To many Marvel fans, Steve Rogers simply is Captain America. The man and the mantle are generally considered inseparable and that's largely because Rogers - although not perfect - embodied all the ideals that would go on to define Captain America as an entity.
He was brave, selfless, altruistic and compassionate, traits that not every character in Marvel's roster can always live up to. He illustrated time and again how he couldn't be corrupted, and his sheer presence alone inspired everyone around him to do better.
But of course, Rogers isn't the only person to have wielded the shield as a part of The Avengers or on their own. Either because he left the mantle behind or was indisposed for some other reason (death and being drained of the super soldier serum are pretty big inconveniences, FYI), characters both good and bad have stepped in to adopt the mantle of Captain America, and the fallout is usually pretty spectacular, as is currently being relayed in the latest MCU series on Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
In mainstream comics continuity nine separate characters have become Captain America both officially and unofficially. There are the more obvious names, but also the stories of some obscure characters who tried to step up and be the best star spangled man they could be - to varying degrees of success.
Not everyone can be Steve Rogers, and while some managed to live up to the OG Cap, others failed dramatically.
Here are the stories of EVERYONE who became Captain America.
9. Steve Rogers
Desperate to fight the Nazis but unable to enlist due to his numerous health conditions, Steve Rogers willingly volunteered for Project Rebirth, the super soldier program headed up by Professor Abraham Erskine in 1941. Erskine was able to transform Rogers using an experimental mix of the serum treated with vital rays, and from there, he began his training to become a true soldier.
Rogers fought throughout the Second World War, engaging in both the European and Pacific theatres alongside partner Bucky Barnes. Barnes and Rogers would go on to form The Invaders, a team of superheroes comprised of themselves, Namor, and the original android Human Torch, who fought the Nazi menace alongside the Allies and Sgt Nicholas J. Fury's Howling Commandos.
Sadly, towards the end of the conflict, Rogers and Bucky were assumed to have perished disarming a powerful rocket launched by Heinrich Zemo that was heading towards the British Isles. Rogers entered suspended animation, and was later thawed out by the Avengers following a battle with Namor years later.
As a man out of time, Rogers once again assumed the mantle of Captain America and became one of the first heroes of the Marvel Age, leading the Avengers and fighting villains old and new.
But it wasn't smooth sailing. Rogers abandoned the Cap identity after the events of the original Secret Empire, adopting the name Nomad after growing disillusioned with the US government, and repeated the same process years later, only this time naming himself The Captain.
In more recent years, Cap fought in the superhero Civil War, was assassinated by the Red Skull, returned after being displaced through time, allowed his best friend to retain the Captain America mantle, assumed it once again once said friend almost died, was rapidly aged after having the super soldier serum drained from him, regained his youth, became a secret agent of Hydra thanks to some cosmic nonsense (which... yikes doesn't cut it), and is now busy reclaiming his identity as Captain America in a stellar run from Ta-Nehisi Coates.