The following post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame, or maybe it doesn’t because even the people who made the movie don’t agree on exactly what happened at the end.

The focus of a lot of Avengers: Endgame discussion remains the events of that final scene, where Steve Rogers returns the Infinity Stones to the past, but then doesn’t return home as he’s supposed to. Instead, he lives for decades in the past with Peggy Carter. The exact mechanics of his decision are left vague and unclear, and a lot of people want to know exactly how this works. People have different theories about where Steve went (To our past? An alternate past?) and how he lived (Secretly? As a superhero?) and no one is quite sure what happened.

Apparently, that includes Endgame’s creators. As noticed by /Film, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have given contradictory answers to the question of where Cap went and what he did. Markus told Fandango:

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.

He says he believes that there was a long time (from “’48 to now”) where “there are two Steve Rogers” in the MCU. But at a recent Q&A, the Russos were the ones explicitly endorsing that “Steve is in an alternate reality” theory (via /Film):

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 who is right here? Well, probably whoever sticks around and writes or directs more Marvel movies in Phase Four, or writes a TV show about this missing story, possibly as an episode of Disney+’s upcoming What If? animated series that will supposedly explore alternate Marvel realities.

Personally I can’t wrap my brain around Steve Rogers living in his own past for decades. For that to work, not only could no one ever notice he was there (or living with Peggy Carter!) but he could never help anyone even as events he could prevent or minimize were going on all around him. That doesn’t sound like Steve Rogers to me.

It seems more plausible that Steve would instead be in an alternate reality, living a more heroic, Captain America-ish life with Peggy. That would also explain why he has the shield he gives to Sam Wilson in that scene — because at some point in this alternate reality, he made a new shield, and became Captain America in the past. Which theory do you subscribe to?

Gallery — Marvel Phase Four - 10 Characters We Want to See:

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