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Many fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) thought Captain America (Chris Evans) was going to get the ax in Avengers: Endgame. Not only had Marvel teased multiple deaths in the film, but Evans’ contract with the studio was up and he had not expressed an interest in sticking with the role. While fans expected Cap to sacrifice himself for the good of the team, Marvel decided to keep him alive and gave him the ending he deserved. So why didn’t Cap die in Avengers: Endgame?

Captain America Avengers Endgame
Captain America Chris Evans | Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Marvel wasn’t going to allow Captain America to die

Going into Endgame, Marvel fans had a good idea that one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Thanos. Considering how Cap was the team’s most selfless hero, it made sense that he would be the one to die.

But Marvel threw a huge curveball at us by having Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) make the selfless decision to give up his life to save the universe. That left the door open for Cap to survive the final battle with Thanos and live the life he has always wanted.

As it turns out, Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were never going to sacrifice Cap. According to We Got This Covered, the two realized that it made much more sense on a character development level to have Tony, a historically selfish character, make the sacrifice instead of Steve.

“We realized over the course of the movies that Cap and Tony were on crossing arcs,” the writers explained. “We realized at one point, late in 2015, that for Steve to be his best self, he was going to have to get a life, and for Tony to be his best self, he might have to lose his… And that’s why Captain America can’t die in this movie. Because he was willing to die in the first one. And that’s not a journey.”

A look at Tony and Steve’s story arcs

Having Tony Stark’s Iron Man and Steve Rogers’ Captain America’s journeys mirror each other was a brilliant move by Marvel. The two characters already had a history together and having them develop in this way really added depth to their respective stories.

Tony’s father, for example, knew Steve and respected him on many levels. And one thing that made Tony such a likable character was the fact that he was the rebel of the group.

But as the MCU grew, Cap started to become more like Tony and vice versa, especially by the time we get to Captain America: Civil War.

Markus and McFeely were hesitant to call Captain America selfish, but his actions from Civil War on were definitely more self-interested.

Tony, meanwhile, was hesitant to give up his life, yet having his story end in that way really illustrated how much he changed over the years. It also took fans by complete surprise, which is usually a good thing.

What really happened to Captain America in ‘Endgame’?

While Markus and McFeely had a clear vision on what they wanted to do with Captain America’s story, they disagreed with Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo on some of the finer details.

One of the most controversial aspects of Steve’s story was his decision to remain in the past with the love of his life, Peggy. As far as the writers were concerned, the decision would have had no impact on the future timeline as long as Steve didn’t change anything.

But the Russo brothers disagreed. Based on how the film explained it, Cap’s decision to remain in the past and marry Peggy created an alternated timeline, and who knows what ended up happening.

There are potential pitfalls with both viewpoints, but the latter opens the door for a future Captain America cameo — and Disney’s new television show, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, might be the perfect spot for it.

Is Captain America’s story really over?

This past summer Marvel announced that Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie are joining forces to star in a new show for Disney+ called Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Marvel has not revealed any details about the project, but fans have been wondering if Evans will make an appearance as Captain America.

Unfortunately, it does not sound like Evans is up for returning to the iconic role. While promoting his new film, Knives Out, Evans was asked about the possibility of coming back to the MCU for a quick cameo.

“No, probably not,” Evans shared.

Evans might not be up for a Captain America cameo, but there is plenty to looking forward to in the MCU over the next few years. This includes Marvel’s next offering, Black Widow, which is due out in theaters on May 1, 2020.