Endgame Directors Answer the Cap Timeline Question

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Did Cap jump to a different timeline or stay in the main one?

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It’s been nearly two years since Avengers: Endgame was released and became the highest-grossing film in history. The culmination of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe up until that point garnered near universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike, and offered a satisfying sendoff to a number of beloved MCU characters. But, as tends to happen with most MCU movies, Avengers: Endgame also kicked off an intense fan debate.

You’ll recall that at the end of the film, Cap (Chris Evans) steps into the time travel device to place all the Infinity Stones back where the Avengers found them, so as not to disrupt the space-time continuum. But although he was supposed to snap right back, he never returns in the machine. Instead, sitting on a bench nearby we see an old Steve Rogers, with the film’s ending revealing that after he put the Infinity Stones back, he went to see Peggy (Hayley Atwell) in the 1940s and appears to have lived a long life with her.

The question is this: Did Cap do all of this in the main timeline – i.e. throughout the entirety of the MCU, was “Old Cap” just sitting around quietly in the shadows watching his younger self go through events he himself had already lived through? Or did Cap jump to an alternate timeline to live his life with Peggy, one in which he was never frozen in ice and lived a long while with the love of his life?

Captain America: The First Avenger Ending Chris Evans
Image via Marvel Studios

Back when Avengers: Endgame came out, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed that in their opinion, there was no alternate timeline – Cap lived his life quietly in the main timeline:

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.

But now directors Joe and Anthony Russo have weighed in with the complete opposite opinion. Speaking to Lights Camera Barstool podcast (via CinemaBlend), the Russos revealed that in their minds, Cap jumped to an alternate timeline:

“Based on everything that happened, he would have been in a branch reality and then had to have shifted over to this, so jumped from one to the other and handed the shield off… One thing that’s clear that Anthony and I have discussed, I don’t know that we’ve discussed this publicly at all, Cap would have had to have traveled back to the main timeline. That’s something that, yes, he would have been in a branch reality, but he would have to travel back to the main timeline to give that shield to Sam Wilson.”

This certainly feels more substantial now that we know there’s an MCU movie in the works called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and there are significant rumors that the third Spider-Man movie will also be delving into the multiverse theory. This also could explain recent reports that Evans is negotiating a return to the MCU in a future project.

So there you have it. Kind of. Two years later, the directors of Avengers: Endgame reveal they disagree with the writers of Avengers: Endgame’s interpretation of a major plot point from the end of the film. And you thought it was just fans who had heated debates.

For a deeper dive into the MCU, check out our complete timeline of everything that happened and when.

Captain America: The First Avenger Hayley Atwell
Image via Marvel Studios

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