Warning: Contains Spoilers
Given that it feels like there’s about six endings in Avengers: Endgame, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused as to how it all wraps up.
I certainly did but that’s because I had something in my eye so I couldn’t see properly. I definitely wasn’t bawling my eyes out for the last half hour.
The more observant (and unemotional) among us, however, have picked up on a few details that raised more questions than the film answered.
If you’ve not seen it, there are some major spoilers here on in…
This particular question pertains to Captain America’s final mission, at the very end of the film, to return all the Infinity Stones (and Thor’s Mjölnir hammer) back to their rightful places and times.
This is because – as the Ancient One told Hulk when he collected the Time Stone – if the stones aren’t returned to the right place and time, new and alternate timelines will be created, giving us myriad realities and possibilities.
So the Hulk knows this needs to happen, and entrusts Cap to do it. Cap can take as long as he likes to complete the mission, but when he returns it will seem as if he’s only been gone a few seconds.
As we see however, Cap doesn’t return as the Hulk intended. Instead, after (we assume) completing the mission, Cap decides to go back to his beloved Peggy and live out a normal life with her and grow old. He then appears on a bench, with his shield, as an old man just after young Cap has nipped into the quantum realm.
It’s a fitting finale for the First Avenger, and a surprising, touching end to the film as a whole. However, as some fans will have noticed, the fact that Cap doesn’t return as Hulk intended, means he has created another timeline – albeit a seemingly peaceful one – or has been living in the past this whole time.
It turns out, this little detail from Endgame is an intentional mystery from the Russo brothers, as it leaves open future stories.
As Joe Russo told EW:
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.
The brothers also confirmed that Bucky knew what Cap was going to do, as they give each other a hefty farewell for a trip that’s only supposed to last a few seconds. Turns out, Bucky had a feeling his besty from Brooklyn was going to go and live in the past.
As Joe added:
[Bucky] says ‘I’ll miss you’. Clearly he knows something.
It could be the Russo brothers are setting up the Falcon and Winter Soldier series, which is in the pipeline for the Disney+ service.
After all, when old man Cap gives Falcon the shield at the end of Endgame, Falcon says it feels like someone else’s. Cap simply replies: ‘It isn’t.’ Of course, this could mean ‘it’s yours now’, or it could just be the truth – in the branched reality, does the shield actually belong to Falcon, because of a story we haven’t seen yet? Cap’s shield was shredded in Endgame, don’t forget…
The question then would be – why has old man Cap now brought the shield to the current timeline?
Also (last one, I promise), Falcon notices the Cap’s wedding ring on his finger, and asks if Cap will tell him about her. Cap replies: ‘No, no I don’t think I will.’
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peggy has an acknowledged but unidentified secret husband. Could it be that Cap found his way back to the ‘correct’ timeline, and lived out his days in the shadows as Peggy’s secret husband, while the other Cap goes about all the Avengers missions?
So many questions, so many possible answers. This is what happens when you mess with time travel!
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.