Warning: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
We’re still reeling from the events of Avengers: Endgame, but mostly we’re excited for how it handled all of our favorite characters. The original Avengers all got their moments to shine in the 22nd Marvel movie, but now we’re focusing on one: Captain America.
We knew it had to happen. Since his very first film, Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers has dreamt about his dance with his one true love, Peggy Carter. In his final moments before crashing into the Arctic, just before he was frozen in the ice for seven decades, Steve thought of his dance date with Agent Carter. “I’m gonna need a rain check on that dance.” Peggy, knowing full well he was about to die, comforted him through tears. “Alright, a week next Saturday at the Stork Club. Eight o’clock on the dot, don’t you dare be late. Understood?” After his rescue and restoration by S.H.I.E.L.D., he thought only of that dance – for years and years.
That dance is part of why the ending of Endgame is such a tearjerker. After Thanos is defeated and the vanished are brought back to life, Steve steps back in the Quantum Realm time machine to take the Infinity Stones into the past and put them back, closing the time loops. But instead of returning to the present, he travels further into the past, where he presumably marries Peggy. The film closes with a flashback of them dancing together in their living room.
It’s a beautiful moment, but one that poses a lot of timeline questions. How far back did Steve go? What about Peggy’s husband that she mentions in The Winter Soldier? Here’s a rundown of Endgame‘s final moment, what it means, how it works, and what it could mean for the future of the MCU.
Where did Old Steve come from?
If we’re going off the time travel logic presented to us in Endgame, then Steve went back to 1970, when he and Tony traveled to in an effort to get the Tesseract prior to when Loki ran away with it. Also to acquire more Pym particles to continue their time traveling efforts. By going back to that time, as well as the times and places visited by the other Avengers, Steve would have effectively closed the time loops the Avengers created. But instead of jumping back to the present, he decided instead to go back in time – most likely to the 1950s, a.k.a. after the events of ABC’s Agent Carter – to live out the rest of his days with his long-lost love.
That means the elderly Steve we see at the end of Endgame is actually present-day Steve, who presumably lived in hiding and away from the major events of the Avengers films. He went back in time and stayed there, aged normally, and waited until the exact moment he could pass along his shield to Sam Wilson.
Who is his wife?
Old Steve Rogers is wearing a visible wedding ring when Sam speaks to him. Sam asks who the lucky lady is, and Steve respectfully refuses to talk about it. We can assume, given the scene we see next, that the woman he married was Peggy. That lends a whole new perspective to the scenes we see in films like The Winter Solider and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Knowing that Steve and Peggy were married all along makes their “reunion” in The Winter Soldier more layered. Peggy is saying goodbye to the young Cap – “it’s been so long” – while her husband, the aged Cap, is somewhere offscreen.
But this does present another possible wrinkle in the timeline…
What about Peggy’s husband?
In The Winter Soldier, we see Peggy in the WWII museum talking about her husband, a man who served as the member of a battalion over one thousand soldiers and was rescued by Captain America. Fans have wondered since Agent Carter‘s cancellation who this mystery man might be. It was never answered on that show, or in the films, but Endgame presents a few possibilities. The first is that Peggy married some random veteran we’ve never met, and the second is that this whole interview was a smokescreen to hide her secret marriage to Steve Rogers.
The latter seems more likely. Especially when you re-watch her scene in The Winter Soldier. On her deathbed, Peggy talks to a young Cap, and we see photographs of her children on her bedside table. Conveniently, there are no pictures of her husband, meaning he could be anyone. It’s likely, then, that the husband Peggy refers to in the film is actually Steve, and she never mentions their peculiar situation to his younger self because she knows it would compromise the series of events that led them to one another. Instead, she acts as if she hasn’t seen him in decades.
What will Steve do next?
We see Steve pass the torch (shield, really) to Sam at the end of Endgame. We don’t, however, get a definitive “death scene.” Even so, it seems pretty obvious that this is Chris Evans’ last film in the MCU. He’s hinted as much for a long time, and ending the film on his dance with Peggy feels pretty finite. The best way to look at Avengers: Endgame is as his swan song. He may not have literally died, but those final frames are his spiritual “death.” Knowing that the main events of the Avengers films end on Cap and Peggy’s final dance makes this entire journey feel worth it, and means it’s come almost totally full circle. Who can be mad at that?
Images: Disney, Marvel