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The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s relationship to romance can be described as, at best, rocky. While Tony and Pepper have built a compelling relationship over the course of the MCU, awkward pairings like Bruce and Natasha, or Thor and Jane, are unfortunately more common. Captain Marvel and even Thor: Ragnarok proved that a love interest wasn’t a necessary element by any means, so hopefully Marvel will realize that romantic ships just haven't been its strongest suit.
However, there is one ship that people keep returning to, and with good reason: Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Starting in Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter proved herself to be one of the most important people to come into Steve’s life (perhaps second only to Bucky Barnes), encouraging him to maintain his goodness in a world that could make him into merely a weapon. In First Avenger, these two build up a lovely, old-fashioned rapport that unfortunately ends in tragedy. Steve Rogers' “I had a date” remains one of the most quietly devastating moments in the MCU, and his trilogy frequently returns to her importance in his life. Between their brief but poignant meeting in Winter Soldier, their almost dance in Age of Ultron, and her funeral in Civil War, Peggy has served as one of Steve’s emotional catalysts throughout his arc.Avengers: Endgame is coming up very, very soon, and many think that this film will wrap up Steve Rogers' arc for good. Most of the marketing has focused on bringing things full circle, possibly even literally through time travel, so obviously the specter of Peggy is present. Obviously, we haven’t seen her in the flesh in any marketing — Marvel is too savvy for that — but her voiceover and her picture are given prominence. This, of course, has given way to a number of theories, some positing that she will be a source of inspiration, but others put forth the idea that through time travel, Cap and Peggy will get the happy ending together that they were denied.
Listen. Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell had fantastic chemistry, and their tearful conversation before Steve crashes the plane murders my very soul every time I watch it. There is no denying that these two deserved a life together. However, I really, really hope that Marvel doesn’t go that route, because that would mean the erasure of everything that happened in Agent Carter, and quite frankly, that would be a gross injustice done to Margaret Goddamn Carter.If you never got around to watching Agent Carter (which, shame on you), it covers part of Peggy’s time with the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in NYC and eventually California, and it basically consists of nonstop kicking ass, amazing lipstick, and delightful characters. It was a gem of a show that never really got a chance, being unceremoniously canceled by ABC after two too-short seasons.
However, even though it ended before its time, Agent Carter managed to pack in a wealth of development for one of Marvel’s most underrated yet important characters. We see Peggy navigating life after World War II in the SSR offices, butting up against the glass ceiling in increasingly fabulous hats and forcing men to realize her value despite their dogged attempts to undermine her at every turn. After building camaraderie with her men on the battlefields of World War II, Peggy is faced with the reality that most of her male coworkers would prefer to see her filing papers and fetching coffee. She’s easy to understand that way, you see. No one wants to put the work into understanding a woman who breaks the norm, no matter how demonstrably great she is at her job. While we tragically never got to see her become a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Agent Carter, the foundation is laid, from her position at the SSR to her work with Howard Stark. We could see the stepping stones from the Peggy of First Avenger to the Peggy briefly seen in Winter Soldier and Ant-Man. Peg did the work.We also got to see Peggy blossom emotionally as well. While the series began with her still shouldering the loss of Steve, she eventually learns to move on and open her heart again, in romantic and platonic ways. She ceremoniously dumps the remainder of his blood off the Brooklyn Bridge, preventing the creation of more super soldiers and saying goodbye to her love in one lovely gesture. While Steve would always be a part of who she was, she grew beyond him and his impact on her life. She made new friends, found new love in her Hawaiian-shirt-wearing bae Daniel Souza, and built something worth a damn.
Because of the oddity of his situation — being frozen for decades tends to mess one up a little bit — Steve’s loss of Peggy still feels fresh. It feels like he just took a rain check on that dance, just kissed her, just crashed the plane to save the world. He doesn’t have that much trouble moving on temporarily to her niece, Sharon, but that ill-conceived plot point was just a pretty blatant attempt to “no homo” his relationship with Bucky. Even so, it makes sense that Peggy would still be a part of Steve’s life because of his warped timeline — but that doesn’t mean that it makes sense in hers.For Steve and Peggy to end up together, they would have to erase everything that Peggy accomplished. Her work at the SSR, the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D., everything she busted her ass to make happen. Even if Peggy Carter never got the respect that she deserved from Marvel (I mean, they canceled her show, killed her off, and had Steve mack on her niece in very quick succession; give the woman A BREAK), her work was critical and should be considered a linchpin in the entire MCU. As heartwarming as a reunion with Steve would be, it would be such a disservice to both characters in the long run.
Steve knows that Peggy had a family and accomplished a lot while he was under the ice. He knows how she struggled with losing him before turning her sorrow into iron, working relentlessly to make the world a better place. He knows that she got married and had children. For Steve to have that knowledge while potentially changing her future to include him would be more selfish than romantic, and that is not the Steve Rogers that we’ve grown to love. Self-sacrifice has been his MO since day one, and for him to go out any other way would leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths.Additionally, this would reduce all that Peggy has accomplished into a footnote on Steve’s journey, and I will personally burn the world down if that happens. Marvel has taken slow strides to do right by its female characters, and films like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the upcoming (but five years late) Black Widow film are steps in the right direction. To undermine one of their most important female characters this way would be utterly regressive, and no romantic moment is worth that.
Peggy knows her value, and hopefully Marvel remembers too.