Avengers: Endgame Falls Short With Captain America’s Ending

This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2019)

Avengers: Endgame has been called a worthy conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ten-year saga. The film is a critical and financial success, but it has its issues. One of which is the ultimate fate of Captain America.

After the film’s main conflict is over, Captain America is given the task of delivering the  Infinity Stones back to their original timelines to set things right. He stands on the time machine. The Hulk says he’ll bring back Captain America in five seconds. It does not happen. Instead Bucky looks at a bench in front of them. There’s an elderly Captain America sitting on it. It turns out he stayed in the past and lived out his life with Peggy. He give his shield to Sam to pass on his legacy to his sidekick.

The scene worked on one level. Captain America tragically missed out on the love of his life by being a hero. He gets what he always wanted in this ending. It’s emotionally satisfying to see him dance with Peggy and hand off his legacy to someone else.

Yet he had started a relationship with Sharon Carter in Captain America: Civil War. He had made friends in the present. His best pal, Bucky, had finally come back after he lost him again. Why was he going back to the past to retire with Peggy? It’s as if his character  lost any development he’d gained since coming out of the ice.

To add on to that, Falcon is his own man.  He was Captain America in the comics, but the MCU doesn’t have to follow that example. He should build a legacy of his own.

When I first watched the scene, I wondered why Cap didn’t stop the atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries. I didn’t understand how time worked in the MCU. I thought Captain America had always traveled back to the past to live with Peggy. He was stuck in a time-loop. Now I have come to understand that the MCU operates on a multiverse theory. This means that there are no time loops. The past can’t be changed so Cap can’t stop those atrocities. Every time a character travel back in time, it creates a new timeline.  The Russo brothers confirmed this in an interview.

Even taking into account this clarification on time travel, this ending for Captain America still has three major problems.

Problem #1: The Cap in the Ice

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The Russo Brothers confirmed that Captain America travels to another timeline to live with Peggy. The problem with this is there is already a Captain America in that timeline. He’s trapped in the ice. The MCU Captain America would have a moral obligation to save this other Captain. (Our Captain America will be referred to as MCU Cap and the other Captain America shall be refer from here on out) He understands the pain of not getting to be with Peggy. Why would he allow his past self to go through that pain when he’s unfrozen in seventy years? He couldn’t unless he was a jerk.

How would MCU Cap explain himself to Peggy? We’re not told if he tells her the truth about who he is. If he does, how can she be okay with him leaving his timeline to chase her? Wouldn’t she want him to go back to his friends and family in the future?  Wouldn’t she want her real Steve and not the MCU Cap who is essentially a doppelganger? If MCU Cap lies to Peggy and pretends to be her Steve, that is highly immoral.

Problem #2:  Unhealthy Escapism

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My favorite episode of Batman the Animated Series is Perchance to Dream. In the episode, Bruce Wayne ends up in another reality where his parents are alive and he’s engaged to Selina Kyle. He’s not Batman. It’s a dream come true. Eventually, Bruce figures out that it’s just a dream and he’s living a life of delusion. He refuses the world of dreams, because no matter how attractive it is, it’s not reality.

In this ending, Captain America chooses to live in a dream world. The Peggy that MCU Cap knows and loves is long dead. In the year 2023 (which Endgame takes place in), she’s been dead for almost ten years. Rather than move past her death and create a new relationship with Sharon, he’s heading to another reality where things are more comfortable for him. He’d rather live in the past than continue on in the future. The messages that this scene is sending are dangerous. Don’t move on, linger on the past forever. Don’t embrace reality, be delusional.

Problem #3: Not the Time for Retirement

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After Endgame, the world is in chaos. 3.5 billion people have reappeared after five years. This could create many problems for the world. Iron Man and Black Widow are dead. During this time of chaos, Captain America who is in the prime of his life, decides it’s time to retire to the past. Why now? The world still needs him. Why would Captain America even want to retire? He’s the man who says he could do this all day. There comes a time to rest but Cap is still able bodied. He was willing to stand against Thanos’s army by himself in Endgame. How is he a man who is ready for retirement? It doesn’t fit his character.

Final Thoughts

This ending sought to wrap up Captain America’s arc with a heart-warming callback to the origins of the character. In doing so, they undid everything that Captain America has learned during his journey through the MCU and turned him into a man who can’t let go of the past. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely referred to the conclusion of his arc as him moving toward “enlightened self-interest”. That’s a very sophisticated way of saying he becomes a selfish asshole. This is not the ending that such a great character deserves.

 

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Equality

“All men are created equal.”

Has a greater lie ever been told? If this isn’t the top one, it certainly makes the top ten list. Boy do they ever drill this one into your head. To jostle with this concept jostles the entire foundation of your morals and principles.

Not all men are created equal. Roll with me on this. I’ll show you.

Think right now. Two babies are being born. Both created through the same process. One is born the child of two musical artists, and the other born within a community of starving people. One will have cameras shoved in its face for its life. News sites everywhere will explode when information on the baby’s ridiculous name comes out. People at their jobs will joke around and make sarcastic remarks. The child will grow up not having to earn its living, nor work a job. Despite already having millions, people will toss money at the child to do its own albums when they are of age. There may be a movie made as a vehicle to turn this child into an ever bigger star. The world is thrown at this child’s feet. Their death is as huge news as their birth. People will mourn all over the country for the loss.

And the other will starve to death after two or three days because it was unfortunately born in the wrong place. Not a soul will even remember this baby ever existed.

The same process made them, but can you say they had equal lives? No, but maybe you say that’s not fair to equality. There is a huge discrepancy between a starving child and a famous baby. So here’s another.

Think up two babies again. Both white men. On the outside, they are similar. Both have brown hair, brown eyes. They live in the same town. They grew up together on the same block and went to the same public schools. Hell they might even like the same football team. But one of them has a mental illness. Why? Who knows. Maybe his mother stood too close to the microwave while pregnant. He struggles with it, going through therapy throughout his adolescence and taking daily medication. He has his bad days and his even worse days. He wakes up and doesn’t know how he’ll feel. He could be up, down, angry, sad, energetic, full of love, or suicidal. As he gets older, it worsens. He can’t maintain a serious relationship nor a job. He’s in and out of state help programs. His family loves him, but they don’t know what else to do. It’s a strain on all of them to help him cope well into his old age. The other with a sound mind moves forward. He has his own struggles as we all do, but he knows what he’ll be when he wakes up.

Same race, same town, same schooling, but very different lives, Are they equal? If so how? What does equal even mean? Trying to define the word is good way to give yourself a migraine especially when it comes to people. With mathematics and numbers, it’s fairly simple.

2=2 or 2+2=4

But once you add in people, it’s all messy. Look at this.

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Can you say that the two genders are equal? Your gut feeling says yes of course. But think of it logically. A woman can carry a new person in them for nine months.  We have different reproductive organs and internal make-ups. So then when we want to say the genders are equal, what are we talking about? On what scale do we consider people equal?

Not by weight. Not by height. Not by any sort of physical appearance. Not by wealth. Not by intelligence. Not by where you live or where you’ve been. Not by who your parents are or who you know.

Is it our potential? Our capacity to reason? These are the two that come closest in my humble opinion. We believe all people have potential and have a capacity to reason. So they should be treated the same. Although people say this, rarely are people treated equally.

Do you treat a homeless man asking for money the same as you would your father if he asked? No. They have the same want, similar biology, maybe even the same age. But for one, you keep moving on your way, trying hard not to make eye contact and for the other, you reach for your wallet. Because of your judgement.

When I think of equality, I think of any activist group, advocating for more rights for an oppressed minority. They all have the same mantra, we deserve this because humans are equal. Where did they get this idea from? I hope it wasn’t from the Declaration of Independence, written by a group of men who owned slaves. Slaves who according to these men were three-fifths people, the very antithesis of equal. Historically equality amongst all humanity hasn’t ever happened. Unless you go way back to before we could read and write. Those years that historians won’t ever be able to piece together. Maybe you could try and say before our brain developed into what it is today, we could have been equal. Were we equal as cavemen? Could we even grasp the concept then?

But to get back to those groups, I have a question.  Will these groups ever find the day that their work is done? When they can walk away knowing that equality has been achieved. Can it be achieved? Do we want to know the answer to that question?

If it can, then how? How can true equality be reached? Where all men and women regardless of who they are, what they look like, who they love or who they hate, have the same opportunities and are treated the same across the board?

That day can’t come. We are all different. We can’t be equal.

There’s this line in A Time to Kill that sums up this conundrum.

“When you look at me, you don’t see a man, you see a black man. “

We will never be another person to each other. Colorblindness is unachievable.  We see the differences and we judge. Even if we couldn’t see, we would judge based on our other senses. We categorize and adjust our responses accordingly. We want to put similar things together and separate them from the different. We are wired that way. Judgement is lodged into our brain.

Just like our illogical notion of equality. Funny how they can sit right next to each other in our brains and we somehow function.

The human mind. A peculiar thing.

Still this is no excuse to discriminate against others and treat them differently. We should reach towards that ideal. Even if we can’t ever be truly equal, we can be as close as humanly possible.