The Avengers couldn't stop Thanos from snapping his fingers in Infinity War, but Captain America managed to grab onto his gauntlet and stop him with his bare hands... right? At long last, the writer of Avengers: Endgame has finally explained what was really happening in that iconic moment.
From the moment trailers showed a glimpse of the standoff--Thanos trying to crush a bearded Captain America, Steve grabbing pushing back, and Thanos responding with a puzzled look--fans spun theories to explain what could actually be happening. Even for a super soldier, holding back the strength of Thanos wielding the Power Stone should be impossible. So is Steve Rogers' own willpower to thank, or did he actually make Thanos feel fear? Unfortunately for Cap fans, neither is the real answer.
While speaking with THR about a variety of fan theories and lingering questions concerning Avengers: Endgame, the question of Steve's actual strength and durability was raised with co-writer Christopher Markus. The question of how Captain America could lift Mjolnir has been answered, and apparently Steve Rogers but when it comes to the other time Steve shocked audiences with his superhuman might... Markus explains that it didn't have anything to do with his 'worthiness' at all:
I think in that moment, Thanos is impressed by Steve's will. He's like, 'I can't believe this guy who apparently has no powers is trying this.' He's almost like, 'Really? Really?'
That should settle the fan debates and theories, and all things considered, the explanation is probably the simplest and cleanest. Steve Rogers was trying with all his strength and courage to hold back a cosmic conqueror, and succeeded in making said Titan pause. Not from being resisted, but out of sheer confusion that a mere mortal could think it possible. A moment some might see as a letdown now that they know the truth. But on a much deeper level, that's exactly what makes Captain America special in the MCU.
Almost all of the other 'superpowered' Avengers have something to give them an edge when entering a fight against supervillains born of stronger stuff. Thor was born a godlike warrior, and commands the storm. Bruce Banner uses his form as the Hulk to grant him enhanced strength and durability on par with Thanos, one of the most physically powerful beings in the universe. And Tony Stark has used his mind to fortify his body to greater and greater levels. But Steve Rogers? When he sees a bullet or a bomb greater than his understanding hurtling towards his friends, he doesn't conjure a spell, transform, or deploy a gadget... he throws his body between it and them. Even if he's swatted away by Thanos a moment later, it's not the kind of act that's easily forgotten.
Even if the explanation straight from Markus puts an end to fan theories (also claiming that "Steve would be toast" if he tried to use the gauntlet), it creates yet another direct link between Infinity War and Endgame. The first time Steve faced down Thanos, the villain was puzzled such an insignificant being could think itself worthy of standing against him. The second time, Steve's worthiness made him master of a power beyond Thanos' understanding.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019