via therussobrothers

Leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, directors Joe and Anthony Russo hinted that Steve Rogers' arc would evoke a comics storyline in which Captain America loses faith in his country and ditches his name. This week, the Russos solidified that reference with the Instagram post shown above, naming Chris Evans as The Nomad. Though other characters have taken on the mantle since, Rogers first donned that identity in 1974's Captain America #180. 

The reference is interesting for a few reasons. On a purely surface level, Steve Rogers' look in what we've seen of Infinity War doesn't really resemble the comics Nomad. The black star and stripes he sports in shots of Wakanda instead evoke US Agent, a separate character whose real name is John F. Walker.


Starting out as a villain, US Agent initially embodied the negative aspects of blind patriotism. Walker would later go good and take up the mantle of Captain America for a couple of years before settling back into his old duds and continuing to fight the bad guys (like, you know, Nazi Steve Rogers).

You can see why Marvel Studios didn't go with US Agent on the name side of things -- it just doesn't represent where Steve Rogers is as a character at this point in the MCU. Following the events of Civil War, Rogers has to be seriously questioning his commitment to the country that has declared him a wanted criminal. You don't grow a big sad mountain man beard if you aren't having second thoughts about your place in life. The Nomad name makes complete sense here, since Rogers was in a similar headspace when he invented the identity for himself in the comics. The only problem? The Nomad looks like this:


This has gone down as one of the silliest costume redesigns in comic book history, but it's a little bit misunderstood. Whereas some outfit changeups are unambiguously terrible, the creators of the Nomad were aware that Rogers looks a bit ridiculous with a cowl, a cape and a plunging neckline straight out of the Grammy Awards circa 2000. In the lead-up to the reveal, we see Rogers sewing his new uniform, brainstorming gritty new names like Swashbuckler, Vagrant and Captain Blood. And in the Nomad's first fight, he trips on his cape and falls flat on his face, allowing the Serpent Squad to make their escape.

Captain America's New Name Has a Weird History in the Comics

It's safe to say that Cap's identity crisis in the MCU probably won't involve the type of pratfalls Edna Mode warned us about. The tone and spirit of the original Nomad might carry through to the movies, but Cap's disillusionment comes from a very different place in the comics. This was the 1970s, remember, and Richard Nixon had just resigned in disgrace. The climate was one of confusion and shame, and that was reflected even in the world of superheroes. 

See, leading up to the Nomad storyline, Cap had been chasing down the dastardly Committee, and eventually unmasks its leader in a climactic confrontation. We don't see the face of the leader, the shock on Steve's face tells us it's not an old prospector out to scare people away from an abandoned amusement park -- it's heavily implied to be Nixon himself. To cap it all off, un-Nixon kills himself in front of Cap moments after the reveal. 


That's... a lot to take in. In comparison, being hunted by your government for getting in a fistfight with Tony Stark over your friend's brainwashed crimes seems a little quaint.

When it comes to mixing and matching comics canon for its movies, Marvel Studios has made some pretty smart choices so far. It's tough to complain about their strategy of cherry picking names and elements of decades-old characters and storylines to fit them into comprehensible two-hour chunks, especially when the results have been so wildly successful. Really, the only downside here is that we won't get to see how Chris Evans miraculously pull off that Nomad suit.

EDIT: As it turns out, the poster seen on the Russo Bros Instagram was not in fact official, but a work of fan art from HellblazerArts.

A post shared by Tj Kiszka (@hellblazerarts) on

I was a little too hasty in tossing this poster up and referring to it as official. But the Russo Bros did rip this poster, crop the watermark and repost it without credit. Which is almost as crummy as being wrong on the internet.