The Marvel Universe is filled with inspirational heroes who are willing to put their lives on the line to save others, but in the minds of many fans, Captain America stands above the rest as the most heroic of all. Steve Rogers is always the first to take charge when a new threat arises, and his relentless moral code and unwavering bravery helps him make the right and just decision even when that pins him against his friends.
There's no questioning that since his first appearance in 1941's Captain America Comics #1, Cap has proven himself worthy of his glowing reputation. He's protected countless innocents, went to war against Tony Stark to fight for the rights of his fellow heroes and lead Earth's Mightiest Heroes to victory against many of Marvel's most formidable villains. But Steve Rogers' history isn't quite as spotless as some comic book readers or MCU fans seem to think.
Captain America has made his fair share of mistakes over the past several decades, and some of his decisions and actions would definitely shock fans of the Star-Spangled Avenger.
20 CAP DATED BOTH CARTER SISTERS AT ONCE
Steve Rogers' true love in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was always Peggy Carter, but when he emerged from the ice several decades later, he ended up dating her great-niece Sharon before eventually going back in time to be with Peggy. That was definitely awkward, but nowhere near as bizarre as his comic book dynamic with the Carters.
In the comics, Sharon and Peggy are sisters. Steve didn't have the heart to tell Peggy that he'd moved on from her and fallen for Sharon, so he dated both sisters at the same time.
19 HE USES HIS SUPER STRENGTH AGAINST REGULAR PEOPLE
When Peter Parker fights against his rogue's gallery of villains as Spider-Man, he has to hold back against the majority of them because a full-strength punch could severely injure them. After all, Spidey once proved capable of punching the Hulk all the way to the moon.
Captain America has similarly powerful super-strength, but he surprisingly doesn't always use that much restraint. He's been shown unleashing full-strength punches against even his superpower-less adversaries.
18 HE TRIED TO ELIMINATE HIS BEST FRIEND BUCKY
In Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers was willing to tear apart the Avengers and be viewed as an enemy in the eyes of the country he loves to protect his best friend Bucky Barnes. Their friendship is similarly close in the comics, which is why many fans were surprised when Cap tried ending Bucky's life.
To be fair, the Captain America that did this had his memories altered by Kobik and thought that he was a lifelong Hydra sleeper agent. But that still doesn't fully justify his decision to eliminate his best friend.
17 STEVE ONCE USED HIS SHIELD TO DECAPITATE A VILLAIN
In the Captain America comics, Dracula's servant Baron Blood set out trying to create more vampires and wreaked all sorts of havoc in the process. Cap joined with Union Jack to take the villain down, and when they finally had Blood defeated, Steve did something incredibly shocking to ensure the threat would be permanently neutralized.
He lifted up his iconic shield and used it to decapitate the supernatural antagonist. Blood's body was then burned to ashes, and the ashes were scattered. This was definitely one of Cap's most savage and startling decisions.
16 CAP CAN USE HIS STRATEGIC PROWESS TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD
Steve Rogers is one of the most skilled strategists in Marvel Comics, which is why he's led so many different teams of superheroes since his creation. His ability to assess threats, identify the strengths and weaknesses of his allies, and make plans that will ensure success has helped him save the world countless times. In the Secret Empire storyline, however, that strategic know-how helped him conquer the world.
When he was tricked into thinking he worked for HYDRA, Steve outsmarted nearly all of the universe's greatest heroes to make the organization's dreams of global domination come true.
15 STEVE ROGERS IS AN EXPERT LIAR
For someone who is supposed to fight for truth and justice, Captain America is a surprisingly good liar. Steve is typically honest to a fault, but when he tried taking over the world in the name of HYDRA, he managed to hide the truth about his plans from all of his fellow heroes—several of whom are experts at discerning when they're being lied to.
In addition to fooling his teammates and friends, Steve tricked the government into giving him control in cases of emergencies, and then created an emergency which allowed him to rule the world.
14 STEVE KEPT THE TRUTH ABOUT BUCKY FROM TONY STARK
Speaking of times where Captain America successfully lied to his friends, Steve's betrayal of Tony Stark in Civil War was the final nail in the Avengers' coffin and proved that he definitely has a shady side.
Steve knew that while he was being mind-controlled as the Winter Soldier, Bucky was ordered to eliminate Tony's parents. He kept this a secret, however, in an attempt to protect his childhood buddy. Tony was understandably furious, and the divide between the heroes contributed to Thanos' victory in Infinity War.
13 HE THROWS TEMPER TANTRUMS WHEN HE'S REJECTED
Captain America is typically one of the most mature and level-headed members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but he's definitely lost his cool a few times over the years.
When Steve fell for Sharon Carter, he fell hard. He was ready to marry Agent 13 after their very first date, and when she rejected his proposal, Cap freaked out. He stormed out of their date, tried getting her kicked out of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even considered retiring from his job as a superhero.
12 HE ORCHESTRATED BRUCE BANNER'S ELIMINATION
When a new Inhuman emerged with the power to see potential futures, the brainwashed Hydra Captain America became worried that this boy would foresee his plan to take over the world and alert the other heroes. So, to keep attention off of himself, he created a diversion by focusing the Inhuman's attention on Bruce Banner.
The novice psychic was capable of seeing the worst possible futures, and one of these showed the Hulk on a dangerous rampage. Heroes gathered to stop this from happening, and before the Hulk could even do anything, Hawkeye ended his life.
11 HE CAUSED A SCHISM BETWEEN THE AVENGERS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THANOS' VICTORY
It's hard to place full blame for Thanos' Infinity War victory on any one hero, because several of Earth's Mightiest contributed to it. But when Steve Rogers tore the Avengers apart just so he could protect Bucky and fight the Sokovia Accords, he practically welcomed the Mad Titan to Earth.
Thanos would have struggled to obtain Earth's Infinity Stones if the team of superheroes was united, but with them separated, he only lost a single drop of blood in his quest to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet.
10 HE TOOK OUT MYSTIQUE WHEN SHE WAS TRYING TO PROTECT INNOCENT KIDS
In the alternate reality of Age of X, Captain America and his fellow Avengers are tasked with taking down the X-Men and their fellow mutants. Some of the heroes struggled with their orders to eliminate the mutants instead of merely capturing them, but Captain America apparently didn't suffer from this moral dilemma.
Steve took out Mystique within seconds of encountering her, and while she's a villain in the regular Marvel universe, in this reality she was simply trying to protect some mutant children.
9 HE LETS HIS PERSONAL LIFE GET IN THE WAY OF HIS MISSIONS
During most of the Avengers' missions, Captain America stays incredibly focused on the task at hand and doesn't allow himself to get distracted by anything. That all changes, however, the moment someone says Bucky Barnes' name.
Crossbones used Cap's love for Bucky to distract him in Civil War, and that moment of hesitation led to the loss of many lives. Steve then used this technique against a past version of himself in Avengers: Endgame, to gain the upper hand against his double. Heroes really shouldn't let their personal lives affect them that much during missions.
8 CAP ENDED HIS BIGGEST FAN'S LIFE
No matter how many comic readers or Marvel Cinematic Universe viewers claim they're Captain America's biggest fan, no one will ever compare to Jack Flag. His love for the Star-Spangled Avenger inspired him to become a minor league hero, and he did everything he could to be more like Cap.
All of that hero worship didn't exactly work out for poor Jack, though. When he accidentally witnessed something that slightly exposed the HYDRA-brainwashed Steve Rogers' true allegiance, Captain America threw his biggest fanboy out of a plane.
7 CAP ENCOURAGED DEADPOOL TO TAKE OUT PHIL COULSON
S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson just might be Captain America's second biggest fan, and he suffered from the same fate as Jack Flag for loving Steve Rogers a bit too much. Coulson's lifelong fandom of the hero made him one of the first to recognize that something about the HYDRA-brainwashed Cap was off, and to keep Coulson from exposing the truth, Steve ordered Deadpool to end the agent's life.
Since Captain America is typically one of the most honorable heroes in the world, the Merc with a Mouth did as he was instructed without question.
6 HE DIDN'T SAY GOODBYE TO HIS TEAMMATES AND FRIENDS
Fans who ship Steve Rogers with his Captain America: The First Avenger crush Peggy Carter undoubtedly love the couple's surprise reunion in Avengers: Endgame. Cap used time travel to return to Peggy, and he retired from being a superhero so he could live out the rest of his life with her.
This was definitely a sweet idea, but it was weird that Steve didn't warn his teammates about what he planned on doing. His younger self left them without so much as a goodbye, just days after they also lost Iron Man and Black Widow.
5 CAPTAIN AMERICA DOESN'T ACTUALLY MIND TAKING OUT HIS ENEMIES PERMANENTLY
Most superheroes refuse to eliminate their villains, no matter how many times they escape capture and go right back to committing crime or trying to take over the world. The Punisher has a bad rap for his willingness to simply neutralize potential threats, but despite his morals and glowing reputation, Captain America actually does the same thing with many of his foes.
In this startling comic frame, Cap actually turned his motorcycle into a bomb in order to instantly take out several nameless, potentially innocent HYDRA agents.
4 HE CREATED AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE TO BE WITH HIS OLD FLAME
When the Avengers went back in time to try to assemble their own Infinity Gauntlet, the Ancient One explained to Bruce Banner that altering the timeline could lead to the creation of multiple realities. She warned of the dangers of this, but Steve Rogers simply didn't care. Nothing was going to stop him from going back in time for Peggy Carter, and by returning to the past and marrying her, Steve messed up the timeline in a very confusing manner.
3 STEVE TRIED TAKING OUT MUTANTKIND'S LAST HOPE
It's difficult to say who the heroes of Avengers vs. X-Men were and who the villains were. The Avengers tried to take out the Phoenix Force due to the cosmic entity's destructive potential, and the X-Men wanted to protect it because they believed the Phoenix Force would help alter mutantkind's dwindling population.
What is certain, however, is that Captain America was a bit out of line trying to take out Hope Summers, the anticipated host for the Phoenix Force. She was just an innocent teenager, and hadn't done anything wrong yet.
2 HE SET UP AN INEXPERIENCED FAN FOR FAILURE BY GIVING HIM HIS SHIELD
When Steve Rogers retired from being Captain America to become "Nomad," he handed his shield and superhero moniker over to Roscoe Simons, another enthusiastic Cap fan. Roscoe was just a mechanic with no superpowers, and by entrusting someone so normal with his old title and uniform, Steve practically sealed Roscoe's fate.
After a fight against the Red Skull, Roscoe got captured and the HYDRA leader was enraged to discover that someone had replaced his old rival as Captain America. He then tortured and crucified Roscoe, proving that all of Cap's most dedicated followers are basically cursed.
1 HE GLUED BARON ZEMO'S HOOD TO HIS FACE
Captain America doesn't really hold back against his enemies in battle, and no villain knows this better than Baron Zemo. During a fight against Zemo, Cap threw his shield at a vat of Adhesive X—the world's strongest glue—to make it spill all over the HYDRA scientist's face.
This fused Zemo's mask onto his face permanently, and while he can still see, breathe and hear okay, Zemo hasn't been able to eat since and can only be fed with IVs.