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The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Director Gets Candid About What Happened To Captain America - Exclusive

Chris Evans stole the hearts of Marvel fans everywhere when he debuted as Steve Rogers in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. Coming from humble beginnings of tantalizing, whipped-cream-wearing shenanigans in Not Another Teen Movie and hot off his Fantastic Four days at the time, Evans stepped into big shoes. He perfectly emanated Steve Rogers' enviable morals and his all-around wholesome personality. Evans became the superhero that not only America needed, but also the whole world needed, too — and fans will always be grateful for the years he spent carrying the weight of his iconic shield.

However, every superhero's rein must come to an end at some point, and Avengers: Endgame marked, well, the end of Steve's stint as the MCU's Captain America. In the film's final moments, a suddenly elderly Steve hands his shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who's reluctant to take it. As Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) says in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer"That shield represents a lot of things to a lot of people." That sentiment is true both on and off the screen.

Now, the new Disney+ series honing in on Sam and Bucky must deal with the transition between Steve's Captain America and the hero who will hoist up the shield in his absence. Though Steve bestows that honor on Sam at the close of Endgame, it looks like we have a whole lot of social issues and plots to cover before we (hopefully) get to watch Sam (and Mackie) become the first on-screen Black Captain America. 

In a recent exclusive interview, Looper spoke to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier director Kari Skogland about how Steve Rogers' palpable legacy influences the show, and about what exactly happened to Cap after the events of Endgame.

The man, the shield, the legend

On how big of a presence we can expect the memory of Captain America to have within The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Skogland said, "Well, I think it's throughout the series, it's throughout their characters." Noting how beloved Cap is by everyone who knew him, she added, "This is a man that they loved, a friend, they lost a friend. [...] He carried the shield, and he was a very particular kind of Captain America. And he passed the shield on to Anthony['s character], who then has to decide whether or not he wants to take on what that is."

Most fans hadn't even considered the possibility that Sam might turn down the shield after the events of Endgame. Now, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is giving us all of that transitional goodness as Sam works through his reservations and deals with the realities that come from a society fraught with racism.

Skogland touched on this, explaining, "The optics of being a Black Captain America are very specific, and they aren't without their issues. And so he has to really look at it and decide if that's what he wants to do." Additionally, Sam and Steve were incredibly close. Every time Sam picks up the shield, "it feels like it belongs to someone else," as he notes in the final trailer. Sam is still going through the grief of losing one of his closest friends, and the shield is a massive reminder of what he's lost.

There are so many things at play here that lie beneath the surface of Sam's decision. As Skogland remarked, "I think the legacy of what the shield represented while it was on Steve's arm is affecting every decision [Sam is] making as well. So I think [...] whether he's mentioned or not, I think as a character, [Steve is] always in the room." Some people are so larger than life that they don't need to be present for everyone to sense them — and Steve is undoubtedly that hero for the MCU characters and fans alike.

'Til the end of the line

We see a very wizened Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and he's still alive through the credits. Based on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's first episode, it seems like Steve might've passed away in the months since his exchange with Sam, but it's not entirely clear. So, Looper asked Skogland what every Marvel fan is dying to know: Is Steve Rogers just lying low in his old age, or is he truly gone?

Skogland gave a short and sweet answer: "We don't know. And our characters don't know either, so there, that's a good question — and one we all have." 

Leave it to our sassy, elderly Steve to keep us all guessing about his whereabouts. He holds the time he spent growing old with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) pretty close to his chest, so it's no surprise that he disappeared after handing off the shield to Sam. Is he gone? Is he playing bridge in a retirement home with a fake name? We don't know — and it's possible we never will. It's unlikely the public even knows he went back in time to live out the rest of his glory days, so most people probably aren't looking out for an elderly Cap — and that's what makes his mysterious departure all the more poetic. Steve got everything he wanted in life, and now, he's making way for a new era of the Avengers. But he'll always have a place in the MCU and the hearts of the fandom. Is that too sappy? Probably, but too bad.

We can remember Cap's legacy every Friday when the six-episode mini-series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs new episodes on Disney+. We'll be with you 'til the end of the line, Steve Rogers.