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“Avengers: Endgame” Ending Explained… for Those Who Need It

By now you’ve seen “Avengers: Endgame”. If not, call me and I’ll post your bail so we can go see it. To answer your first question, yes, it’s unbelievable. My daughter and I applauded multiple times throughout the film. And, yes, it’s done incredibly well at the box office. It broke world records, exceeding the domestic weekend performance of “Avengers: Infinity War” by more than 26%.

However, some people have lobbed a few criticisms at the film since it’s release. Particularly the conclusion of Captain America’s story. If you have not seen the movie and are avoiding spoilers, stop now. But, if you’ve seen the movie, please continue.

Let me begin by saying, at He + She Pins, we’re excited about every comic book movie, good and bad. Personally, there are very few good movies out in any genre. So this is in no way, shape or form a defense of “Avenger: Endgame” stemming from sentimentality.

When The Wrap complained “The Last Scene Made No Sense”, I knew what they meant. Not simply because I understand the meaning of “last” but because the film’s flirtation with time travel is only slightly more confusing than a pick-up at last call. A lot of what’s being said is just lip service to quickly get to the action.

The film feels the need to nearly stop entirely at one point to establish its rules of time travel. Lost did something similar, actively naming the movies you shouldn’t be thinking of as you watch this story unfold and asserting that there’s no way to really change time. When you travel to the past, your present becomes the future. “I’m beginning to think ‘Back to the Future’ is full of shit,” Ant-Man states at the end of the scene.

Boom. The rules are established. You can’t go back and erase the present by changing the past. You would create a divergent timeline. So your original timeline would continue to move forward while your actions create a new timeline whenever you are.

Captain America breaks the MCU time travel rules

Captain America is tasked with going back in time and returning all the stones to where they were as soon as they were taken from their timelines. Now, this is a seemingly impossible task. After all, if you have to kill someone you love to receive the Soul Stone, what happens when you return it? And would Captain America have to fight Red Skull when he arrived at Vormir? (This would actually make for its own amazing movie.)

When Cap is supposed to return, he simply doesn’t. In fact, you quickly learn Cap chose to stay in the past with his longtime love Peggy Carter and live his life with her. This provides for a heartfelt conclusion where the man out of time returns to where he belongs.

Some people don’t see it that way. “It doesn’t fit at all for Cap as a human being, and it doesn’t fit with the time travel rules…” the article argues. But that’s just the thing. There are no rules. Not really.

When Doc Brown explains the rules of time travel in Back to the Future, we’re receiving instruction from an expert in the field. Sure, his time travel machine is an experiment, but he’s been studying it for thirty years at this point. He knows what he’s talking about. In “Avengers: Endgame”, time travel has been haphazardly thrown together only a few days before.

There might be a lot of expectations about how time travels works, but they’re all half-baked. No one really knows what’s going to happen. In fact, the Ancient One has to expressly explain it during their “time heist” because their understanding is so underdeveloped. To think there are rules is just plain silly.

Captain America would create a divergent timeline, not exist in the MCU

Yes and no. Yes, it would create a divergent timeline. Yes, Cap may have erased Peggy’s kids from that timeline. But they would still exist in his timeline, so let’s not get too upset about it. Meanwhile, Cap would entirely exist in his previous movies… they’re his past.

But why would Cap be afraid of creating a divergent timeline? There’s already been a massive time divergence… Thanos traveled from 2014 to 2023 and died there.

That means none of the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” happened. So the idea that the multiverse could somehow remain a pristine preserve of historical accuracy was never going to happen regardless.

Captain America would never walk away from his responsibilities

Uh, what? Says who?

We have no reason to think that after being unfrozen he did anything other than bust punching bags all day until Nick Fury came along and asked him to get involved in “The Avengers”. That movie finds himself not only a little depressed but despondent about what the world has become. Does Cap tell Bucky he’s with him “until the end of the line”? Sure. But guys tell their friends lots of things before the right woman comes along.

People change. Cap’s no different.

A lot people forget that what characters say is the surface level manifestation of their internal experience. Each Captain America movie deals with his love of Peggy Carter in one way or another. So to feel blindsided that he returned to her takes the “bros before hos” mentality a little too far. He always loved her and didn’t know how to return to her. Until he did.

The idea that Captain America walked away from his responsibilities is also a bonkers-class assumption. First, he’s saved the universe, so he has that going for him. He’s saved the world twice and he’s saved the country… well, let’s say he’s done that at least twice, too. He’s fulfilled his responsibilities.

But who says that he stopped being Captain America just because he reunited with Peggy Carter? When he returns to the lakeside in 2023, he’s sitting with the shield next to him. He may have spent decades running secret missions (as we know he likes to do from what we’ve seen in “Avengers: Infinity War”).

If you love “Avengers: Endgame” enough to read this speculative take on a work of fiction, you’re our kind of people. You should sign up for the He + She Friends subscription. Each month, those who choose our Pop-Culture subscription get a brand new pin featuring characters and references from comic books and movies. Most notably, Zombie Captain America and the Thanos: Obey pin. If you love pins and love comics, it’s what you’ve been waiting for!

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