In Avengers: Endgame, 2012 Captain America had a CGI helmet during his fight with 2023 Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) because test audiences were confused. The 22nd entry in Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame operated as a culminating installment, wrapping up the stories of certain characters who have been around since Phase 1. As such, directors Anthony and Joe Russo made sure to include as many fan service moments as possible, like Captain America wielding Mjolnir in the final battle against Thanos and, of course, Cap finally saying, "Avengers, assemble!"
One such fan service moment arrives when Steve, Tony Stark aka. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Scott Lang aka. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) travel to 2012 for the Tesseract/Space Stone. There, not only do the trio make plenty of Captain America butt jokes, but Steve faces off with the 2012 version of himself, literally and thematically fighting the person he used to be. It's an important step in Cap's journey that eventually sees him retiring to the 1940s so he can live out his life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), but it's also a fun sequence for fans. However, it seems Avengers: Endgame test audiences were confused by the scene because it originally featured both versions of Captain America helmet-less, which is why one received a helmet in post-production.
During the Visual Effects Behind Avengers: Endgame panel at D23 Expo 2019 over the weekend, a team of Marvel Studios filmmakers and special effects artists spoke about working on the blockbuster film. As seen in the video below posted by ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis, the panelists confirmed that they added a CGI helmet to 2012 Captain America so that audiences could differentiate the characters - since the actors and costumes were otherwise almost identical. Check out the video below.
In a previously released Marvel Entertainment video, visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw also confirmed they added 2012 Cap's helmet in post-production using CGI, citing test audience confusion as the reason. However, he also offered some insight into the original plan for how viewers would differentiate the two Captain Americas - by The Avengers Cap having a cut on his face. DeLeeuw said:
Originally, we shot it without the cowl - without the helmet. But then, when we started testing the movie, people were losing track of which Cap was which. We had the cut on his face that he would’ve gotten in the Battle of New York, but people weren’t following that so we ended up actually having to put a CG helmet onto Avengers Cap.
It makes sense that audiences were getting confused by the two nearly identical Captain Americas if a cut on one man's face was the only way to tell them apart. During a chaotic fight sequence, where both their faces aren't always visible, it's easy to lose track of which is which. Adding a helmet/cowl to 2012 Captain America undoubtedly helped dispel any confusion among audiences during the Cap vs. Cap fight. However, there will no doubt be fans who wish they'd shot the scene that way from the start, since so much of Avengers: Endgame is CGI, it's arguable that the Russo brothers and Marvel Studios relied a little too heavily on their VFX artists.
Still, it's better for one Captain America to have a CGI helmet than for viewers to get distracted by trying to figure out which one is which. And as one of the more memorable and beloved moments in Avengers: Endgame, it's clear fans largely don't have much of a problem with the post-production addition of 2012's Captain America helmet. Plus it's a cool bit of trivia for fans to hold onto, especially as Steve Rogers actor Evans retires the MCU in Avengers: Endgame.
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