Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Avengers: Endgame.
Captain America didn't die in Avengers: Endgame because everyone was expecting him to, co-director Joe Russo explains. As one of the original Earth's Mightiest Heroes, not to mention the trajectory of the character in the MCU, Steve Rogers was one of the heroes that the public was preparing to say goodbye to in the latest Marvel blockbuster. It didn't help that Chris Evans posted that emotional message when they wrapped production on the film, despite the fact that he belatedly clarified that it wasn't anything indicative of Cap's fate.
Amidst all those clues, Endgame didn't go with the expected route, and let Rogers survive the Thanos debacle. Instead, the film saw the heroic deaths of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) - the first two Avengers introduced in the MCU. The Super Soldier, on the other hand, got the life he's forever longed for as he went back in time to reunite with the love of his life, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), fulfilling the dance he promised to her decades ago. Because of this, fans saw an elderly Rogers who had lived a happy life, albeit creating a brand new universe in the franchise. He only went back to the main MCU timeline to hand-off the shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and officially pass on the mantle of Captain America to his loyal friend. It was the perfect final act for Rogers, something that the directors and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were adamant on giving him.
Sitting down with Comic Book for a live Q&A session about Endgame, Russo opened up about the mentality behind keeping Captain America alive, and he admitted that a part of the reason is because they wanted to subvert people's expectations with regard to his arc. And while it's not really what drives their storytelling, he added that it's their inclination as storytellers.
Which is why we didn't kill him. It's not about trying to subvert expectations all the time, even though that comes into it. Typically when you're in a writer's room and you're working through storytelling, and somebody says something feels obvious you go, well that's the expectation. And it's not that we don't always meet expectations, but the job, I think, is to surprise people.
All that being said, although Captain America didn't die in Endgame, the film effectively writes him off out of the MCU. The shield has officially been passed to Sam, and while it's unclear where Marvel Studios is bringing the character next, the Disney+ series centering on his team-up with Bucky, Falcon & Winter Soldier, may tackle his early days of getting used to his new superhero persona. Considering how Rogers has become this symbol of hope during the five-year gap between Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, not to mention the role he played in bringing back everyone who's dusted by The Decimation, it's safe to assume that it'll take some time for Sam to feel comfortable claiming his mantle.
As for Rogers himself, he may no longer be Captain America after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but his decision to live a life with Peggy opens up a myriad of narrative opportunities to explore for Marvel Studios. Their love story technically taking place in an alternate timeline where he's not the super soldier but has his memory of being one intact sounds like an interesting premise for a new project. Otherwise, Marvel Studios can just occasionally tap Evans to reprise the role for a quick cameo in their future films.
Source: Comic Book