Avengers: Endgame is a satisfying conclusion to the first era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a number of reasons. Not only does it deliver a hefty dose of incredible comic book action and raw, genuine emotion, but it gives many of the characters satisfying, definitive character arcs. One of them becomes clear in the final scene, but this moment in particular has caused fans to ask some questions, and thankfully directors Anthony & Joe Russo have provided some answers.
Major spoilers follow, so don’t read any further if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame.
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America (Chris Evans) is the one tasked with going back through the quantum realm to travel back into the past and put the Infinity Stones back where they got them. As Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) explained in the movie, it’s the only way they can take the stones from the past without seriously messing up the future for those timelines. With a suitcase full of stones and Mjolnir in his hand, he goes back and is meant to return in about five seconds. But instead, Steve Rogers never returns.
However, nearby the makeshift time travel equipment next to the rubble of the old Avengers facility, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) notice a man sitting on a bench next to the lake. The two seem to realize who it is, and Bucky tells Sam, “Go ahead.”
When Sam approaches the man sitting on the bench, we see that it’s Steve Rogers, now an old man. Sam asks him whether something went wrong or right while he was trying to take all the stones back. Steve tells him that he merely tried to have some of that life Tony Stark was always telling him to get. But Steve wanted to stop by to give Sam something that might come in handy: Captain America’s shield.
After a wonderful passing of the torch, Sam notices a wedding ring on Steve’s finger, but that’s a memory that Cap chooses to keep for himself. Thankfully, we get to see exactly where Steve Rogers went after returning all the stones. As “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” by Harry James and His Orchestra plays, the camera moves in on a house in the middle of what appears to be the 1940s. Steve is seen inside through a window, and as we get closer, we see him finally having that dance with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), the love of his life.
However, fans have been wondering how Steve Rogers traveling to the past to live a life with Peggy Carter is possible when he appears as an old man in the primary timeline where nothing was supposed to change. It’s all part of the various paradoxes that seem to exists thanks to the time travel in the movie. But Anthony & Joe Russo have provided an explanation that clarifies exactly how this scene works without breaking the primary timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Captain America Joined Peggy Carter in an Alternate Timeline
At a Q&A event that recently happened in China (via Reddit), Anthony & Joe Russo were asked a series of questions about the biggest surprises and moments in Avengers: Endgame. Thankfully, someone asked about this final scene and whether or not Captain America traveling to the past resulted in a change in the primary timeline. Since he lived a life with Peggy Carter and then spoke to Sam and Bucky in the same timeline that he had just left, how is that possible? One of the Russo brothers answered:
“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.”
So does that mean there are two Captain America’s in that alternate timeline?
“Yes, there were two Captain Americas 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 a 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 why Hulk promised The Ancient One that they’d return the Infinity Stones, so as not to mess up what she and the people in her reality considered their own prime timeline. Basically, this allows for multiple realities to exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just as Marvel Comics has various realities that allow for different versions of characters to exists and eventually crossover and meet each other. The Russos explained it further by again referencing the final scene with Cap:
“Both Ancient One and Hulk were right. You can’t change the future by simply going back to past. But it’s possible to create a different alternate future. It’s not butterfly effect. Every decision you made in the past could potentially create a new timeline. For example, the old Cap at the end movie, he lived his married life in a different universe from the main one. He had to make another jump back to the main universe at the end to give the shield to Sam.”
So what did Steve Rogers have to do in order to time travel back to the primary timeline and give Sam Wilson his shield? That’s a question that we may get an answer to down the road. Because apparently there are still some details Anthony & Joe Russo aren’t willing to reveal. The directors were also asked when Steve Rogers traveled back to in order to dance with her, and they said:
“We can’t answer it for now, this is a story that happened in an alternate reality. Maybe it will be revealed in the future.”
Does that mean we could see something play out that explains where Captain America is in the past? Maybe we’ll find out how he was able to travel to the future. Maybe old man Steve Rogers will somehow be part of the Falcon and The Winter Soldier series and we’ll get some tidbits about his ending over there. One thing we know for sure now is that Loki stealing the Tesseract makes for a new 2012 timeline, and that’s likely where his Disney+ series will be taking place. Will there be any other shows that take place in alternate timelines? Maybe WandaVision? Anything is possible in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Source: Slash Film