.

This led Captain America and his allies to Wakanda, where Bucky Barnes had been healed of his mind control with the help of Black Panther and Shuri after the events of Civil War. Other Avengers like Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy fought Thanos on Titan, while Captain America and Black Panther led the rest of the Avengers against Thanos’ army intent on capturing Vision. Eventually, Thanos obtained the Time Stone from Doctor Strange before traveling to Wakanda and obtaining Vision’s Mind Stone despite Rogers’ and the remaining Avengers’ best efforts.

The Blip – 2018-2023

Thanos snaps his fingers in Avengers Infinity War

After obtaining all Infinity Stones, Thanos carried out the Blip, snapping his fingers wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and erasing half of all life from the universe. Captain America and the other original Avengers were among the survivors, with the likes of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes being erased, much to Rogers’ heartbreak. In the immediate aftermath of the Blip, Rogers and the surviving Avengers traveled to Eden to confront Thanos and make him bring everyone back. Thanos, however, had destroyed the Stones and Thor decapitated him in his rage. The Avengers, feeling defeated, then spent five years living in the world after the Blip.

Related: Falcon & Winter Soldier Is Telling The Post-Blip Story Endgame Couldn’t

Captain America Plans The Time Heist – 2023

Avengers Endgame team Time Heist

At some point during the Blip, Captain America began working as a counselor for people affected by Thanos’ actions. Unbeknownst to Steve and the Avengers, however, Ant-Man was in the Quantum Realm during the Blip and survived. After Scott’s release, the Avengers began plotting a heist to use the Quantum Realm to travel back in time and retrieve the Infinity Stones in order to bring everyone back. At first, Tony Stark opposed the idea due to the dangers of losing the family he had built during the Blip, before eventually being driven to help because of the loss of Spider-Man.

Captain America Leads The Battle Of Earth – 2023

Captain America Steve Rogers Mjolnir Avengers Endgame

After the Time Heist proved successful, and the Hulk snapped everyone back to 2023, Captain America led the Avengers and their massive army against Thanos (from another timeline) in the Battle of Earth. With the help of his allies accumulated across Captain America’s time in the MCU, the Avengers defeat Thanos’ army. Eventually, Iron Man wielded the Infinity Gauntlet and snapped Thanos and his army out of existence, which led to his death due to the immense power of the Infinity Stones.

Steve Rogers Returns To Peggy Carter – 1949 (Second Timeline)

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Avengers: Endgame

In the aftermath of the Battle of Earth, Steve Rogers was chosen to travel back in time and return the Infinity Stones to their point in time. After doing so, Captain America chose to retire from his long life of fighting and return to 1949 in order to live in peace with Peggy Carter. After traveling back and reuniting with Peggy, Rogers lived his life in peace up until 2023 and returned to his original timeline as an old man.

Old Steve Rogers Gives The Shield To Sam Wilson – 2023

Sam wilson captain america Falcon and the winter soldier Steve Rogers future

Upon returning to his original timeline, old Steve Rogers was greeted by Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, for whom only a matter of moments had passed. Steve, with the Captain America shield from the alternate timeline in tow, told Wilson that he was passing the mantle on to someone else. After receiving approval from Bucky, Rogers gave the shield to Wilson as he believed he held the values of Captain America.

Related: Thunderbolts & Captain America 4 Are More Closely Tied Than Anyone Thought

Sam Wilson Becomes Captain America – 2024

Sam Wilson first entry as Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

After a period of indecisiveness, Wilson donated the shield to the Smithsonian museum as he did not believe himself able to uphold Rogers’ legacy. This greatly angered Bucky, who chastised Wilson for not trusting Rogers in his choice as the next Captain America. After the shield was then given to John Walker, who abused the Captain America mantle, Wilson and Barnes took the shield back and the former accepted his role as the next Captain America. Wilson is expected to play a big part in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and continue the legacy of Captain America into Phase 5 and beyond.

Next: Captain America 4: Every MCU Character Expected To Appear

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Author: Jack Cook