At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America returns the Infinity Stones to their proper places in history, but rather than returning to the present day, stays in the 1940s and lives out his life with Peggy Carter. Too old to be a superhero when history catches up with him, the now-elderly Cap passes on his shield to Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon).
But even if Steve’s superhero career is over, the public may still need him in this post-Endgame world. With billions of people suddenly returning to society after a five-year absence, they’ll need plenty of help readjusting – and old Cap may be the best person for the job. Taking Steve and Sam full circle, in the best way possible.
Here, we’ll examine some of the challenges sure to be faced by the MCU residents who suffered the effects of the Thanos snap and ensuing Decimation. And how Steve Rogers can find a new way to help.
Snap Victims May Deal With Radically Different Relationships
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, it’s revealed that the teenage students snapped away by Thanos remained the same age when they “blipped” back. Those who survived the snap, however, grew five years older. This is mostly played for laughs as a returning student comments his little brother is now his older brother, while a former junior high student becomes one of Peter Parker’s main rivals for MJ.
However, there’s an uncomfortable side to this reality, as the sudden age gap may radically alter or shatter important relationships. Boyfriends and girlfriends may reunite, only to discover their significant other is now technically underage. Parents who were snapped away may return to find their children are now legally adults. Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) discovers this when he sees his 10-year-old daughter Cassie Lang is now in her mid-teens. While Cassie seems eager to reconnect with her father, other children may not be able to relate so well to their parents.
Even adults who might not see the age gap as a major obstacle, will find themselves facing harsh realities. In Endgame, Steve Rogers runs a support group encouraging others to “move on” and pursue new relationships. He means well, but when everyone’s loved ones return post-Snap, many will find those who did “move on” have remarried and even started new families. Others may return to find themselves jobless, homeless, and completely out-of-touch with the times.
Steve Rogers is The Best Man to Help Snap Victims
At first, it seems obvious why Steve Rogers should be the one to counsel these post-Snap victims. As someone who returned to society after being frozen for 65 years, Captain America knows first-hand the trauma of waking up to find everything and everyone around you has changed. And while 65 years seems more extreme than 5 years, at the rate modern society evolves – not to mention the rate it had to evolve after losing half its population – the world these post-Snap victims now live in could be just as alien as the one Captain America experienced.
But there’s another reason why old Steve Rogers is the best man to run a support group for this post-Endgame society. For most of his character arc, Captain America forced himself to put his past behind him so he could move on – something he reiterated to the survivors of Thanos’ snap. However, this attitude also made Cap very depressed. He resists forming relationships with people outside of work and throws himself into dangerous missions to avoid addressing his trauma. In Endgame, he admits to Black Widow that he keeps telling others to move on… but he can’t.
When Cap stays in the 1940s at the end of Endgame, however, he stops living in denial about what he wants out of life. While some might view Steve Rogers' choice to stay in the past as a selfish one, it’s also an emotionally healthy decision that lets Steve Rogers admit to himself where he belongs – and with who.
Thus, the elderly Steve Rogers now has a unique perspective even the most seasoned psychotherapist may not have. Where other counselors may regurgitate the “move on” mentality to their patients, old Steve Rogers knows how difficult (even impossible) this can be. He also knows how damaging following such advice can be for certain people. Most importantly, however, he knows that it’s possible to regain what he thought he’d lost forever. Granted it’s unlikely most people will get to travel back in time like he did – but old Steve is now open to more possibilities than his younger self, and may be able to help others with this mindset.
Therapy Groups in Marvel Comic Books
Although the idea of a support group for superhuman fall out doesn’t sound like the most exciting setting for an MCU movie or Disney+ show, it’s actually led to some of the most fascinating stories in the comic books. Following Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion storyline where many superheroes were replaced by Skrulls, the superhero psychiatrist Doc Samson and Alicia Masters, wife of the Fantastic Four’s Thing, help those abducted by Skrulls address their trauma. Alicia herself was once abducted by a Skrull and returned to find her double had married the Human Torch and changed her life completely. Knowing the struggle of returning to society, she helps other abductees with everything from reconnecting with family to re-establishing a good credit rating.
Outside of Marvel Comics, Kurt Busiek’s award winning independent comic Astro City ends with a three-part storyline about a support group for superhero-based trauma. This follows an earlier story, “The Nearness of You,” where an ordinary man, Michael Tenicek, discovers his wife Miranda was erased from existence during a cosmic-level superhero conflict that rewrote the timestream. Michael ends up creating a support group – “Miranda’s Friends” – where people who were injured in superhuman battles, abducted by supervillains, or lost loved ones can find care from like-minded people.
As Chris Evans has confirmed he won't appear Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing old Steve Rogers running a support group in the MCU any time soon. That’s unfortunate, as other MCU shows like Jessica Jones reveal how destructive the effects of trauma can be. With so many rich story possibilities, however, let’s hope the MCU eventually acknowledges the trauma of post-Avengers: Endgame, and allows Captain America one final mission.