MCU’s Captain America Ending Confusion Creates A Big Risk For The Fantastic Four’s Introduction

Old Steve Rogers in Avengers Endgame in front of Joseph Quinn Human Torch in The Fantastic Four 2025

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has used the multiverse as a storytelling device since before the Multiverse Saga even began, highlighted by Captain America and the events of Avengers: Endgame. With the upcoming release of The Fantastic Four impending, narrative questions have reasonably arisen about the impacts of multiversal time travel. While time travel in the MCU has not immediately created various branching timelines like in DC’s The Flash, Captain America’s return to the main MCU timeline has raised questions of continuity that continue unanswered to this day.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the butterfly effect does not appear to exist in every scenario. Still, Marvel has worked hard to retain stakes within a changing, branching universe, telling character-centric stories that hop between dimensions in Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Fortunately, the MCU has a good handle on picking and choosing the elements of multiverse and time travel that best impact the stories that they wish to tell. However, this inevitably raises concerns about narrative consistency, and everything we know about The Fantastic Four and its 1960s setting complicates things.

Steve Rogers’ Avengers: Endgame Ending Confusion Makes The Fantastic Four’s Time Travel Tease Worrying

A split image of Captain America and the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Endgame

While it’s emotionally fulfilling that Steve got his perfect ending with Peggy in the MCU, the details of how it happened don’t actually make sense. As established, changes to the past create a new timeline that continues from the moment of change. So, when Steve went back, staying there would create a branch, and the original Steve from that timeline would still be there. So, did Peggy and 616-Steve live together while the Steve Peggy first knew lived his life without her? It’s not possible for him to have been living in the “sacred timeline” after going back since him doing so has to cause a branch. It doesn’t quite add up, as nice of a sentiment as it is.

The adoption of multiversal storytelling offers a potential solution to the narrative inconsistencies caused by time travel. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the MCU has a past. The events of Endgame suggest that this past remains largely the same as it was before Captain America’s time travel, but old Steve Rogers returning at the end of Endgame contradicts this. This raises questions about the true history of the MCU. Future stories set in its past will likely need to address the workings of time variance to maintain narrative coherence.

Why MCU’s Fantastic Four Plot Should Be Able To Avoid The Captain America Time Travel Confusion

MCU's Fantastic Four team cast reveal

It has become fairly clear, if not entirely confirmed, that the upcoming Matt Shakman film The Fantastic Four will not take place in the present day. Rumors swirled for a time about this before it was seemingly confirmed in the released retro-style art, causing audiences to speculate that the film will take place in the 1960s. Having previously featured Captain America: The First Avenger during the 1940s and Captain Marvel in the 1990s, Marvel has successfully set films in earlier periods. However, the MCU has complicated its own timeline with Captain America’s time travel in Endgame.

Luckily for Marvel and the audience both, they have created a simple solution to any issue with time travel. The studio may not have to contend with Captain America’s journey’s complex, unanswerable implications, as The Fantastic Four will be in a separate universe entirely. Becoming overly reliant on this as a device can weaken the connectedness of the MCU. However, this would be the first MCU movie to be set in a new timeline and universe entirely, and so long as that is used to its benefit, it could make for a compelling new environment.

Time travel and multiversal storytelling are both difficult to wrap one’s head around, and attempting to reconcile a 1960s-set Fantastic Four with an MCU that is stuck between two different pasts is nearly impossible. That is why the series is exploring multiversal stories. At some point, the MCU will reach critical mass and will likely feel the need to set up a new, single continuity. Until then, The Fantastic Four will be in an entirely new, separate universe with their own special and exciting version of the 1960s to explore independent of Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity.

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