Avengers: Endgame has been said to be a culmination of the MCU thus far, particularly for Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, and because of this fans are likely expecting to gain some closure for the heroes. (Especially if and as they exit the franchise and hand off Avengers leadership to Captain Marvel). The most recent trailer for the highly-anticipated MCU Phase Three flick highlights these heroes, even giving us nostalgic black-and-white flashbacks to their pasts. Which, yes, even means Peggy Carter was brought into the fold.
The attention to Tony Stark in the Avengers: Endgame trailer was unsurprising since we knew from previous footage he will be sending a heartfelt message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen runs low in space. In the latest look, when it came to the segment devoted to Steve Rogers, his tragic love story with the late Peggy Carter was the focus, even featuring a voiceover from her from Captain America: Winter Soldier saying these words as a flashback of Cap holding up her casket was shown onscreen. Here's the quote in question:
The world hasn’t changed. None of us can go back. All we can do is our best and sometimes the best we can do is to start over.
Peggy told Steve this in another time of uncertainty, but it may resonate with the hero more than ever. Following the events of Infinity War, he is certainly dealing with a longing to go back and save the half of the universe turned to dust thanks to Thanos’ snap. Peggy’s voice is telling Steve he can’t go back, that it’s time to start over. This time around it reads as less of a longing for the past as it does foreshadowing for the future.
In the first trailer for Endgame, the picture of Peggy that Steve Rogers had when he crashed the Hydra bomber back in the ‘40s is shown in a moment in the upcoming film when Cap looks back at it and Black Widow stands beside him, right before the pair discuss their "plan," a plan they hope will work. Why does Peggy have such a prominent focus in setup for Endgame? Will we see her again as Captain America’s story wraps up or is Marvel tugging our heartstrings without the payoff these characters deserve?
Peggy Carter was introduced in 2011’s First Avenger as Steve Rogers’ love interest, but had to leave her behind when he was chilling in some ice for 70 years. In Winter Soldier, Cap gets to visit her in her elder years, when she says those recently referenced lines, again in Age of Ultron when Cap sees an illusion of her and referenced in Civil War when she passes. Peggy is also featured in the opening scene of Ant-Man and on ABC’s Marvel television series Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
She is really important to Cap’s character arc. Peggy symbolizes the life he could have had and lost because of taking up the mantle of Captain America. He’s never quite felt like he could really move forward because the life he wanted was taken from him, which also plays into his story arc with Bucky Barnes. He’s been displaced by time but what if he could go back? The popular theory for Avengers: Endgame is that the Avengers will travel back in time and reverse what’s been done by Thanos, so if that’s possible, a reunion with Peggy would also be.
With Cap always going back to Peggy in his mind, she really is the last loose end for the character to move on and wrap up his eight-year storyline. Since the teasers for the film are taking the time to touch on their tragic story, one would think we haven’t seen the last of Peggy or that she will fact in somehow during Endgame. There are a few ways this could go down.
Time travel through the Quantum Realm is certainly on the table here and depending where the Avengers land, Peggy could be alive in the timeline. A reunion with Peggy back in the ‘40s could also be a favor Ant-Man drums up for Cap after they save the universe. Guys. Just imagine if Steve Rogers’ story ended with him getting to keep that date with Peggy. I would never get over it. The hero certainly deserves a happy ending or a brief moment like this if he’s going to go out, given all he’s been through in the MCU.
Maybe Cap stays in the ‘40s or another point in the past. Then again we’ve all seen Back to the Future and changing things in the past can completely change the future and there would be consequences there. In fact, Peggy Carter is pretty important to the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D., which likely wouldn't be possible if she becomes a '40s era housewife. Plus, considering many have theorized Captain America will die in Avengers: Endgame, maybe self-sacrifice will be the character’s ticket to his love and he’ll have a sequence with her in the Soulworld, as Thanos had with young Gamora at the end of Infinity War.
If Hayley Atwell is in fact returning to the MCU for Endgame, she’s great at playing coy about it -- unlike some other MCU spoiler personalities out there. There has been zero word about her joining the cast on set. Still, almost a year ago she said “I wouldn’t rule it out” when asked if she might return to the franchise. Her comments hint at the possibility, but I’d hate to sound too hopeful when it may not happen. The past could stay in the past as far as Peggy goes. And the nods to Peggy could always be part of that extra footage The Russo Brothers have admitted adding to the trailers.
Marvel could be implementing Cap’s lost love in the set up for Endgame to just get us nostalgic for Cap’s emotional story arc. Peggy could simply be symbolism for all that Cap has lost or to remember the mantra she’s told him. While it’s tempting to manipulate time travel for his personal happiness, that may not really be in Cap’s wheelhouse. He’s pretty idealistic in his decision-making and I doubt he want be a staunch advocator of disrupting the time continuum and such.
There are tons of possibilities for the end of Captain America’s time in the MCU, but we hope it includes Peggy Carter. What do you think? Will she pop up in Avengers: Endgame and how do you think it will happen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.