AVENGERS: ENDGAME is now in theaters and it’s incredible. It not only concludes the MCU’s overarching narrative thus far but also wraps up some arcs for several characters. One such character, Steve Rogers, gets one of the most satisfying and fulfilling character arcs ever. Let’s look at Captain America’s ENDGAME fate and why it’s the best path possible for him and for us: his fans.

Captain America’s ENDGAME Fate: Unable to Move On

When ENDGAME begins, the Avengers rally to go after Thanos. The plan? Get the Infinity Stones from Thanos to bring everyone back. The problem? Thanos destroyed the Stones, making his actions permanent. Thor kills Thanos, and the Avengers go home, unable to avenge.

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Entertainment

5 years have passed, and the first thing we see is a changing world. For Steve, this means leading a support group for those who are struggling to move on after the Decimation. He tries to help them move as best he can, encouraging them to keep going out and to try to find new meaning. However, when he returns to the Avengers compound, he tells Natasha that just like her, he’s unable to move on. He’s struggling just as much as anyone else.

It makes sense. Ever since the FIRST AVENGER, Cap has always done what he believes is right, and it usually pays off with a victory and saving the day, no matter the personal cost like in WINTER SOLIDER or CIVIL WAR. However, this time they lost. He did everything he could to lead the Avengers on Earth in INFINITY WAR, but Thanos still won. He gave it his all. A crushing and personal defeat like that is bound to leave a permanent toll on Steve even 5 years later.

Leading the Charge for Hope and Reconciliation

After Ant-Man gets out of the Quantum Realm and catches up with all the devastation, he goes to see the Avengers. When he tells them he may know of a way to go back in time via the Quantum Realm and bring everyone back, it gives Steve hope. He takes Scott and Natasha to see Tony, who might be able to figure out how to navigate through. When he refuses to help, Steve doesn’t give up. They went to see Bruce Banner for help. Banner’s help is less than helpful (he ends up aging and de-aging Scott on accident) Tony thankfully shows up having figured out how to travel back in time.

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Entertainment

Tony and Steve talk, and Tony shares about resentment being corrosive. They put their differences behind them, reconciling their issues from CIVIL WAR. As a result, Tony returns to Steve his shield. Now, they work to reunite all of the Avengers together. Steve is ready to lead the charge back in time to make things right.

Some Decent Baggage Between Tony and Steve

It’s cool that Tony and Steve resolve their past conflict. At the start of the film, Tony is especially angry with Steve, reminding him that he warned all of the Avengers about what was coming way back in AGE OF ULTRON. That film was the beginnings of their contradicting viewpoints. While Tony makes a good point in wanting to put a suit of armor around the world to protect from future threats, Steve disagrees. In his mind, every time someone tries to win a war before it starts innocent people die, and he tells this to Tony.

Throw in their opposite stances about the Sokovia Accords, Steve’s omission that his best friend Bucky is responsible for the deaths of Tony’s parents, and now the fact that a suit of armor around the world could have potentially made a difference, and you can see how much Tony and Steve are willing to put behind them. You can also see how genuinely glad Steve is about it too, and not just that Tony is willing to help with the time travel. He’s glad to have a friend back.

Hail Hydra

The Avengers split into teams, going to different points in time to get all the Stones. Steve goes with Tony, Scott, and Banner back to 2012. In 2012, the Space, Time, and Mind Stone are all in New York so they travel back to the Battle of New York, using the battle as the perfect smokescreen to grab the Stones. Steve grabs the Mind Stone in an elevator. Not only that, the elevator is full of secret Hydra agents within SHIELD. Not only that, but Steve knows that they’re Hydra as he will beat the crap out of them in a different elevator two years later in 2014’s WINTER SOLDIER. It was a wonderful callback to the Russos’ earlier film as they also directed that film, providing another great component to Captain America’s ENDGAME fate.

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Comics

However, instead of beating them up again (before?), He acts as though he’s Hydra and he’s able to just take the Mind Stone from them. It’s super awesome and is also an Easter Egg to the controversial SECRET EMPIRE comic event where Captain America becomes a sleeper Hydra agent. It’s so cool. Even cooler is right after he leaves the elevator he has to fight his past self who thinks he’s Loki!

Learning From Past Mistakes

In the midst of that fight, It’s impressive to see how he defeats his past self. There’s a moment where past-Steve gets him in a chokehold. To get out of it, Steve tells him that Bucky is alive. It gives past-Steve pause, as it’s new information to him, giving Steve time to knock him out. Beyond being a cool moment, it also shares with us that Steve learns from his mistakes.

Back in CIVIL WAR, Crossbones told Steve that he knew where Bucky was, and it got in Steve’s head, making him pause. Now, Steve uses that mistakes to his advantage, knowing that his past self would likewise hesitate. There’s so many great callbacks to Steve’s MCU history that come to play. Whether they’re big ones or smaller like this one, they’re all used to great effect in wrapping up his arc.

Seeing Peggy

While Steve and Banner have been successful in getting their Stones, Tony and Scott fail to get the Space Stone. So, they find a new window to get the Stone in 1970, allowing them to also get more Pym particles to jump back to the present. Tony gets to meet and talk to his father while looking for the Stone. Meanwhile, while looking for Pym particles, Steve sees Peggy through an office window.

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Entertainment

This is huge. Already before this point, we’ve seen Steve’s compass that holds Peggy’s picture in it a couple of times. He’s had it with him since the FIRST AVENGER. He’s missed her so much. While he did get to spend some time with her in WINTER SOLIDER, it was at the end of her life. She even passes away in CIVIL WAR. So, instead of spending his life with her, he was only there for the end of her’s. Now, Peggy, the love of his life, is right there. When he sacrificed himself in WWII, he also sacrificed his chance at a life with Peggy, who was saving him a dance.

You can imagine how hard it must have been to see her, alive and well, and yet being unable to talk to her due to his duty as a hero not allowing him to stay. She still has a photo of Steve before the serum on her desk from THE FIRST AVENGER. It’s essentially par for the course for Steve. He sacrifices his personal desires and what would be easier for the greater good and protection of the world. There’s also a great allusion to what’s to come for Captain America’s ENDGAME fate. Once they get the particles and the Stone, Tony and Steve rejoin the other Avengers in the present.

He’s Worthy and Thor Knew It

The Avengers uses the Stones, but right after it happens, Thanos from the past firebombs the compound. The destruction scatters the team. Thanos himself waits among the rubble for Cap, Tony, and Thor to meet him in battle. They fight bravely and epically, but the Mad Titan eventually gets the upper hand. He pins Thor, about to plunge Stormbreaker into his chest. At that moment, Thor’s hammer lifts up from the ground where it was knocked aside. However, instead of flying to Thor’s hand, the hammer flies to Steve!! What!?

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Comics

Thor claims that he knew it all along, the “it” being that Captain America is worthy of wielding Mjolnir! Using both a shield and a hammer, Steve goes hard on Thanos, hitting him again and again in the coolest way anyone could have ever imagined or hoped for. I lost my mind as did several others in the theater. Even though there is a comics precedent for it, I don’t think anyone saw that one coming! It’s like this undeniable fact proving that Captain America is one of the coolest, strongest, and most heroic Avengers ever! It was the exclamation point in the final sentence of the book that is Captain America’s ENDGAME fate.

Captain America’s ENDGAME Fate: Avengers… Assemble!

As if wielding Mjolnir wasn’t enough, it was only a few seconds later when Steve got another amazing beat. Thanos pummels Steve, breaking his shield in half. His army arrives on the ground, and Steve is alone. He stands back up, tightens his shield, ready to take it all on if not for chatter on his comm. Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon!

“On your left…”

It’s then that a portal opens up, letting Black Panther, Shuri, and Okoye through. Sam flies through, then the Wakandan army. Several more portals open and we see the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Bucky, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, Wong and several sorcerers, Wasp, Pepper Potts in an iron suit, Valkyrie, Miek, Korg, Asgardians, Ravagers, Ant-Man, Hulk, War Machine, and Rocket, and Hawkeye also emerge from the rubble.

Captain America's ENDGAME Fate
Image from Marvel Entertainment

It’s at those moments that Captain America says the words we were denied in AGE OF ULTRON. These are the words he was always meant to say made all the more when the hammer flies into his hand:

“Avengers…Assemble.”

Then they charge Thanos’ forces, and the most epic battle of all cinematic history begins, making Marvel fans cry with delight across the globe. If the hammer scene was the exclamation point for Captain America’s ENDGAME fate, saying those words is the second exclamation point. That shield is so symbolic, so when it shatters, it’s like hope has as well. However, it’s still Cap. Even if the rest of Avengers hadn’t shown up, he still would’ve tightened that strap, and fought Thanos’ whole army until he couldn’t get back up. There’s no doubt about it. It’s an amazingly personal and heroic moment for Cap, but all the better when his friends and allies rally behind him. Sorry, on his left!

Retirement and Passing On The Mantle

When the battle is all said and done, the Avengers rebuild, find new paths, and mourn the dead. Specifically for Steve, that means taking the Stones back to where they got them from so as to not create doomed branch timelines. While Steve was supposed to come back to the present in 5 seconds, he doesn’t show. Banner, Bucky, and Sam were waiting for him, and there’s initial confusion. They then see Steve off to the side, sitting on the bench. Bucky tells Sam to go to him, where Sam discovers that Steve is now an old man.

Steve reveals that he stayed in the past to live some of that life Tony was talking about. Steve then gives the shield to Sam, wanting him to be the new Captain America. Sam says he’ll do his best, and Steve says he has no doubt that he will. With that, the mantle is passed, and the Captain America theme from the FIRST AVENGER plays. Sam then notices that Steve is wearing a wedding ring. When he asks if Steve is going to tell him about her, Steve declines.

When Sam gets the shield, he says it feels like it’s someone else’s. That feeling makes sense. Again, that shield and the guy who wields it is so symbolic for hope, freedom, and unwavering justice. There’s no way Sam would or should be taking that shield with passive acceptance. There’s a lot of responsibility and purpose behind the shield. Even better is when Steve tells him that it’s not. It’s now Sam’s. No question in his mind.

Captain America’s ENDGAME Fate: Finally Finding Happiness

We then cut back to the past. Looking through the window of a white house, we see Steve finally giving that dance he promised to Peggy before he went into the ice. They both look so happy, and that’s how this wonderful movie ends: giving the hero who’s known nothing but sacrifice, happiness with the love of his life. This is Captain America’s ENDGAME fate. It was a dream I had as a Captain America fan that I never thought would come true.

CAPTAIN AMERICA ENDGAME
Image from USA Today

Not only that, but there are so many moments that call back to moments in his past, both big and small that make this end even better. Having his compass, reconciling with Tony, dealing with Hydra agents, fighting himself, seeing Peggy, wielding the hammer and assembling the Avengers. Passing the shield and being with Peggy. All of these Cap moments and more are all incredibly perfect. Some of these moments didn’t need to happen to make his arc good.

However, them being there makes his arc great. I thought for sure Steve was going to die. God bless the Russo Bros. for giving one of my favorite Avengers the most perfect resolution I could ever ask for of so many levels. If you’re a Cap fan, go see ENDGAME a million times. This one is his swan song.

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