Avengers: Endgame looked like it was about to be wrapped up in a neat little bow in its closing moments. Thanos was defeated, superhero faves had perished and been mourned, and the fallen had been snapped into existence once more. Time to get back to normal, and push on with MCU instalments 23-???.
Meanwhile, Steve Rogers pops off with his Pym particles to put the Infinity Stones back where they belong, along with Mjolnir (if you think anyone here is over the sight of Captain America wielding that hammer against Thanos, we can assure you we’re not) and the “go with it” mechanics of Endgame‘s time travel plot fall neatly into place.
And then they don’t.
Bucky spots an elderly Steve, complete with a rather fresh-looking shield, waiting patiently on a nearby bench, ready to be all mysterious in one final head-scratching scene for audiences everywhere.
In a new interview with EW, Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo confirm that Steve did indeed go back to create and live in a different reality separate from our main timeline, and that the team behind the film deliberately set this up to generate a whole slew of questions.
“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?” Joe Russo asked with a smile. “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.”
It does feel like a tease for a future Marvel movie, and the Russos go on to reveal that Bucky Barnes did know more than he was letting on when he bid farewell to Steve before all this went down, becoming about as emotional as the character gets, even though his best friend was only supposed to be gone for a few seconds.
“Especially when he says goodbye,” explained Joe. “He says, ‘I’ll miss you.’ Clearly he knows something.”
One of the most compelling possibilities that can be drawn from this scene is that in the future we could see a Marvel movie come to fruition where just about everything is different. Cap stops all the bad things from the main timeline happening in his branched reality, causing other events to take place instead. Could that new timeline include some very familiar mutants? Or could a certain Fantastic group take charge of protecting the Earth from incoming threats?
Are we about to see the birth of a very different MCU? Or will all this be swept under the rug for now?
We’re interested to hear your thoughts.