Captain America: Every Actor to Play the Character in Live-Action, Ranked Movie
He can do this all day, but who does it best? Here are the best live-action portrayal’s of Captain America in movies and television.
Captain America has been an American pop culture icon since 1941, when he was introduced in Captain America Comics #1 from then Timely Comics. It was Joe Simon who conceived the character and the brilliant artwork of Jack Kirby that brought him to life. Before joining the adventures of The Avengers in the ’60s, Cap was a lauded fighter of the Axis powers throughout World War II and Russia into the ’50s.
Eventually taking on the mantle of the leader in the avenging super group in the Marvel Comics Universe, Captain America would go on to have hundreds of adventures and be a part of some of the most iconic story arcs in comic book history. Even developing his own moral philosophy lauded by many.
Update January 13th, 2023: This article has been updated with more details regarding each of the actors to play Captain America as well as new details regarding the character’s future appearances in Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts.
There have been screen versions of Cap dating almost as far back as the character itself, with the first one coming in 1944. Before Captain America could fulfill his real potential on the big screen, two other versions of the character debuted in 1979 and 1990. However, it was the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 and the subsequent boom in superhero movie popularity that gave us our most recent portrayals of Captain America. Each actor has brought something new and different to the classic character, but which one is the best Star Spangled Man With the Plan?
The 1979 made-for-TV movie, simply titled Captain America, is an extremely loose adaptation of the character. Reb Brown plays the titular character of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. In this adaptation, Rogers is the son of a 1940s war hero who earned the nickname “Captain America” in WW2. This version of Steve Rogers diverts away from his military background and instead makes him an artist living out of the back of his conversion van who receives a serum after being critically injured that gives him the super strength of the traditional Captain America.
Brown’s performance as Cap in this version is an adequate one for the time period it came out in, as outside of Richard Donner’s Superman, superhero movies were either nonexistent or strayed incredibly far from the source material. In terms of Marvel adaptations in the 1970s, it was certainly nowhere near the great superhero shows of the 20th century like The Incredible Hulk or The Amazing Spider-Man, but closer to the made-for-TV Doctor Strange movie. Brown reprised his role in a sequel released the same year titled Captain America II: Death Too Soon.
A lot of what was said for Reb Brown can also be said about Matt Salinger’s portrayal of Captain America in the 1990 version of the same name. Where Salinger edges out Brown, though, is in the fact that this movie is closer to the comic roots of Steve Rogers’ Captain America although not by much more. This includes a much more accurate backstory, and the appearance of Cap’s arch nemesis Red Skull.
While the film is a slight improvement over the 1979 made-for-TV movie, 1990’s Captain America was another early example alongside Howard the Duck, 1989’s The Punisher, and 1994’s Roger Corman Fantastic Four of filmmakers not quite getting how to adapt Marvel Comics character. This is encapsulated in this film when Captain America steals somebodies car and leaves them on the side of the road, as this is not the ideal hero that Marvel Comics fans know.
The 1944 film serial and the first screen version of the character is steeped in all sorts of cinema history. Produced and released by Republic Pictures, known for its serialized films, Captain America was the first theatrical release connected to a Marvel character, It was also the most expensive serial ever produced by Republic Pictures.
Broken into 15 chapters, this version starred Dick Purcell as the titular hero. Dick Purcell does not play the Steve Rogers version of the character but instead, Captain America is a man named Grant Gardner who is now imagined as a district attorney. Purcell gives as good of a performance for a 1940s serial as you will ever see and given the history surrounding the film, is enough to give him the 4th spot on this list. Sadly the performance might have cost Purcell his life as just weeks after filming was complete the actor collapsed in a Los Angeles locker room with some suspecting playing Captain America was too much of a strain on the actor’s heart.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced us to not one, but two new Captain Americas. The first and the darker of the two is Wyatt Russell as John Walker who is given the mantle of Captain America by the United States government. This version of Captain America truly takes Cap to the darkest iteration fans have seen. Having auditioned for the first film, Captain America: The First Avenger, prior to the casting of Chris Evans, Russell always wondered what it would be like to play Cap, and he eventually got his opportunity.
At the beginning of the Disney + series, it is stated that Steve Rogers is gone, where you might ask? Well, that is not really addressed and the last we saw of Steve, he was an old man passing down the mantle to his friend Sam Wilson. It is Sam, out of respect for Steve, who turns over Cap’s shield to the United States government to be put on display for all to see.
However, despite Sam’s good intentions, the government has other plans in mind as they introduce Wyatt Russell’s character, John Walker, as the new Captain America shield and all. Walker is a veteran suffering from PTSD and while working as the new Captain, Walker gets his hands on a vial of super-soldier serum and decides to ingest it to improve his fighting and strength. Walker, now juiced up with the serum, proceeds to beat a man to death with the famous shield following the death of his friends at the hands of a different person in what is one of the most horrific death scenes in the MCU. The image of Walker standing above the man he killed, holding a blood-drenched shield is certainly a dark moment in the franchise and one audience had a visceral reaction to.
This is the event that leads to Walker being stripped of the Captain America moniker, but is later approached by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine to be US Agent, who will play a major role in the upcoming Thunderbolts film. Russell’s portrayal of John Walker is a complex one, a man who wants to do the right thing but whose own personal insecurities get in the way of him truly living up to the promise of being Captain America.
The newest actor to dawn the Stars and Stripes is Anthony Mackie in the role of Sam Wilson. Fans have gotten to know and love Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, as he fought alongside Cap and the other Avengers dating back to 2014 in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam made himself known as a worthy Captain America from his earliest days, volunteering at the VA hospital and helping other vets cope with their trauma. Like Steve Rogers, he is a good man who wants to do the right thing.
Audiences got their first glimpse at Sam taking over Steve Rogers’ mantle in the final episode of the Disney+ superhero series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier. With a slick new suit and shield courtesy of his running mate Bucky Barnes and some Vibranium from Wakanda, the small sample size we get of Mackie as Captain America is enough to keep any fan excited as we move toward Captain America: New World Order. The Marvel Universe needs a Captain America, and Mackie’s Sam Wilson has stepped up to the role and will be ready to lead a new team of Avengers against the threat of Kang the Conqueror in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
Come on now, was there ever any doubt about who would end up in the number one spot? Chris Evans took on the role of Steve Rogers in the 2011 film, Captain America: The First Avenger, and subsequently starred in six additional movies while having cameos in two others. This means that Chris Evans appeared as Captain America in Marvel projects every year from 2011 to 2019.
While Evans had great movies before Captain America, it is the role that has defined him for a generation. There is not one second throughout his time playing the character, that fans are not entirely convinced that Chris Evans simply isCaptain America, as he plays the part to perfection. Fans were able to take an eight-year journey with Chris Evans’ Captain America, leading up to his farewell in Avengers: Endgame and the subsequent passing of the role to Anthony Mackie.
Evans’ depiction of Captain America made the character more beloved than he has ever been at any point in his entire history, known and appreciated the world over even in countries that may not have the highest opinions about the actual America. When the character called for comedy and a light-hearted touch, Evans delivered. When it called for seriousness, pain, and heartache, he made us feel what the Cap was feeling. Simply put, we could watch Chris Evans do this all day.
Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures Spider-Man films starring Tom Holland feature more Spider-Man costumes than Spider-Man has ever had before. Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man films focus on a single costume while Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feature only two Spider-Man costumes (aside from an early homemade suit). Holland’s three Spider-Man films, on the other hand, have Peter Parker wearing eight.
The latest MCU film Spider-Man: No Way Home introduces the Black & Gold and Integrated suits. With so many costumes part of Spider-Man’s journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, each one brings a unique feel and look to Spider-Man. Here are all of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man suits, ranked.
Updated August 22, 2022: If you love Spider-Man’s fantastic suits, you’ll be happy to know we’ve updated this article with additional content surrounding both the character and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Before Peter Parker meets Tony Stark, he wears a homemade costume he designed himself. The homemade suit revealed in Captain America: Civil War and used in Spider-Man: Homecoming is a goofy-looking low-budget design that reflects Spider-Man’s humble origins. With that being said, the suit is very well-made considering the fact that a young high-schooler quickly designs the suit on a budget.
The suit is an important visual representation that Spider-Man does not need the resources of Iron Man to be a superhero. A cheap hoodie and goggles, however, do not make for the most visually appealing Spider-Man costume, which is why the homemade suit ranks at the bottom of the list.
Teased at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming and later used by Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the Iron Spider is featured in some of the most iconic moments of the Infinity Saga. The Iron Spider armor is the second suit given to Parker by Stark when recognizing Spider-Man as an Avenger. In-universe, the high-tech armor is incredibly efficient and advanced. However, aesthetically speaking, it is not the suit that best captures the core spirit of Spider-Man.
Iron Spider is too significant of a departure when Peter is a poor student that creates a suit for himself. Fans disapproved of the Stark suit for being too high-tech, but the Iron Spider takes it another step further. Holland does not wear a costume for the Iron Spider suit; instead, it is entirely CGI. The suit may look decent, but is too over-designed and does not use color as effectively as Holland’s other Spider-Man suits.