Joe Russo Ensures Captain America Will Never Escape His Confusing Avengers: Endgame Finale

Two years after the fact, the Russo brothers are still trying to explain their own decisions in Avengers: Endgame, because of course they are.


Avengers: Endgame had a lot going on. This isn't news to anyone--the MCU Phase 3 finale was responsible for wrapping up a whole slew of character threads and plotlines as many of Marvel Studios' A-list stars finished their contracts and stepped aside from their decade-long commitments as major characters in the franchise. For some, like Tony Stark, this meant dying in an extremely straightforward way. For others, like Steve Rogers, things were significantly more convoluted.

In case you need a refresher, the ending of Steve Rogers' journey in the MCU involved time traveling back to the 1940s to finally get that dance he was promised with Peggy Carter way back in Captain America: The First Avenger. Then, after apparently having led a full life entirely off screen, he comes back to the present to hand off the shield to Sam Wilson and, presumably, either go back to his life in the past or, you know, die or something. We can't really say. Written out in so few words, it might actually sound kind of straightforward--the whole "go back in time to reconnect with a lost love" trope happens on the semi-regular, after all--but Endgame's own internal time travel logic (and Steve Rogers' story through the other six MCU movies he was in before Endgame) provoked some big questions about timeline paradoxes and basic character development.

Things got infinitely worse in the weeks after Endgame's release when, for some reason, the Russos took to the media and tried to offer their own explanations for what happened, contradicting the film's writers and citing internal logic that was never presented in the movies. The whole situation became a months-long debacle where the filmmakers desperately tried to assure fans that, no, really, their confusion wasn't justified because it actually made sense, all they needed to do was stop thinking about what was actually in the movie and instead listen to what the directors were saying.

Now, two years after the fact, it would seem the Russos are not done trying to clarify their own creative decisions. In an interview with the Lights, Camera, Barstool podcast, reported by CinemaBlend, Joe Russo offered this missing context: "One thing that's clear that Anthony and I have discussed, I don't know that we've discussed this publicly at all, Cap would have had to have traveled back to the main timeline. That's something that, yes, he would have been in a branch reality, but he would have to travel back to the main timeline to give that shield to Sam Wilson."

How, exactly, this would have happened is a mystery--Steve's venturing back in time to replace the Infinity Stones was, in theory, meant to prevent the creation of branched realities, and the technology he took with him, again in theory, ought to have prevented him from somehow hopscotching around different realities--but that, apparently doesn't matter.

Joe continues, explaining that in their "internal logic" (read: logic not visible to viewers of the film), this was what happened, and it was decided on "in the room" as the movie was made. This is a bit funny considering the writers who were presumably also "in the room" didn't get this memo based on their own post-release interviews. In these interviews, they explained that rather than creating an alternate reality, there would have simply been two different Steve Rogers existing simultaneously for a while in a new version of the timeline we'd already experienced in other MCU movies.

At the end of the day, none of this actually matters because the reality we're all in, alternate or otherwise, likely will not see Chris Evans return to the MCU, no matter what rumors are out there--and there's been confirmation straight from the man himself. The Russos' insistence on trying to clarify their own creative decisions two years after the fact won't change the fact that every fan who felt invested in Captain America's MCU journey will have a completely different read on what actually happened. And upcoming shows like The Falcon & The Winter Soldier will most likely not address it at all. Steve's story has amounted to an exit, a symbolic gesture, and a mantle being passed. The details can be whatever you want them to be, regardless of what the directors say.

Literally or figuratively, the Captain America we knew is dead. Long live Captain America.

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