The MCU Says Goodbye to Steve Rogers in the Perfect Way in Avengers: Endgame
Warning: everything beyond this point is a spoiler! Proceed with caution.
As you go into your screening of Avengers: Endgame, you should prepare yourself for a few things. You'll be thinking stuff like, "God, I hope my bladder makes it through this" and "Am I actually prepared for the devastation about to happen on this movie screen tonight?" These are totally relatable feelings, especially since Endgame wraps up at just over three hours and will probably leave you emotionally wrecked.
Let's face it: we all expected that tragic deaths were coming, but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. Not only do we lose the daddy of the MCU himself, Tony Stark, but we also have to say goodbye to the badass Russian spy that inspired us all to take at least one Krav Maga class. (At least for now . . .) But Endgame isn't just about the Avengers reversing the snap; it's about closing out an era. Our favorite characters set off for new adventures with new friends and some of them manage to find their happily ever afters. One hero in particular, the first Avenger in fact, does exactly that.
Does Captain America Survive the Battle Against Thanos?
Endgame begins with the rescue of Tony Stark and Nebula by Captain Marvel and their return to the Avengers Compound, where the remaining heroes attempt to figure out a way to bring back the people who died after Thanos's snap. Chris Evans's newly shaved Steve Rogers (the first tragedy of the film) is gung-ho to head back and kick Thanos's ass, but their mission doesn't end the way they expected when the heroes learn that Thanos has destroyed the Infinity Stones. Suddenly, five years have passed and Steve has followed in the footsteps of his friend Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and is leading group therapy for those who have been left behind from the Snap. Then, Scott Lang finds his way to the compound, fresh from the Quantum Realm and bearing ideas on how to go back in time to save everyone who has been dusted.
After some trial and error, the Avengers band together with the plan to go back in time and collect the Infinity Stones before Thanos ever does, and then return to their own timeline. Of course, plans can never go off without a hitch, which leads Tony and Steve to go even further back in time for an emergency retrieval. They end up in 1970, where Tony runs into his father Howard Stark and Steve runs into the "love of his life," Peggy Carter. Well, to be more specific, Steve stares at her through the window of a darkened office where she doesn't notice him. In the end, Steve and Tony are successful in grabbing the Tesseract, but the trip strikes a nerve with Steve as he remembers just how much he's lost.
With all the stones collected and Tony's Iron Gauntlet created, Hulk volunteers to wear the new gauntlet and snap everyone back. Since the glove beams out enough gamma radiation to kill a mere mortal, though, beings like Thanos and the Hulk are the only ones who can survive using it — it does still severely (but not fatally) wound them. Luckily, Hulk survives and the dusted come back home. They arrive just in time for an all-out superhero brawl against a past version of Thanos, who has now traveled through time to battle for the Infinity Stones and destroy half the world all over again. (This movie gets a little confusing, OK?)
For a hot minute, it really looks like the remaining Avengers (now Steve, Tony, and Thor) are going to go down in a bad way. Steve gloriously wields both his shield AND Thor's hammer Mjölnir
to bring the Mad Titan down to size, but when Thanos's massive intergalactic army arrives, it's obvious that things are about to get pretty dicey for our heroes. Thank the Russo brothers for action clichés, because the entirety of the dusted warriors arrive in time to go head-to-head as Captain America says, "Avengers, assemble."
The battle for the Infinity Stones ends when Iron Man steals the stones straight out of Thanos's golden glove and places them into a makeshift gauntlet built into his suit. He snaps his fingers, despite knowing what it'll do to his body, and is able to kill Thanos and wipe out his army, who all disintegrate the same way people did in Infinity War. Tony's sacrificial snap instantly sends a fatal wave of gamma energy through his body, frying his right side and rendering him unable to even really speak. He dies on the battlefield, with his wife, Pepper, and protégé, Peter Parker, at his side.
What Happens to Captain America at the End of Avengers: Endgame?
The Avengers gather once more for a small funeral held at Tony's lakeside home, where they pay their respects and say goodbye to the man that basically brought them all together. As people begin to part, Hulk, Sam, and Bucky stick around so Steve can quickly return the stones to their own timeline. When he doesn't come back in the designated few seconds, however, the men panic. Then, Bucky notices a lone, much older man sitting on a bench near the lake with his back to them.
When Sam approaches him, he realizes it's actually Steve, who's now around the age of 100 (potentially more). Older Steve reveals that he used his last time jump to go back and live a long and happy life with Peggy, eventually getting married to her. He encourages Sam to try on the shield, effectively passing on the Captain America mantel to his friend.
It's a sweet (though mildly confusing, considering the time travel loopholes) ending that finally allows Steve to get that dance he missed out on when he went into the ice in 1945. Though there's no doubt that Steve found a family with the Avengers, he always felt out of place and out of time, longing for the woman he left behind. And with his adventuring wrapping up in Endgame, he finally seems content. Goodbye, Steve Rogers. Looks like this is the end of the line.