Ok, so famously, in Endgame Captain America fights an earlier (and comically patriotic) version of himself:

Number of Caps: 2

It was also discovered that when he went back in time to live with Peggy Carter, it was entirely possible that 'old-Cap' was alive in that timeline too (just probably chilling at home).

Number of Caps: 3

Which made me think, it's entirely possible that when Cap went to return the Time Stone to The Ancient One, he added yet another version of himself onto that timeline.

Number of Caps: 4?

My question is:

How many versions of Captain America were there in 2012?


1 Answer 1


This would depend on who you ask and from there how you interpret the events of the films. So let’s cover a couple of points first:

How does the branching of the timelines work?

The branched timelines are created when an Infinity Stone leaves said timeline but erased when one comes back again. This is the information we get from the conversation between the Ancient One and Smart Hulk.

Ancient One: The Infinity Stones create what you experience as the flow of time. Remove one stone and that flow splits. Now, this may benefit your reality, but my new one…not so much. In this new branched Reality, without our chief weapon against the forces of darkness, our world will be overrun. Millions will suffer. So, tell me, Doctor, can your science prevent all that?

Smart Hulk: No, but we can erase it. Because once we are done with the stones, we can return each one to its own timeline at the moment it was taken. So, chronologically, in that reality, it never left.

Avengers: Endgame

How many branches do we see in 2012?

We watch, most likely, two branches get created in 2012 with a possibility of a third:

  • Loki steals the Tesseract/Space Stone and disappears; if this isn’t the set up for the Loki TV show I’d be surprised and so this is likely he moved it out of the timeline.
  • Smart Hulk takes the Time Stone out of the timeline after the Ancient One gives it to him
  • Scott takes the Mind Stone out of the timeline after Loki steals the Space Stone

Of these we know Cap took the Time Stone back to the Ancient One and the Mind Stone back and so erased those timelines. This would mean the Loki timeline might still be around. However, the events between Smart Hulk with the Ancient One to the Three Musketeers are most likely not synchronous. It all depends on if Smart Hulk left with the Time Stone before or after Loki leaves with the Space Stone. If before, Loki is in a branched timeline already and so it potentially gets erased when Cap brings the Time Stone back.

Was Old Cap in the same timeline/reality?

This is the part that is ambiguous; the writers say yes, the directors say no.

Fandango: So people are asking... Does this mean an old Captain America was hanging out this whole time while another Captain America was saving the day?

Christopher Markus: That is our theory. We are not experts on time travel, but the Ancient One specifically states that when you take an Infinity Stone out of a timeline it creates a new timeline. So Steve going back and just being there would not create a new timeline. So I reject the "Steve is in an alternate reality" theory.

I do believe that there is simply a period in world history from about '48 to now where there are two Steve Rogers. And anyway, for a large chunk of that one of them is frozen in ice. So it's not like they'd be running into each other.


The directors, however, state that when Cap went back in time he went to a different reality and so things would have played out differently there.

At a Q&A event that recently happened in China (via Reddit), Anthony & Joe Russo were asked a series of questions about the biggest surprises and moments in Avengers: Endgame. Thankfully, someone asked about this final scene and whether or not Captain America traveling to the past resulted in a change in the primary timeline. Since he lived a life with Peggy Carter and then spoke to Sam and Bucky in the same timeline that he had just left, how is that possible? One of the Russo brothers answered:

“The time travel in this movie created an alternate reality. He lived a completely different life in that world. We don’t know how exactly his life turned out, but I’d like to believe he still helped many others when they were needed in that world.”

So does that mean there are two Captain America’s in that alternate timeline?

“Yes, there were two Captain Americas in that reality. It’s just like what Hulk said, what happened in the past has already happened. If you go back to past, you simply created a new reality. The characters in this movie created a new timeline when they went back to the past, but it had no effect to the prime universe. What happened in the past 22 movies was still canon.”

Slash Film, Why the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Final Scene Doesn’t Break the MCU, According to the Russo Brothers

Putting this together

We know there were realities when at least 2 Steve’s existed:

  • We see one in Endgame and it was a glorious fight over America’s ass.
  • According to the writers Old Steve and normal Steve are in the same timeline.

When Steve returned the Stones he had to go back to the same timeline for it to work. This would mean that there was another Steve in these timelines to return the Time and Mind Stones. This also means the branched timelines here are erased so this means there’s a short moment in time when 2 versions of Steve are potentially in 2012 from 2023; one to get the Stones and one to return them. And so there are four:

  • Normal timeline Steve
  • Old Steve
  • 2023 Steve
  • Returning Steve

According to the directors though only 3 as Old Steve was in a different reality. But 2023 Steve and Returning Steve could have had at least one of them erased with the Stones going back and so there are 1 to 4 in 2012 at any one time depending on who you ask and the exact timing of things. However, we aren’t given a full run down of what happens when Steve goes back.

  • My mind is very boggled right now..... Apr 28, 2021 at 12:30

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