Wait... Steve Rogers Created An MCU Secret Empire? Yes... Yes He Did...
One mistake made by Captain America could have led to a very dark future for the MCU...
Since Iron Man in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown from a surprise hit to the defacto most successful franchise in entertainment history.
While each movie and phase of the MCU has raised the stakes, and left audiences wanting more, Marvel's comic events have also had fans enthralled.
None more so than 2017's shocking Secret Empire, which saw a twist worthy of an MCU movie. This saw Captain America throw fellow hero and protoge Jack Flag from a plane and uttering the immortal words "Hail Hydra" set a new path for the Marvel Comic Universe and fans alike in Secret Empire.
That was just the first of many evil deeds Steve Rogers went on to commit during that time, however it was revealed that in fact, it was not his fault. The Cosmic Cube, Kobik had rewritten Roger's memories to make him loyal to HYDRA. It polarised fans, especially when "evil" Cap was worthy to wield Mjolnir. Many hated the direction the long-running hero had taken, while others saw interesting possibilities for a version of the story in the MCU.
Recent MCU movies prior to Endgame had seen Steve Rogers double down on heroism, refusing to accept the Sokovia Accords after bringing down HYDRA, and becoming a fugitive with other Avengers, before facing Thanos and his invading army in Wakanda.
As Infinity War ended, it was Captain America who sank to his knees saying "Oh God..." and summing up the horror of those who remained after what became known as "The Blip" seeing the other half of humanity disappear before their eyes.
When Endgame began, arguably it could be said "Captain America" was a name of the past, and Steve Rogers was the most well-adjusted of the Avengers. He had found a measure of peace with what had happened, and was seen helping civilians through their ordeals, while also being a shoulder to cry on for Natasha/Black Widow.
Once Scott Lang returned, and the possibility of a "time heist" for the Infinity Stones became a reality, it was Cap who was front and centre in getting two of the stones, and after the success, returning the stones to the exact moment they were taken to avoid branch realities, but time away had made the Avengers rusty to say the least.
Tony Stark managed to lose the Tesseract, meaning at least one branch reality was created when Loki escaped. Let's face it... it would be nigh on impossible to return that particular stone to the exact moment it was actually taken from the timeline by Loki. Meanwhile Steve had his own struggle with himself.
During their fight, future Cap is generally on the losing end, relying on distraction. This is understandable, considering that Cap of 2012 was at the "peak of his powers," and hadn't ensured both two years on the run and five years not being an Avenger since the snap.
Steve could only end that fight by using subterfuge for the first time. The sceptre of course is used to control minds, but Steve doesn't really know how it works... we of course know the next person to speak to someone affected would control them.
If Steve is able to return the stone, and leave the timeline intact, it would mean leaving that times Cap under the influence of the mind stone. The last thing he had said to anyone was that famed "Hail Hydra" line, using his foreknowledge of their infiltration and those exact same people will find him in his blank state and confirm the Hail Hydra" mantra to him, making Captain America a real HYDRA Agent in that time.
Imagine how different Winter Soldier would have been if Steve suddenly killed Natasha while they were on the run?
That means HYDRA doesn't fall, Project Insight is a success and HYDRA then run the world as part of their own Secret Empire.
Of course it's unlikely we will see this version of the MCU play out, unless it's through Marvel Plus and their What If? show, but if Chris Evans ever does want to return, this could be a great way to kickstart a Dark Avengers franchise.