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The Week in Fan Theories: Old Steve Rogers, The OA cancellation conspiracy, and more
Welcome to The Week in Fan Theories, your guide to what fan theories, good and bad, are taking the internet by storm!
With so many fan theories floating around the web, it can be hard to know which ones to take seriously and which ones are wildly off the mark. Some theories are brilliant breakthroughs that reveal a whole new understanding of what a work of fiction means, or they're spot-on predictions about what's going to happen in the next installment. Others are specious bunk, deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get aggregated by some of the less scrupulous news sites.
This week, we've got a "confirmation" about an Avengers: Endgame fan theory that only makes it more clear that there isn't a real answer, another far-reaching theory about the MCU's Phase 5, and a very meta theory about the recently canceled The OA. Let's hop to it.
OLD STEVE ROGERS WAS AT PEGGY CARTER'S FUNERAL
When Avengers: Endgame ended with Captain America as an old man, having opted to stay back in time and live a full life with Peggy Carter, some MCU fans wondered if they'd been seeing double. In Captain America: Civil War, one of the pallbearers at Peggy's funeral appears to be an older, white-haired man. We don't get a great glimpse of him, but fans have wondered if that's Old Steve Rogers, secretly mourning his wife alongside Young Steve Rogers, who is clearly visible carrying the front of the casket.
Christopher Markus, who co-wrote both Endgame and Civil War, likes this theory. In comments he made at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 (which are only just making the rounds online now, for some reason), Markus endorsed Old Cap the pallbearer.
"What I really like to believe is that there's an old man sitting in back at Peggy's funeral in Civil War, and that's old Steve Rogers, watching young Steve Rogers carry old Steve Rogers' wife up to the front of the church," Markus said, acknowledging that the internal logic of the moment maybe doesn't quite hold up. "Can I explain it scientifically? Not really, no."
But, even though Markus likes the theory and the idea that Steve Rogers was secretly growing old while his younger self was saving the world, it's not exactly a final confirmation. In an interview with the L.A. Times around SDCC, Markus revealed that the films' directors, the Russo Brothers, don't totally agree.
"There is no set explanation for Cap's time travel," he said. "I mean, we've had public disagreements with [directors Anthony and Joe Russo] about what it necessarily means [laughs], but I love the idea of there being two Steve Rogers in the timeline."
So, if you think that Steve Rogers' reappearance as an old man doesn't quite make sense, but is a nice emotional moment, the filmmakers seem to agree. It's a plot hole that might never be filled, but maybe it doesn't need to be.
GALACTUS WAS THANOS' BACK-UP PLAN
Now that Disney owns Fox — which means that Marvel owns the film rights to the Fantastic Four again — everyone seems pretty sure that Galactus will be the MCU's next big bad. There's no confirmation on that — or even any concrete details about a Fantastic Four movie — but it's a pretty good hunch. How, exactly, will Galactus make his debut? This theory links it back to Thanos.
According to the theory, Galactus was going to maintain Thanos' perfectly balanced universe. It would take about a half-century for the human population on Earth to fully recover after Thanos erased 50 percent of all life, which means Thanos' plan wouldn't last. And, since Endgame revealed he destroyed the Infinity Stones, that means he couldn't repeat the trick. Galactus, this theory posits, could have been Thanos' maintenance man, going around and devouring worlds once they reached a breaking point.
It would somewhat neuter Galactus, one of Marvel's greatest villains, if the MCU made him the guy who eats Thanos' leftovers — not to mention that he's not known for devouring 50 percent of worlds. He's a clean plate type of guy. Galactus will almost certainly make a grand appearance in the MCU, eventually, but it's too soon to make any specific guesses about how, especially if they're tied to Marvel's past rather than its future.
NETFLIX DIDN'T REALLY CANCEL THE OA
Netflix announced this week that it would not be renewing Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's trippy sci-fi series The OA for a third season. But, what a number of the series' extremely devoted fans posit is, what if that's just what Netflix wants us to think?
Because I don't have all day, I won't be getting into the full details of this theory or the events of The OA's season (series?) finale that set it up. Check out this thorough write-up on Insider to fully go down the rabbit hole. The short version is, Season 2 ended with the characters going to an alternate dimension where The OA is a television show created by Brit Marling. Essentially, the real world, albeit with some differences.
So, fans are wondering if Netflix "canceled" The OA because Season 3 is happening in the real world, and there's going to be an augmented reality "season" taking place in real life.
It's a creative and cool theory, but there's no chance it's true. Insider spoke to a source who says the show is kaput, and all the stars are posting sad farewell messages about the cancellation. They could all be lying to us, sure, but Occam's Razor says otherwise. The simple truth is that Netflix just doesn't care enough.
Netflix makes shows in order to make money, and in order to make money, it needs to get new subscribers (or at the very least, keep existing ones). The streaming company has been tightening its belt recently, canceling shows after two or three seasons because they're costing more to make while at the same time being less likely to draw in new subscribers. A show like The OA, which is wildly complex, is probably not going to get a lot of people to sign up for Netflix to check out Season 3, since they wouldn't understand any of it. And, Netflix isn't afraid to cancel beloved and acclaimed shows if its (incredibly secret) data suggests it's not worth it. It gave Tuca and Bertie the ax after just one season.
So, while it would be cool if Netflix was doing something novel and tricking us all with a third season of The OA, the truth is almost certainly that it's just trying to make a buck.