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Chris Evas as Steve Rogers and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger

For many fans, Steve Rogers’ enduring bond with Bucky Barnes is one of the most important parts of the MCU franchise. So, there was definitely some disappointment when he bequeathed Captain America’s shield to someone else in Avengers: Endgame, since Bucky seemed to be his natural successor. Sebastian Stan has now offered some good rationale for why that was actually an act of kindness, though and has shed some light on what it means for Bucky Barnes’ future.

Steve and Bucky have been through a lot of ups and downs. Yet, at the end of Avengers: Endgame, we see an elderly Steve offering his shield to Sam Wilson and not his lifelong best friend. Sure, he and Sam are close, too -- but some fans felt that Bucky deserved it more. However, Sebastian Stan doesn’t agree -- in fact, he feels like Steve and Bucky's fates were exactly right for both their characters:

That’s where I felt like the character was at the end of Avengers: Endgame. It’s also what he wanted for Steve. Like anybody that ends up traumatized by a war experience, he was affected by it for the rest of his life. So, what felt like a desire there was for a restart — for him and for Steve in a way. It didn’t necessarily feel like the shield was gonna be that. Steve going back in time and saying, “I’m gonna take something for me now. I’ve been here for all these guys, and I’ve done the best I could. I’m just a man, and I’m going to go back and try to live my life.” I feel that is something that Bucky would want for his best friend, and at the same time, Steve is saying to Bucky, “You’re going to go and do that, too. I’m not going to put this thing on you. We’re both going to live our lives — the lives that were actually taken from us back in the ‘40s when we enlisted.” So, that’s where I felt they were at the end of the movie.

When you really think about Sebastian Stan's comments to THR, it does feel like Steve did the right thing in giving Bucky a chance to set his own course. Though we’ve likely seen the last of Captain America, Bucky and Sam are going to be teaming up for new adventures in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and Stan promises we’ll get to see how Steve’s decision plays out for both characters:

I don’t think there’s a desire or any conflicted thoughts about taking on that mantle. Sam, to me, was always the clear man to take on that mantle for numerous reasons, which also comes with so much more baggage that’s going to be explored in the show.

In other words: Steve’s decision to give Sam the shield wasn’t just a kind gesture toward Bucky, it could also end up making for some more interesting stories. We’ll see what that all amounts to when the series hits Disney+.

And those who may feel they need to rewatch Bucky, Sam and Cap's fateful scene from the closing moments from Avengers: Endgame can stream the film on Disney+ now.