There are plenty of sad moments in the MCU – Quill shooting bubbles at Gamora, “He killed my mom,” and a number of deaths spring to mind – but few characters in this sprawling universe are as tragically drawn as Steve Rogers. He’s a character whose arc began when he woke up in a different chapter of history.
Everyone he ever loved was either really old or dead and he found himself completely out of touch with modern society. He filled his days by serving his government, the only thing he had left, and they turned out to be in bed with the bad guys. Captain America’s MCU arc was an emotional rollercoaster. So, here are Captain America’s 10 Saddest Moments In The MCU, Ranked.
10 Telling Peggy he needs to sacrifice himself to save the world
Most Marvel fans went into Captain America: The First Avenger knowing Steve Rogers’ origin story, that he was going to get frozen at the end and be unthawed in the modern day. And the movie’s prologue even established that. But it still came as an emotional moment when Steve was piloting a plane filled with weapons of mass destruction and told Peggy that he’d have to down the plane, effectively killing himself, in order to save the world.
What made the scene heartbreaking was that the two made plans for a date as the plane was going down, and when Steve hit the ice, the transmission was suddenly cut off. Of course, they would eventually get to have that dance.
9 Looking at Hawkeye’s family and thinking he’ll never have one
The detour to meet Hawkeye’s family in Avengers: Age of Ultron divided fans, with some feeling that it slowed the movie down and felt out of place. However, that sequence serves everyone’s character arcs in interesting ways, like Captain America solemnly lamenting the fact that he’ll never have the quaint family life that Clint Barton has found.
Joss Whedon illustrated the point perfectly with the shot of Cap standing in the doorway taken straight from John Ford’s seminal western masterpiece The Searchers. There’s an added poignancy to the scene now that we know that Cap did eventually get to have that life.
8 Watching Thanos rip his shield in half
When he went into the ice for almost a century, Steve Rogers lost everything. But he still had his shield. No matter what enemies he faced, Steve had his trusty shield at his side and managed to frisbee most of his foes with it. However, when he went head-to-head with Thanos on the battleground in Avengers: Endgame, Thanos double-edged sword tore right through it, ripping it in half, just like in Tony’s Mind Stone vision.
The look on Steve’s face as he watches Thanos’ blade tear through the weapon that he thought was indestructible is heartbreaking. But he bravely keeps using it.
7 Carrying Peggy’s coffin at her funeral
Following the Avengers’ debate over whether or not to sign the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War, Steve gets a text to say that Peggy has died in her sleep. He immediately tells everyone that he has to go and flies out to England for the funeral.
The sight of Steve walking through the church at Peggy’s funeral as one of the pallbearers carrying her coffin was so poignant and heartbreaking that it was used as one of the black-and-white recap clips at the beginning of the Avengers: Endgame trailer. The screenwriters have since confirmed that the older version of Steve who crossed over the timelines in the past was sitting at the back of the church, watching from afar.
6 “I’m with you...‘til the end of the line.”
The MCU as a whole might have a “villain problem,” but the pairing of hero and villain in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is brilliant. Steve Rogers is clinging to all he has left as he struggles to make it in the modern world, and then finds that what he has left, S.H.I.E.L.D., has been secretly overrun by Hydra, his mortal enemies.
And then, he finds out that the brainwashed assassin they’ve sent after him is his best friend Bucky Barnes, who he thought he watched die 70 years ago. In the end, Steve refuses to fight Bucky, repeating their old motto, “I’m with you...‘til the end of the line,” and bringing back at least a part of his memory.
5 Reconciling with Tony over a common goal
Tony Stark initially dismisses Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Scott Lang when come to him with the idea for the “Time Heist” to bring everybody back. However, after seeing a photo of Peter Parker, Tony decides to give time travel a shot and ends up figuring it out.
So, he heads to Avengers HQ to reunite with Steve and tell him he nailed time travel. He decides to let go of the resentment he feels towards Steve and re-establish their trust. They both lost dearly, and with a common goal in sight, they were free to reunite in bittersweet fashion.
4 “I had a date.”
When Steve Rogers wakes up in a 1940s-style hospital room and realizes he attended the baseball game that’s supposedly being reported “live” on the radio, he figures something’s up. So, he breaks out of the room and finds himself in a modern-day S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He fights his way out the front door onto the street and looks around at billboard-laden Times Square, an environment that’s completely alien to him.
Nick Fury greets him, tells him what’s going on, and asks if he’s going to be out. Setting up his MCU character arc, Steve reveals the one thing on his mind after this unimaginable ordeal: “I had a date.”
3 Seeing Peggy in 1970
During the “Time Heist” sequence in Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark and Ant-Man screw up the Space Stone extraction and they don’t have enough Pym Particles to make two more trips. So, Tony comes up with a plan to travel back to a time and place where they can get the Space Stone and some more Pym Particles: a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in New Jersey in 1970.
There, Tony bumps into his dad and gets some closure on their relationship. Meanwhile, Steve hides out in an office that turns out to be Peggy’s. He sees her come into the office and is reminded of the love he’s been missing out on.
2 Revealing that he knew about Tony Stark’s parents’ murder
Some fans have theorized that Steve Rogers was only able to budge Mjolnir in Avengers: Age of Ultron because he was still holding onto the secret of Tony Stark’s parents’ death. After he revealed that secret to Tony in Captain America: Civil War, he was able to lift the hammer and even summon it in Avengers: Endgame.
We thought the conflict of Civil War was about the Sokovia Accords, but when a heartbroken Tony looked at Steve and asked him, “Did you know?,” the movie became about something else entirely. “I didn’t know it was him.” “Don’t s**t me, Rogers. Did you know?” After a long pause, Steve said, “Yes.” Steve even confessed later that while he convinced himself he was holding onto the secret to protect Tony, he was really holding onto it to protect himself.
1 “Oh, God.”
The end of Avengers: Infinity War is often called a cliffhanger, but it’s not a cliffhanger. It’s a definitive ending to a movie’s plot; it’s just not the ending we were hoping for. It’s not the ending the Avengers were hoping for, either. The bad guy won. Earth’s mightiest heroes were defeated for the first time ever.
Kudos to the Russo brothers for giving their flagship character, the one who brought them into the MCU in the first place, Steve Rogers, the final line in the movie. As he realizes he lost, sitting in the pile of dust that used to be his best friend, Steve simply says, “Oh, God.” We know that this is a big deal because old-fashioned goody-two-shoes Steve Rogers would never take the Lord’s name in vain unless it was really serious.