WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME! DO NOT CONTINUE UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN IT!
The time-travelling plot of Avengers: Endgame is not exactly what you would call easy to follow. Thanks to the Marvel superhero team’s plan to travel back in time and steal the Infinity Stones before uber-villain Thanos ever got his hands on them – so that they could return to the present and use them to undo Thanos’ decimation before putting the stones back in their original times – going horribly wrong, we’re left with either a bunch of chronal paradoxes or a whole bunch of alternate realities that don’t make sense. Either way, it goes all wibbly wobbly timey wimey. That’s Doctor Who for “very messy plot holes”.
One of these apparent plot holes surrounds Steve Rogers aka Captain America’s decision to not return to the present after he puts back the Infinity Stones, but rather to meet up with the love of his life, Peggy Carter, in the 1940s. By the time we see him again in the present, he’s grown into a very old man and he’s sporting a wedding band. While he’s coy to talk about his wife, it’s almost certain he’s referring to Peggy, but that raises the question of whether Steve had just created another chronal plot hole – or alternate reality, at best – by changing the past to be with her? It seems though that Steve being around in the past may not be a plot hole after all, but may actually be solving a years-long MCU mystery.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was penned by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the same writing duo who wrote all Steve Rogers’ solo movies as well as Infinity War and Endgame), Steve visits the Captain America museum. Here we see an interview with Peggy Carter recorded in 1953 in which she reveals that before he got lost in the ice in 1945, Steve saved the life of a man that would eventually become her husband. “Even after he died, he was still changing my life,” Peggy remarks. This mysterious man doesn’t show up in any pics we ever see of Peggy’s past nor is he mentioned again – we do see that they had two children, but nothing further is known about him.
In the Agent Carter TV series (also created by Markus and McFeely), Peggy had a strong romantic connection with fellow Strategic Scientific Reserve Agent Daniel Souza, and it was thought that he would be revealed to be the man, but the timelines don’t match up. Daniel lost his leg and was discharged from the marines before Steve would pull off this so-called rescue and we’ve seen no other suitors. So who was this man?
Well, the answer that makes the most sense right now is that it was actually Steve. After all, him choosing to go back in time to “get a life” could be viewed as him saving himself. It isn’t a plot hole and there are no alternate realities because he was actually always meant to go back and live with Peggy – he’s completing his own time loop.
As the scene in the clip above moves on to the modern day where Steve attends the bedside of an older, sickly Peggy, there’s nothing in their dialogue that actually contradicts this. In fact, some of Peggy’s dialogue actually could be sly winks to the knowledge that she had of what was still to come for him.
The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best and sometimes the best we can do is to start over.
Even when the elderly Peggy suffers a brief dementia episode, her exclaiming him to have returned to her could actually be referring to his post-Endgame self’s time-travel return.
Just over a week ago, a huge number of Avengers: Endgame leaks hit the web, including a detailed breakdown of several scenes. However, not all of these leaked scenes were actually in the movie. One of these actually fits in perfectly with this theory, expanding on it to reveal way more info (via BGR).
Cap visits Peggy’s grave and Fury appears behind him, says he was told to give this to Cap when the time is right and that he thinks it’s right. It’s a letter from Peggy.
She apologizes for not being able to tell him before but that the world needed Cap first, but now that he’s saved the world it’s time to come home. She says he knows where to meet her. Cap is kind of confused and Fury says “She always was a mystery when it came to her private life.” Cap understands and tells Fury to call if he’s ever needed. He later says goodbye to Bucky and Sam and jokes that Bucky can’t have his suit because “I don’t think I’m quite done with it yet.”
Cap goes back in time and shows up at the dance hall. Peggy is waiting for him. She shows him how to dance slowly and then asks if he can keep up. “I could do this all day.” are the final words from Cap in the movie.
Now it has to be pointed out that there actually a lot of these leaked scenes that either got things very wrong or didn’t appear outright. However, they could have come from earlier drafts of the script or from deleted scenes. We still don’t know the origin of these leaks so we don’t know how viable they were.
What this particular scene reinforces though is the theory that Steve and Peggy had a secret life together. Yes, Steve was literally the poster boy of the US war effort in WWII so he should have been instantly recognizable, but Peggy was a brilliant spy. I’m sure she could have whipped up something to keep her beau incognito. Speaking of spies, there’s the far more ickier problem of Peggy’s great-niece Sharon Carter who Steve had a minor relationship with in the modern day. Let’s forget about the familial issues for now (Steve didn’t know who Sharon was at the time), but rather ask how Sharon could not have recognized that her Captain America looks a whole lot like her Aunt Peggy’s husband?
I’m willing to bet cold hard cash that there was one person who did know about Steve hiding out in the past though. I’ve watched Endgame twice now, and the second time all but officially confirmed something for me: Bucky knows. Endgame is surprisingly light on interaction between Steve and James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, his erstwhile childhood friend who was also lost during WWII only to surface decades later as the Winter Soldier, an amnesiac assassin who was kept alive with periodic bouts of cryo-stasis over the years.
Just before Steve uses the quantum time machine in Endgame to return the Stones to the past though, he shares a moment with Bucky that looks awfully final. Bucky is all wistful stares and emotional goodbyes as he tells Steve he’s going to miss him, despite the fact that Steve is supposed to return in 5 seconds. And when Steve doesn’t, he certainly doesn’t look surprised. Even when Old Man Steve shows up, Bucky seems almost content rather than shocked that he’s seeing his friend again. So yes, while the “how?” is still a mystery – maybe they had run-ins while Bucky was still brainwashed by Hydra – I’m convinced Bucky knows that Steve went back in time to spend out his days in secret with Peggy.
Or all of these things are just giant coincidences and Markus and McFeely did in fact just write a script with giant plot holes big enough to hurl a vibranium shield through.
Last Updated: April 30, 2019