Avengers: Endgame’s Joe Russo Explains Why Captain America Didn’t Die in Marvel Movie

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We come to three years since Avengers: Endgame has hit theaters, and the penultimate Infinity Saga remains a popular topic of conversation among Marvel Cinematic Universe fans. One of the greatest moments of End of Gameotherwise the most important is when Tony Stark/Iron Man sacrificed his life to save the universe. However, there were a lot of people before the movie who thought Steve Rogers/Captain America would meet his death, and End of Game co-director Joe Russo.

During the question-and-answer portion of his interview with Deadline at the Sands International Film Festival in St. Andrews, Joe Russo was questioned by an audience member when he and the other creative minds behind Avengers: Endgame understood the “end point” in terms of the conclusion of the stories of Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow. Russo started talking about how he likes to “diagnose” from a storytelling perspective “which arcs are the most compelling” on the projects he’s putting together with his brother Anthony Russo, then said the following :

If you think of Captain America as a character, you’re like, “Okay, Captain America’s death is pretty obvious,” right? It’s something he would do depending on the character. You know, he’s a guy who offered to be a guinea pig in a science experiment so he could go fight the Nazis during the war. He is inherently a hero. Like, there’s not a lot of complexity there. It could have an emotional impact because you love her. You know, he’s a very likable character, but it’s not necessarily the most compelling arc.

Joe Russo makes a good point. Although we first think of Captain America as a superhero, he started out as a soldier ready to die for the greater good in World War II. Chris Evans’ character retained this mindset when he was awakened in the early 21st century, became an Avenger, and battled threats like Loki, HYDRA, and Ultron. Of course, there’s precedent for Captain America dying from the comics, and you can be sure seeing the Star Spangled Man with a plan fall in battle would have been emotional. But from Russo’s perspective, it was too predictable a narrative path to take.

Then there’s Iron Man, who launched the MCU in 2008 and perished in Avengers: Endgame when he swept away the six Infinity Stones of the Thanos alternate timeline and used their power to wipe out the Mad Titan and his army. In November 2019, End of Game co-writer Christopher Markus explained that Robert Downey’s Jr. character had to die to “be his best self,” and Joe Russo echoed that statement with these words:

Tony Stark is a character who had to die. If you watch Iron Man in the first five minutes of this movie, he should have died. But he didn’t, he was captured. And he has an ego, which is also the antithesis of being a hero, right? And that first movie is about subjugating his ego to become a hero. But that ego then feeds him, and sometimes he competes with that idea that he’s a hero. It felt like a more interesting arc to us, to take on a character that had an ego. Because to die for others, you have to overcome the ego. So that felt like the most compelling arc to us, whether it was Stark who died. To make it a richer, more complex arc, and that’s why we chose it.

So at the time Avengers: Endgame was over, Iron Man was no longer with us, and neither was Black Widow, who threw herself off a cliff at Vormir so Hawkeye could get the Soul Stone. Scarlett Johansson reprized Natasha Romanoff once again in Black Widowwhich was between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity Warbut unless the MCU wants to bring in lookalikes of her or Tony Stark, similar to the alternate versions we’ve seen in the animated series What if… ?don’t expect to see Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. again in this franchise.

As for Captain America, after Avengers: EndgameThe climactic battle of was over, he traveled back in time to return the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir to their place in time, then he went to the late 1940s to live decades with his one true love, Peggy Carter. Last we saw, the now-elderly Steve Rogers returned to the present day of the MCU to give a new version of his vibranium shield to Sam Wilson. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended with Sam officially becoming the new Captain America, and Anthony Mackie’s character is now lined up to lead Captain America 4. However, not only is Steve not expected to appear there, Chris Evans and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige have denied rumors that the first Captain America will return. So while Steve from the MCU isn’t dead (as far as we know), right now it’s unlikely we’ll ever find him again.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the MCU’s theatrical narrative on the record, and it’s just one of many upcoming Marvel movies on the horizon. However, if you fancy new MCU content now, Moon KnightThe first episode of is available to watch with a Disney+ subscription.

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