Theories and speculation are built into the MCU fanbase and at this point, you can expect at least a dozen new debates every day. The latest and greatest in Marvel fan theories comes from the twisty, universe-bending antics of Loki and the newfound existence of the TVA.
The Time Variance authority made it abundantly clear that they are dedicated to protecting the sacred timeline which, we quickly discover, means finding and destroying any potential multiverse branches. This includes major alterations like The God of Mischief himself (Tom Hiddleston) escaping with the tesseract or, arguably, smaller ones like eating the wrong neighbor’s cat.
So fans got to thinking about what other examples of timeline shenanigans we’ve seen in the MCU, and a very obvious answer sprung to mind. The question on the table is: should Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) be held accountable for his crimes against the timeline?
On the off chance that you don’t know Steve Rogers’ fate, here’s your spoiler alert for Avengers: Endgame. Read on with that in mind.
The endlessly heroic Steve Rogers decided to step away from his superhero lifestyle and get a taste of the normal life he’s always craved. Jumping back in time, Rogers returned to Peggy (Hayley Atwell) and finally delivered on the dance he promised her way back in 1945. If that doesn’t sound like a red alert for TVA interference, what does? There’s nothing they love quite like interrupting someone’s moment of happiness.
Whether or not Steve would be pruned upon arrival has become a major point of debate. Luckily, Loki directed Kate Herron has decided to weigh in on the matter. In an exclusive interview with The Direct, Herron said,
“My theory is this: It comes down to if you’re an optimist or a pessimist. If you’re an optimist, maybe it was okay [for] them living that way, and the branch wasn’t so severe that it didn’t need to be pruned, and that meant that they could stay together. Maybe the romantics can say somehow that managed to exist. And then the pessimists [think], ‘They probably got pruned.’”
Does Pessimism Win Again?
Let’s think this through.
I hate to bring logic to the party and stand against pessimism, but Old Man Steve did live out an entire life before returning to the present. He says as much to Sam (Anthony Mackie) when handing off the shield and Captain America mantle. To be back in the present with Sam and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) right at the moment when he left, Steve would’ve had to wait for that point in time to come back around. Which he did — you can tell by all the wrinkles. So optimism wins; Steve was not pruned upon arrival!
But why not share the love and let pessimism snag some points too?
Just because Steve wasn’t pruned immediately doesn’t mean he wasn’t pruned at all. The TVA was mighty busy hunting Loki’s, so maybe they didn’t come around to Steve until after he gave up the shield and was on the bus home. Maybe Old Man Steve was pruned long after living his life and transported to the apocalyptic setting of the Void. Sadly, no man who dresses like my grandfather has a chance of surviving Aolith, the predatory beast that consumes everything on the planet. So we can assume Old Steve was definitely eaten, hopefully after partying with a few Lokis. But on the bright side, at least he got his dance first!
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