This article contains spoilers from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier through Episode 5 (premiered April 16).
Living in the shadow of Captain America is a major theme of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - arguably the boldest and most exciting of the Marvel TV shows streaming on Disney+ so far. Conflict erupts between Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) over Sam’s reluctance to inherit the shield, particularly after it is unexpectedly passed down to another war hero (Wyatt Russell) who turns out to have inner conflicts of his own. It really does make you wonder where Steve Rogers is among all of this commotion.
The last we saw of Cap, played by Chris Evans, in the closing moments of Avengers: Endgame, his older self explained to Sam how he chose to “try some of that life Tony [Stark] was telling [him] to get” after returning the Infinity Stones before handing over the shield to his friend. Now, as Sam and Bucky are dealing with the Flag Smashers (with help from former nemesis Zemo and Cap’s brief flame Sharon Carter) and John Walker threatens to put the Captain America moniker to shame, Steve Rogers’ whereabouts are anybody’s guess… or so one might assume.
The following is an attempt to answer all the questions we have regarding where the original Captain America may be as the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier unfold before we reach the final episode. We will start by analyzing what his friends may already be aware of.
What Do The Avengers Know About Steve Rogers?
As we know from that emotional Avengers: Endgame ending, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Sam Wilson, and Bucky were there to witness first-hand that Steve Rogers is no longer the youthful, ass-kicking super soldier after the opportunity to return to the 1940s arose. In his final scene, a very peaceful Steve Rogers was in his elder years, having lived out his happily-ever-after with Peggy Carter. The question is, what other Avengers know about Old Steve and what is the true extent of their knowledge?
We know from Don Cheadle’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier cameo that War Machine knows Steve offered Sam the shield, but they keep quiet about any other details - possibly to be extra careful that nothing slips out. However, Sam could have opted to not reveal any more to Rhodey out of respect to his friend, or maybe Steve (like his cheeky refusal to talk about his marriage) opted to only tell Sam so much, such as where he has been living all this time, assuming he's alive. It's possible all of Steve's closest Avenger friends are in on his situation and whereabouts, but we don't know for sure.
What Does The Public Know About Steve Rogers?
At the beginning of Spider-Man: Far From Home, a tribute to the Avengers we recently lost (created with Windows Movie Maker) shows images of Natasha Romanoff, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers, indicating it is generally believed that Captain America is dead. Yet, a biographical summary at the Smithsonian's Cap display mentions him "laying down his shield, enjoying the world he had fought so hard to protect," but nothing of his death. It is possible that he passed away after his retirement, but it appears that some have other ideas to explain Captain America’s absence on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as Sam Wilson’s friend Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez) explained the following in Episode 1:
Online, there’s been a lot of stuff about Steve, actually. Crazy, crazy conspiracy theories. Some people, some people, they think that he’s in a secret base on the moon looking down over us.
Despite how frighteningly relevant the show's mention of crazy “internet chatter” is, I actually can understand where the conspiracy theorists are coming from. Even if we were to assume that Steve Rogers is in fact dead, whether or not the world knows about his return to the 1940s and subsequent aging is not confirmed - meaning the idea of a youthful, ass-kicking super soldier dying soon after retirement might be hard for some to grasp. Theories about Elvis' death must have started the same way.
Is Steve Rogers Dead Or Alive?
Given that Captain America’s age in Avengers: Endgame was revealed to be 112, it is not much of a stretch to believe that Steve Rogers would have passed on by now. However, discussions of his fate on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have been quite vague - not just in how it has been addressed in public cycles, but even when central characters talk amongst themselves. Steve being "gone" has been mentioned more than once throughout the series and the following conversation between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5 seems to offer the closest thing to an answer, but just barely:
BUCKY: That shield’s the closest thing I’ve got left to a family so when you retired it, it made me feel like I had nothing left. Made me question everything. You, Steve, me. You know, I’ve got his book and I just figured if it worked for him, then it’d work for me.
SAM: I understand, man. But, Steve is gone. And, this might be a surprise, but it doesn’t matter what Steve thought.
By “gone,” does Sam mean that Steve is just not around for any Avenging anymore or is he really truly gone? Not to mention, does Bucky have Steve’s old notebook because he gave it to him himself or did he inherit it from him as if it was an asset in a will? The words they use and their body language give me conflicting ideas, but, at this point, imagining him dead is comparatively easier to contemplate than the contrary.
If Steve Rogers Is Alive, Where Is He?
Steve Rogers' super soldier physiology actually has me willing to believe that he could still be breathing even at more than a century old, but that still leaves us to ponder over just where that might be? As Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher McFeely and Stephen Markus have explained, Old Steve Rogers was living concurrently as the events of all the Marvel movies in order had unfolded. Therefore, he could still be hiding in plain sight somewhere under a different name or at a safe house.
However, Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo have suggested Steve was living with Peggy outside of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, meaning he would have had to shift over to the main timeline in order to give Sam the shield. So, it is possible that Steve is actually living (or not) in an entirely different reality from the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, with two contradicting interpretations, there is no way to be sure of either.
As complicated as all of this could get, I'm almost willing to settle on the moon base theory since the only way to put those rumors to bed is if Steve Rogers’ fate is officially revealed, beyond the explanation that "he's gone." Here’s to our hope that the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will be available to stream on Disney+ on Friday, April 23, 2021, will give us the closure we need. If not, could there a Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 2 in the works?