Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo reveal they once considered making Captain America (Chris Evans) the Soul Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones used by Thanos (Josh Brolin) to eliminate half of all life in the universe in Avengers: Infinity War. In both Infinity War and Endgame, the Soul Stone is watched over by the Red Skull (Ross Marquand), now a ghostly stonekeeper, on remote planet Vormir. The Soul Stone is the only stone requiring a sacrifice before presenting itself to a holder: in Infinity War, Thanos kills favorite daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to unlock the stone, while Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sacrifices herself to spare best friend Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) from death in Endgame.
During ComicBook.com's #QuarantineWatchParty of Endgame, live-tweeted by the Russos and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the Russo brothers revealed early on in development they "considered making" Captain America the Soul Stone, but "that idea fell away rather quickly."
The filmmakers did not explain how the short-lived idea would have had Steve Rogers be one of the six stones needed to complete the gauntlet and reverse Thanos' snap, in turn restoring the countless number of lives lost five years earlier. Another unused idea previously revealed by Markus and McFeely would have sent Captain America to Vormir, where he would have had to "collaborate" with Red Skull to retrieve the Soul Stone.
Despite these changes and other abandoned ideas — including a scene that would have depicted a time-traveling Thanos tossing the decapitated head of Captain America — the Endgame creative team worked out endings for Captain America and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) first before working backwards from there:
"We knew the goal of these films was to provide an ending for this epic 10-year journey of 22 movies in the MCU, so we started from the endpoint, which was, 'Let's figure out where our central characters end.' That boils down to the original Avengers, and then that boils down even further to the co-leads of the Avengers in Tony Stark and Steve Rogers," Anthony Russo previously told Backstory Magazine.
Russo continued, "We really thought, 'How do we bring Tony Stark and Steve Rogers through the most epic, satisfying, surprising conclusion we can possibly come up with?' And that's really where our jumping-off point started with [Markus and McFeely] as well as with [Marvel Studios president and producer] Kevin Feige."