Yes, Agent Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) did finally have that dance. And yes, we now definitively know who Peggy Carter’s husband was; a mystery since Captain America: Winter War. And a mystery teased throughout the underrated Agent Carter series.
In a shocking twist, the final moments of Avengers: Endgame also worked as a series ending for Agent Carter when Captain America travels back in time, shares a dance with Peggy, and ultimately marries her (offscreen).
While I’ve put off posting this romantic moment for a couple of months now – due to major spoilers from Avengers: Endgame, I thought it was time to put the spotlight on the epic (and long-awaited) romantic ending for Steve and Peggy.
Now, to be fair, there has been some discussion and disagreement between the directors of Endgame and the screenwriters on whether this ending was a branched reality (an idea supported by the directors – the Russo brothers) or if Steve was always Peggy’s husband (supported by the screenwriters). However, based on evidence, I’m going to have to go with the writers on this one. I’ll explain in detail below.
STEVE AND PEGGY
From the time Agent Peggy Carter and Steve first met in Captain America: The First Avenger, we all knew they were soulmates. And by movie’s end, the two were finally admitting their feelings for each other. Unfortunately, Steve sacrifices himself to save everyone, leaving Peggy behind with an unfulfilled promise to share a dance with her.
This “dance” continues as a dream for both Steve and Peggy in their own timelines. In the present, Steve never lets go of his deep love for Peggy, even after she dies of old age. And even when he begins a romance with Peggy’s niece, Sharon. Peggy remains his rock, his passion; the memory of her more real than anyone else in his life. He can’t let go. That should have been a huge clue! Especially in a Hollywood movie where female love interests interchange like socks. But in every movie, Steve faithfully carries his photo of Peggy with him.
Whereas, Peggy, in her own series, and in the past, mourns Steve post World War II. She holds onto a photo of Steve pre-Captain America and places him on a pedestal above all other men. To be fair, you can’t really blame her. How can any man top Captain America?
WHO DID PEGGY CARTER MARRY?
On Agent Carter, the mystery of Peggy’s husband becomes a major intrigue of the series. Who will she marry? In the beginning, we had a few contenders. From Howard Stark to her partner-in-crime Jarvis to Jack Thompson and the most likely contender, Daniel Sousa. While I personally had an intense dislike for Peggy and Sousa (I found him condescending), season two did end with Peggy and Sousa sharing a passionate kiss.
Still, there was no definitive answer for who Peggy Carter’s husband was. The fact that it continued to remain such a mystery should have been a huge indication that Sousa (and all the men) were red herrings. Ambiguity typically means a surprise is coming.
Recently, I decided to re-watch Agent Carter (it’s still available on Hulu) and discovered some interesting clues. While I always hoped for the time-travel ending for Steve and Peggy, I was never completely convinced the writers would be allowed to go through with it. But on re-watch of the series, it’s clear this is what the creators of Agent Carter wanted all along.
So, to explain the lead-in to this month’s romantic moment, I want to revisit some of the clues presented in both the series and the movies. I’ll only share a few though there are many more!
If you weren’t aware, the writers and producers of Avengers: Endgame, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, also wrote Captain America: The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War. But they also were the Creators and Executive Producers of Agent Carter and, in fact, wrote the pilot.
So, why is this an important clue? Well, the stories of Captain America and Agent Carter are theirs. It’s their voices behind both the TV show and all of the Captain America movies and then the final two Avengers movies. So, is it really all that surprising that they’d end their canceled too soon show with Avengers? They even made sure to have a cameo from Jarvis in Endgame. I’d personally take the vision of the writers who started this story from the beginning than the directors who seem just as confused as many viewers by the time travel.
Time Travel Explained
As I interpreted the time travel in Endgame, Banner explains that you can’t go back in time and change the past to then change the future. So, it doesn’t work like Back to the Future. In that way, the future is also your past – if you travel to the past that is. The Ancient One also supports this and explains that if the Stones are returned to the exact moment they’re taken in the past, then there won’t be branched realities. Banner then promises the Ancient one that they can preserve a single timeline.
And that’s what I argue Steve does. He travels to the past. Yes, he’s warned about not entering alternate timelines but there’s no evidence in the film he actually crossed over into one. Rather, like what Banner and the Ancient One explains, their goal was to preserve a single timeline. Gamora, Thanos, and Loki also seem to exist in this timeline and not a branched reality.
So, while alternate timelines exist, the whole point from what I understand (and as explained by the writers), is that Steve marrying Peggy is always what happened. And by him returning the stones to their proper place, he preserved the timestream as Banner promised the Ancient One they would. He then traveled to Peggy in the past. I’m not sure why he would risk entering an alternate timeline or why he would need to. The dialogue and evidence in the film just don’t support it. That would also be rather convoluted for him to travel back and forth between timelines when he can just stay in the one.
That all said, it seems the writers had a story in mind for Captain America and for Peggy Carter from the beginning. They purposely used the promise of a dance as a cliffhanger. And then the writers never let go of it. Was it meant to be seen as a tragedy or a clue that eventually Steve and Peggy would have their dance?
If you watch the pilot of Agent Carter, you’ll see just how much they purposely connect Steve to Peggy even more than before. Why bother if she’s just going to marry someone else? The biggest clue hides in the title of the episode: “Now is Not the End.” Compare that to the title of “Endgame,” and you can see how the story comes full circle. On re-watch, it’s obvious Steve and Peggy ending up together is what they were planning all along.
But what about Sousa, you might ask? Well, if you pay attention closely, Sousa doesn’t quite fit into the narrative or clues presented in the later movies, also supporting the theory that Steve was always meant to be Peggy’s husband. Not Sousa. So, therefore, no branched reality.
Captain America: Winter Soldier
In Captain America: Winter Soldier, when Steve reunites with an older Peggy, they show a clip of Peggy talking about her husband in 1953. She said:
“That was a difficult winter. A blizzard had trapped half our battalion behind the German line. Steve… Captain Rogers, he fought his way through a HYDRA blockade that had pinned our allies down for months. He saved over a thousand men, including the man who would… who would become my husband as it turned out.”
In hindsight, this sounds more like a cover story close to the truth rather than the actual truth. Something we know Carter is good at as a spy. Still, if Sousa had ever been saved by Steve, there were a few times in the show when it would have made sense for that type of reveal to happen. Especially when Peggy reunites with the Howling Commandos. Plus, Sousa doesn’t seem particularly interested or connected to Steve. If he were rescued by him, I’d imagine that would have been a different story.
In this 1953 scene, Peggy also said, “even after he died, Steve was still changing my life.” I bet he was!
Another clue is in the same sequence when Steve talks to an older Peggy.
“The world has 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.” Focus in on “start over.” In this scene, they also want us to notice Steve looking at the photos of her children. Grrr. He doesn’t know he’s looking at photos of his future children in the past.
But then they throw us off the scent when Peggy reverts to a past version of herself when Steve was gone. However, if you pay attention closely, the scene gives even more clues. Peggy says phrases like: “you came back…it’s been so long…” Possible interpretation: Could Peggy be reverting to a memory when Steve comes back to her in the past?
Then Steve adds:
“Well, I couldn’t leave my best girl…not when she still owes me a dance.” If Steve had an option to be with Peggy, there’s no doubt he’d take it. The writers were spelling it out for us but we couldn’t see it. The truth was in front of Steve and us all along! And it’s this pivotal scene that becomes important to the official Avengers: Endgame trailer.
The Official Avengers: Endgame Trailer
In the official trailer, Steve’s mini montage is mostly about Peggy. An older Peggy narrates talking about how you can’t go back but you can start over. And just as her monologue ends, we see him carrying Peggy’s coffin from Civil War. Again, we’re being reminded of the importance of Peggy with phrases connected to “time.” Soon after, Nat and Steve talk about “moving on” And how they haven’t. They’re talking about bringing back the dead Avengers but it’s also a clue to Peggy. He’s not the type to let go.
The Mystery Itself
One of the biggest clues to the Steve/Peggy time travel ending is the mystery of who Peggy Carter’s husband is. Why make it such a big deal? If it was Sousa, why be so secretive? And why make it a major plot point in the movies aside from the TV Show? It’s because they wanted people to be guessing, wondering. The fact that they never said, even on panels or in interviews after the show’s cancellation, kept the answer a mystery open to theories and discussions. Sousa and Sharon were both red herrings, nothing more.
The years of build up in many Marvel movies as well as the TV shows, Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (yes, Hayley Atwell as Carter guest stars in a couple of episodes and there’s even a clue to the identity of her husband in a newspaper article), all led up to the events of Avengers: Endgame.
In the movie, Steve continues to long for Peggy while living in a world where many of his friends (Avengers) are now also gone. It’s been five years but he and Natasha haven’t given up. Ultimately, Tony and the other surviving Avengers come together to use time travel to save their friends and the world from Thanos. In the past, Steve even sees Peggy in 1970 when she’s the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He stares longingly at her, clearly still in love with her after all these years. But it’s only a brief moment. His mission’s more important.
However, in the midst of the mission, Tony Stark reminds Steve to find happiness as he has. So, after they defeat Thanos and half of the world’s population returns, that’s just what Steve decides to do.
Captain America travels to the past to return the stones in their proper place in the timestream. However, when he’s supposed to return, he doesn’t appear. Instead, Sam Wilson finds an old man sitting nearby on a bench. It’s an old Steve Rogers.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT
This brings us to our romantic moment for the month. Sam finds Steve sitting on the bench. He asks, “Did something go wrong or did something go right?”
Steve tells him that after he put the stones back he thought, “maybe I’ll try some of that life Tony’s telling me to get.” And that his life has been “beautiful.” After Steve passes on the Captain America mantle to Sam, Sam asks, “You want to tell me about her?”
But Steve decides to keep it a mystery just a little bit longer. “No, no…I don’t think I will.” (The writers really did want to keep this plot a mystery to the very last minute.)
We then hear old-fashioned music playing. The camera slowly zooms into a house and then into a window. There, we see Steve and Peggy FINALLY sharing a dance. They then share a sweet, old Hollywood-like romantic kiss bringing the stories of Captain America, Iron Man, and Agent Carter to a close. In the timeline, the story begins with Steve, Peggy, and even Howard Stark (Tony’s father) so it’s fitting the stories of Steve, Tony, Peggy, Howard, and Jarvis all come to a close in Avengers: Endgame at the same time.
THE WRITERS’ INTENT AND THE ENDING
So wrapping this all up, as to whether or not Peggy and Steve ended up together in a branched reality or if he was Peggy’s husband all along, I argue the latter. And the writers did share a definitive answer. Plus, since the evidence supports their plan over this branched reality theory believed by the directors, I’m going to stick with the writers on this one. It is their story after all.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the writers adamantly stated they intended for Steve to be Peggy’s husband all along. McFeely added: “It was always our intention that he was the father of those two children. But again, there are time travel loopholes for that.”
So, there you have it. On top of all of the convincing evidence, the writers confirmed it was always their plan. The ending supports the evidence. And the ending was about as romantic as any movie can get.
Did you love the ending of Avengers: Endgame between Steve and Peggy? Were you surprised to learn who Peggy Carter’s husband was? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Featured image at top: Agent Carter and Captain America: The First Avenger. Credit: ABC/Disney/Marvel