Captain America is getting a major costume upgrade in Avengers: Endgame as he’ll finally dawn his chainmail look. This is his classic design in the comics after all, making it all the more surprising that Marvel Studios waited this long to bring it to the screen. This element of his suit has been teased in prior movies, but the first hint of Captain America’s suit using chainmail for protection actually came back during Captain America: The First Avenger.
Through nearly 10 years of appearances, Chris Evans has worn several different Captain America costumes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Once he ditched the USO suit, Steve Rogers suited up ready to do battle in World War II. His suit embraced many traditional elements of his comic look and was fitted with plenty of pouches, not to mention receiving Captain America’s classic vibranium shield. But, once he got to the present day, Captain America’s costume continued to evolve from his stealth design in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to more traditional looks in other movies. For the last few years in the MCU, though, Captain America has been wearing the same suit, and Avengers: Infinity War showed that it had seen better days. The suit is dirty and torn apart, with Cap removing any Avengers labels from it due to his fugitive status.
But, this wear and tear also revealed that he’s had chainmail under his armor for a while. Now with Avengers: Endgame right around the corner, promotional art has indicated Captain America will get a proper chainmail suit. Even though the set up appeared to have been more recent, The First Avenger is the film that contains the earliest tease of this transformation. When Steve meets with Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) about getting a suit and shield for combat, they discuss several different options. Howard shows him part of the suit can incorporate carbon polymer, reassuring this is enough to stop any bayonets he should encounter. Although Howard refers to it as carbon polymer, it’s the exact same design as Captain America’s chainmail. So, even though Howard doesn’t call it chainmail – electing to instead use a more accurate description of the material – the intent of the scene is clearly to set it up.
Since Howard Stark suggested the use of this material in the original Captain America costume, it’s likely that it was incorporated into the final design. If that’s the case, then it would appear that Captain America has always had a chainmail element to his suit and we just didn’t know. They elected to keep the protective armor underneath the top layer and since that is what Steve became accustomed to, it would make sense for it to continue and be part of all of his future suits – especially as the threats he faced became more powerful.
Now with Avengers: Endgame appearing to fully embrace the chainmail design, this set up in Captain America: The First Avenger just goes to show how well Marvel Studios has become of paying off on small details. The studio could not have known back in 2011 that the chainmail wouldn’t be properly seen for another eight years, but that’s exactly what happened. It may also be fitting that Captain America’s first MCU appearance teased the look and it took all the way until Evans’ final Captain America appearance to make use of it. This is the character’s classic look in the comics after all, and whether or not Marvel consciously decided to wait until now to use it, Avengers: Endgame partially has Captain America’s origin film to thank for his new look.