Avengers: Endgame ended with a series of twists. Iron Man died, Captain America decided to stay in the past, Thor joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, the list goes on. But one twist, in particular, sparked an endless debate among fans: Why did Steve Rogers pick Sam Wilson, and not his BFF Bucky Barnes, to be the next Captain America?
For over a year, some fans have argued that Bucky (aka, the Winter Soldier) is arguably the better soldier and therefore the smarter pick. Plus, his longstanding friendship with Cap should have made him a shoo-in. On the other hand, there's nothing inherently wrong with Sam (aka, Falcon), and he's done plenty to earn the shield since his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — back then Bucky was still a villain, remember?
Marvel's never really offered a definitive explanation, but one MCU fan may have solved this mystery by spotting an Easter egg in Avengers: Endgame that connects all the way back to the first Captain America movie.
In Captain America: The First Avengers, Stanley Tucci plays Dr. Abraham Erskine, the scientist who picks a scrawny Steve Rogers to become America's first superhero (despite the objections of almost everyone else in the movie). At one point in the film, Steve asks the doctor why he was chosen. Erskine responds by revealing the origin story of Red Skull (real name Johann Schmidt), who used the same serum that created Captain America on himself:
"There were other... effects. The serum was not ready. But more important, the man. The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows... compassion."
The message is clear. Steve Rogers was chosen to be Captain America because he had the morals and principles to become a superhero. Erskine then adds:
"Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier, but a good man."
There can be little doubt that those words echoed in Steve Rogers' head for many years afterward, and it's likely he considered them carefully when deciding who should take on the mantle (and shield) of Captain America). As far as we know, Sam Wilson isn't getting an injection of super-soldier serum anytime soon, but the point remains: it's more important to be a "good man" than a "perfect soldier."
Nothing against Bucky, who's come a long way since his days as a Hydra assassin, but while he might be a perfect soldier, he's still got plenty of demons. There's no denying that the good man of the two is Sam Wilson.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is expected to premiere in 2021 on Disney+.