SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo attempt to clear up any confusion about Captain America's ending. The final shot of the MCU's Infinity Saga turned out to be one of the most emotional and cathartic in the entire franchise. After returning the six Infinity Stones to their proper places, Steve Rogers opted to remain in the past and finally have that dance with Peggy Carter. Thanks to the magic of time travel, he was able to live the full life he was robbed of, coming back to the present as an old man to pass the Captain America mantle to Sam Wilson. For many, it was the perfect bookend to Steve's arc.
But as is the case with time travel shenanigans, the twist raised some questions that fans have been thinking about since Endgame opened. Some wondered if it meant there were always two Steves in the MCU timeline: one living on the down low with Peggy, and the other going through all the events of The Avengers through Endgame after he was thawed out of the ice. But in the minds of the filmmakers, there's an entirely different explanation for it.
In an interview with EW, the Russos confirmed Steve traveled to an alternate dimension to be with Peggy. The brothers also revealed Bucky Barnes knew of Steve's plan, which is why their farewell has some weight behind it. Says Joe:
“If Cap were to go back into the past and live there, he would create a branched reality. The question then becomes, how is he back in this reality to give the shield away? Interesting question, right? Maybe there’s a story there. There’s a lot of layers built into this movie and we spent three years thinking through it, so it’s fun to talk about it and hopefully fill in holes for people so they understand what we’re thinking.”
Breaking this down, it means Steve was with a different Peggy in an alternate universe, rather than being with the prime Peggy he spent The First Avenger with. Marvel had been deliberately secretive in regards to Peggy's personal life after that movie, never revealing the identity of her husband. Some fans took that as evidence it was Steve all along (a variation of the "Kyle Reese is John Connor's father" revelation), but as it turns out, prime Peggy had a family with someone else after Steve went into the ice. It'll be interesting to see how viewers respond to this, but it does resolve any incestuous concerns about Steve's romance with Sharon Carter, Peggy's great niece. When the two kiss in Captain America: Civil War, they're not blood related.
As the Russos tease, it's now a mystery how Steve returned to the prime reality to say goodbye to Sam, but that answer may come another time. And as tempting as it is to try to figure out the logistics of Steve's dance with Peggy, that's not really the point of the scene - just like it didn't matter whether or not Cobb was dreaming at the end of Inception. Regardless of how it happened, Steve finally got to be with the girl of his dreams after years and years of waiting, and that's more than enough to warm fans' hearts at the end of Endgame.
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