[Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, obviously]
Avengers: Endgame is now the second highest-grossing movie ever (not adjusting for inflation) with only Avatar left to go. The film it bumped down to number three is Titanic, which made $2.187 billion at the box office despite everyone knowing exactly how it was going to end: big ship sinks, to put it bluntly. A lot of people, myself included, thought they knew how Endgame was going to, well, end, too: with the death of Captain America. But unlike Iron Man and Black Widow, Steve Rogers made it out alive. Very old, but alive. According to co-director Joe Russo, he survived because everyone expected him to die.
“Which is why we didn’t kill him. It’s not about trying to subvert expectations all the time, even though that comes into it,” he said during a Q&A session with Comic Book. “Typically when you’re in a writer’s room and you’re working through storytelling, and somebody says something [that] feels obvious, you go, ‘Well, that’s the expectation.’ And it’s not that we don’t always meet expectations, but the job, I think, is to surprise people.” It was a lovely surprise, at that, with Steve and Peggy Carter (welcome back!) finally sharing that dance he’s been dreaming about since Captain America The First Avenger.
To further subvert fan expectations, Steve bequeathed the Captain America mantle to Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, over Bucky. “It made sense that it was Sam,” the Russo explained. “I don’t think that there were significant debates. Bucky is portrayed in the films as very damaged, and not necessarily the guy you’d want to trust with another weapon, because he can always be corrupted.”
The fate of America now rests on Sam’s shoulders. And ass.