Ever since Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) dropped his iconic shield in the closing minutes of Captain America: Civil War, there have been rumors, fueled primarily by fan speculation, that he will assume the Nomad identity in Avengers: Infinity War. An autographed shield at ACE Comic Con this past weekend is now being treated as quasi-confirmation, but it shouldn’t be. Co-director Joe Russo debunked the Nomad rumors three months ago.
Nomad is an alternate superhero identity Steve Rogers assumed after stepping away from (before ultimately returning to) his role as Captain America in Marvel Comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe iteration of Rogers also appears to be shedding his Cap identity. Besides dropping the shield, he’s grown a beard, and removed the star from his Cap costume, as fans noticed when the first Infinity War footage was shown at D23 Expo last July.
If he isn’t Cap, the assumption is that Rogers must be Nomad. The dots are easy enough to connect, which is why the rumors and speculation have persisted. Over the weekend, a fan had her Captain America shield signed by Chris Evans and the MCU’s Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) at ACE Comic Con in Arizona. The inscriptions below their autographs seem to confirm the Nomad rumors, but they don’t.
Joe Russo, who is directing Avengers: Infinity War with his brother, Anthony, put this rumor to rest back in October. Joe Russo was a guest on ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football podcast and addressed the Nomad rumor while discussing the larger arc for Steve Rogers that began in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (The Russos’ first Cap film) and continues into the next two Avengers movies.
“Our approach to [Steve Rogers] was to deconstruct him, to take him in a different direction. Obviously you can’t deal with a character called Captain America without dealing with the thematics behind that, so we wanted a relevancy to it and we wanted to put him in a position where he was questioning the chain of command.
“You’ll see into these Avenger films, he’s is on a very specific journey as a character. Some people have suspected that he may be Nomad heading into Avengers 3 and I wouldn’t say that he is exactly Nomad, but he is the spirit of that character.“
There you have it. The MCU’s Steve Rogers may have Nomad’s spirit informing his character arc, but he isn’t going to assume a new superhero identity. That is the right call, as rebranding Steve Rogers with a new superhero name only to have him inevitably revert back to being called Cap within the span of two movies would be unnecessarily convoluted.
The likely reason behind the “Nomad” autograph inscriptions by Evans and Stan is simple enough. I’ve attended signings like these, including one with Evans, and the inscriptions are done to match the request of the person who actually paid for the autograph.
The signing celebrities are accompanied by one or more assistants who literally have you spell out the inscription or personalization you want on a Post-it note to make sure you get exactly what you want without any spelling errors. The only inscription you don’t have to request is the signer’s character name, as Evans “Cap” is a pretty easy word to spell.
Fans are paying a lot of money to get these autographs and often the items being signed are pretty expensive. That shield Evans and Stan signed doesn’t look cheap. Everyone involved wants to make sure the autograph seekers walk away happy customers.
I haven’t seen any other “Nomad” inscriptions emerging from ACE Comic Con, which suggests that the reason Evans and Stan made those inscriptions is because this fan explicitly requested the word “Nomad” be written on the shield.
Steve Rogers isn’t Captain America in the MCU right now, but he isn’t Nomad either. He’s just Steve, until he is inevitably Captain America once again.