When all was said and done, Avengers: Endgame robbed us of three beloved heroes, including Iron Man and Black Widow who died, and Captain America who retired to the past to finally have that dance with Peggy and marry the love of his life. While everything makes sense in the grand scheme of things, it’s Steve Rogers’s fate that sparked debates among fans about what had happened to the hero. Where in the past did he go, exactly? Did he age in our timeline, or did he help create a different reality branch once he stepped through the door of Peggy’s home? Marvel writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely recently explained how they chose who got to live and die in Endgame, and that’s also the place where they said they kept Steve’s fate a mystery on purpose. However, we have all the right answers for you, and it comes straight from Marvel.
The revelation came at the end of the same Vanity Fair interview where the writers explained the reasoning behind the plot choices of Endgame:
[Vanity Fair:] There were so many questions about the timeline and where Captain America lives with Peggy Carter, whether that’s an alternate timeline, whether he’s in our timeline. Is it good that people are still asking that, or do you feel like audiences are missing the obvious?
McFeely: Oh, it’s great!
Markus: Yeah, that’s fine. Those are unsatisfied questions. Those are intrigued questions. I’m delighted at people still chewing over this thing. You know, if it’s, That’s stupid and I don’t like it and I’m talking about it because it was dumb, that’s one thing. But if it’s, I honestly don’t know, and it’s kind of cool to think about, that’s great.
However, we’ll remind you that the writers previously stated that, in their view, Steve aged in the main MCU timeline. Here’s what they told Fandango back in early May:
Fandango: So people are asking… Does this mean an old Captain America was hanging out this whole time while another Captain America was saving the day?
Christopher Markus: That is our theory. We are not experts on time travel, but the Ancient One specifically states that when you take an Infinity Stone out of a timeline, it creates a new timeline. So Steve going back and just being there would not create a new timeline. So I reject the “Steve is in an alternate reality” theory.
I do believe that there is simply a period in world history from about ’48 to now where there are two Steve Rogers. And anyway, for a large chunk of that one of them is frozen in ice. So it’s not like they’d be running into each other.
Right around the same time, Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo said in a different interview in China that Cap created his own timeline at the end of the film:
QQ: Did Captain America’s action at the end affect the timeline? Does that mean there was a time where two CA existed in a same universe?
Anthony Russo: To me, CA’s action in the end wasn’t the fact he wanted to change anything, it’s more like me has made a choice. He chose to go back to past and lived with the one he loved for the rest of his life. The time travel in this movie created an alternate reality. He lived a completely different life in that world. We don’t know how exactly his life turned out, but I’d like to believe he still helped many others when they were needed in that world. Yes, there were two CA in that reality, it’s just like what Hulk said, what happened in the past has already happened. If you go back to past, you simply created a new reality. The characters in this movie created new timeline when they went back to the past, but it had no effect to the prime universe. What happened in the past 22 movies was still canon.
That’s something Marvel reiterated down the road. Steve created a different timeline and that’s where he spent his days until returning to the main MCU reality to bring that brand new Captain America shield to Sam — from our previous coverage:
“The way that it would work is that when Captain America goes back, he would create a branch reality,” Joe [Russo] explained. “Now he would exist in that branch reality with a second Captain America who was frozen in ice.”
“Peggy understood that he was dead at that point in the storytelling because Cap went back to a point in time where nobody knew he still was alive, frozen in ice,” Anthony [Russo] added.
Since Disney+ launched, we’ve been able to see plenty of Endgame deleted scenes that helped us understand the contradiction between the writers and directors when it comes to Steve’s fate. It turns out a different version of the plot may have contained elements that would have made the writers’ vision possible. In a deleted scene with Hulk and The Ancient One, we learn that simply returning the Infinity Stones to their rightful place is enough to clip all the other branches, and have all the other events fall back into the main timeline. In such a scenario, Steve would get to spend his life in the past of the main MCU timeline. But Marvel cut that scene and modified the script, so that’s no longer the case.
This huge controversy around Endgame’s finale might be worth exploring in a different kind of movie, one that could explore Steve’s life after that dance. If only Chris Evans was up for coming back to the MCU.