SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned!
(To all the people who say “read the comics,” this is specifically about the MCU, thank you!)
Avengers: Endgame came out a few weeks ago and it broke records. It brought the end of many threads within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with the end of some characters and/or arcs. And while it made many ooh and ahh, it left a good number of people scratching their heads. And I’m not just talking about the time travel shenanigans–it’s more than that. A few character ends left much to be desired. One of which is Steve Rogers, aka Captain America’s, ending.
After the film came out, many users went to Twitter and used the hashtag #notmysteve because of how dissatisfied they were with his characterization in the film. Many talked about how his motivations felt like they negated all of his build-up over all the movies and you know what? I totally agree.
Does platonic love not have any meaning or something? Did Steve REALLY need to leave his friends behind for the one romantic interest he had? Did his friendships w/ Bucky, Sam, Wanda, Thor, etc have no impact? Someone dropped the ball w/ Steve’s character development #notmysteve pic.twitter.com/qyby4qTT6a
— knee-cole (@ohmystarsss) May 13, 2019
— Tom || Endgame Rage & Salt 💖💜💙 (@Defiler_Wyrm) April 27, 2019
I’m so pissed at the ending of endgame (obviouslyspoilers you’ve been warned) It was totally out of character for Steve to do something like that. And he would never leave Bucky behind or let him rot in hydra if he had known. He’s known buck basically his whole life #notmysteve
— Jenna (@Jenna_Mae_L) April 27, 2019
Now, this is in no way to criticize Chris Evans, his acting, or anything about him. Evans is fantastic and I adore him. This is all about how his character was written and how after so many years and so many films, the abrupt and uncomfortable ending of Captain America’s arc felt like a punch in the face. Not only do I believe that it doesn’t make sense in a time travel way (time travel is always complicated), it feels like it does Cap and all of his relationships a disservice.
I also don’t mean to say that Steve doesn’t deserve a happy ending. Of course, he does. But the way they write that ending matters. I would love a happy ending for Steve Rogers, out of all of the characters of the MCU he’s probably one of the most deserving of a good ending. I’m not saying he shouldn’t get one in this article, I’m saying that the ending they wrote for him felt questionable and like it directly goes against everything they built up for him.
#Endgamespoilers It's not about whether Steve deserves a happy ending–he does!–it's about if the ending they gave him fits. It doesn't make sense with the parameters established for time travel or for him to sit by while his bff gets tortured for 7+ decades. #NotMySteve
— Saasan (@decidedlysarah) April 30, 2019
At the heart of all this is: Cap wouldn’t have just jumped back in time and chosen to remain there. And there are several reasons I believe why.
First, the time travel aspect. I’m no time travel expert nor do I know enough about the science of it to be able to talk about this at length but the time loop confuses me. He travels back to be with Peggy while there’s already a Steve in the ice at that point? Is it another multiverse’s Peggy? If so, does that universe have a Steve? So Steve from the prime timeline ended up with another timeline’s Peggy? And he somehow grew old enough in the timeline where they did reverse the damage Thanos did to be able to pass on the shield?
— Andrew Auger (@DREWAUGER95) May 18, 2019
It’s dizzying and confusing. Maybe old-Steve time traveled again to hand over the shield at that exact moment? But still, we’re not sure what happened except that there’s a Steve in the ice when our Steve rolls up at Peggy’s for a dance, marries her, and then comes back. It feels a little strange to think about, that a Steve out of his timeline goes to a Peggy from a different one when that timeline’s Steve is still underwater with the tesseract.
It feels like it doesn’t follow its own internal time travel logic. And that sort of defeats the purpose of having internal time travel logic. Time travel as a plot device also feels like someone forced the writers’ hands, especially when it wasn’t present before.
Next, it backtracks everything he’s done. All the moving forward he’s done, the adjusting to being out of time, taking notes of things. Some of his approaches to coping with being in a new time were comical but they were exactly that, actions to move forward, to adjust, to move on. Did we just forget Peggy’s speech to him in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Where she talks about moving on and not being able to go back? What happened to that?
Maybe it can be argued that somehow a believable regression happened in the 5 years after the snap but it doesn’t show it, it just tells us that haphazardly with him mooning over his photo of her again, something he hasn’t done in so long because he’s been moving forward. This is not to say he no longer loves Peggy or grieves her, he’s allowed to like we all are, but it seemed like such a step backward to have the writers plant this seed again and for Cap to be focused on her again when he’d lost the people in his present who he grew to love.
Also, if he does go back in time, are we supposed to forget that he kissed Sharon Carter–the girl who would’ve become his niece? That’s just weird. Which is why I don’t buy the idea that they’d been planning this all along. It seems like a convenient way to end his arc, but it’s too abrupt and not fleshed out enough. If they wanted to keep that, then it looks to me to be a progressive move forward, away from that past, and into the present. So their claim that they planned to do it from the beginning is shaky at best.
Next: Bucky. Steve would not go into the past and stay there fully knowing Bucky is suffering for decades. Look at his motivation in The Winter Soldier and Civil War. It’s centered on getting his best friend back. He’s so desperate because they’re friends ’til the end of the line, their bond is unbreakable, it even snaps Bucky out of his HYDRA brainwash long enough to question who “the man on the bridge” was. His platonic love for Bucky is so strong and he would NOT allow him to suffer all those years so he can settle down and have a family with someone.
Maybe he did go out and stop the bad things from happening to his best friend but it’s not mentioned or shown. The Bucky in the film’s timeline is still the same, still has the metal arm, still the same guy who had to go through all that. He’s also a man out of time. Would Steve have just let that happen to him so he could be with Peggy? It doesn’t make sense to me with how there were three whole films showing us how close they were, how he would’ve moved mountains to get his friend back after losing him again and again and again. He wouldn’t choose to lose him purposefully this time around, not when he had to watch him wither away during the snap, something that was shot so that one of each person’s most important counterpart had to watch them fade.
And when Bucky came back after everyone was restored, they didn’t even interact. Most everyone else got their emotional reunion but the two of them? Barely anything. It’s like the writers were afraid to make them too close after having so many films where they’re best friends. Steve didn’t even talk about him during that support group about the snap. That was poor writing, in my opinion. Bucky’s loss is supposed to be a colossal one given all that has transpired on screen with the other films so the way they wrote Cap in this film is so flat and disappointing.
Moreover, this is just a hypothesis but he possibly knows Natasha is suffering, too. And, same with Bucky, he won’t do anything? I don’t buy it. Natasha’s past is only hinted at in the MCU so far but in the comics, she’s a Russian spy in the Black Widow program, being groomed to kill. She’s tortured, brainwashed, and used over and over–like Bucky. I feel like Steve would know this part of her by now given how close they became throughout the films.
If she opened up to Steve about her past it meant he knew what was going on while he was spending his time with Peggy. And it’s not his responsibility to save everyone, of course, but it’s not in his character to just let it happen while he sits idly by knitting beside Peggy Carter. This part isn’t confirmed of course, MCU Nat may have never opened up about her past, but if she did, he’s also abandoning her and that doesn’t sound like him. Sacrifice is at his core. Selflessness is his most defining trait. He wouldn’t have let his friends suffer knowingly.
Also, his relationship with the Avengers is so important. Each of them has become family to him and found family is so so important. So I really can’t buy the idea that he’d throw away a present being with them to travel back in time. Fine, true love is strong, all that, but his platonic relationships are so important to him. He loves his family, I can’t see him abandoning them.
It also calls the canon of Agent Carter in question by shoehorning a move like this. She says in CATWS that her regret is that he didn’t get to live his life? She lived a life, why erase all that with time travel? Doesn’t that put her agency at risk, her own moving forward and coping, how Cap saved the man who would eventually become her husband? This is not to say that Cap going back in time erases her agency, it’s just a possibility that all of what made her powerful and a strong character in Agent Carter could be swept aside for a life with Steve, someone who she thought she lost and moved on from.
Because, think about it, even in the movie, she doesn’t speak. She isn’t seen as anything else except Steve’s love interest the way they frame her in the movie. She’s the founder of SHIELD, a celebrated agent, and an exceedingly intelligent woman. But the way they frame her? Steve’s lost love interest. When she’s on screen we don’t even hear her speak. I would’ve liked to hear her running SHIELD, I would’ve liked to see that, but instead, we see her from Cap’s gaze where she doesn’t talk. Even when they dance, she has no speaking lines. It feels like they strip her importance while simultaneously making her so important to Steve, and that’s problematic, too. It’s like they’re saying look! She’s so pivotal to this! But no, you won’t get to hear her talk.
Avengers: Endgame wasn’t a perfect movie and it had its flaws but it was still entertaining. Still, I can’t deny that many aspects of it I had problems with. I wish they’d taken the time to really flesh out Captain America again and track his progress through the years. It just feels like they backpedaled on everything without any good reason aside from the emotional punch of seeing a Cap and Peggy reunion.
Cap deserves better. (And so does Nat–you can read about that here: Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, deserves better)
What do you think? Let us know!