Hey, out of curiosity, is MCU Steve's origins closer to Ultimate Steve's origins? What's Ultimate Steve like, and is he different than he is in the 616 universe? And, is it true he dated Janet Van Dyne?
Oh boy. I have so many, many thoughts on this topic. Poor @queenmorganlafay, you’re probably going to be sorry you set me off. ;)
Short answer: Joss Whedon was writing Ultimates!Steve, Markus and McFeely are writing 616!Steve. And yes, Ultimates!Steve dated Jan at one point.
Now the long answer: Did you ever watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The slayer mythos went like this, every generation a slayer is born. The Watchers Council usually took that child as a baby, isolated her, and raised her to be 100% committed to her duty and purpose, with no space left over for friends, or family or love. They basically molded the perfect soldier and sacrificial lamb. Buffy escaped that fate, not being activated as a Slayer until she was already a teenager. She was raised by her parents, she formed friendships and emotional ties, and despite coming from a broken home, had a strong support network in her mother and her friends. Ultimates!Steve is how Captain America would be without his emotional ties, someone 100% committed to duty and honor and sacrifice. Someone with whom Steve Rogers got completely buried under Captain America.
For Steve HOW he woke up from the ice made all the difference in how his personality would evolve. I like to explain things this way: Steve Rogers is very much an introvert. He’s socially awkward, he once told Rachel that his idea of leisure-time was reading a book or working out, all solitary activities. Captain America is an extrovert. They are completely different skins that Steve wears. When he woke up in the 20th/’21st century (depending on which run you’re reading) Captain America had reached legend status. Steve woke up to a time when his alternate persona was absolutely revered. Which was immensely disconcerting for him, because what he found is that people had built Captain America up so much, had this ideal in their heads of what Captain America was and should be, that Steve Rogers was completely overshadowed. No one outside of his circle even knew who Steve Rogers was. And Steve struggled for decades trying to live up to the ideal of Captain America, the side effect being one big massive case of existential crises.
In the 616 universe Steve, like Buffy, has had a very strong support network. All the women he has loved: Sharon, Bernie and Rachel, have all left their imprint. His bond with Sam also left a tremendous imprint. And, very poignantly, his relationship with Tony Stark. In the 616 the Avengers (Tony, Thor, Hank and Jan) found Steve, and right away Tony took Steve under his wing. Gave him a home, helped him adapt, was fully committed in integrating Steve to the future. Ultimates!Steve didn’t have that. He was found by SHIELD, and unfortunately SHIELD was not really invested in getting to know Steve Rogers, they wanted Captain America, thus Steve Rogers got buried.
For 616!Steve, the people Steve surrounded himself with, the ones who said ‘you know, Captain America is great and all, but I really want to get to know Steve Rogers, can you bring him out, please’ made all the difference. So while Steve’s origins in the MCU matches that of the Ultimates universe, the various MCU writers have completely different takes on Steve’s personality.
I honestly believe that Joss Whedon was writing Ultimates!Steve. I also believe, because they’ve stated as much, that Markus and McFeely resent Joss for it and are very adamantly writing 616!Steve. I actually posted that quote from them once were they cast aspersions to Whedon’s characterization of Steve, just a minute let me find it… ah, here it is, from the 2016 Markus and McFeely SDCC panel…
McFeely: We don’t think of him quite as square as he was in the Avengers.
Interviewer: Darker edges basically?
Markus: He is… he’s a little more… he is a boy scout in the Avengers. And I don’t think our Steve ever was… that… pure. I mean, he’s pure, that’s the whole basis of him, but he’s not naïve.
McFeely: That said, if I had written “there’s only one god, ma'am and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that” I would be really happy.
Markus: See, I would have cut it.
So that’s probably way more than you wanted, but yeah, as in everything, it depends on which writer is writing him.