Avengers: Endgame was the end of an era, particularly in terms of the MCU's original leaders: Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man and Chris Evans' Captain America. But while audiences witnessed the end of Downey's Tony Stark, Cap's current status is still up for debate. In the years following the 2019 film, there have been rumors hinting at Chris Evans' MCU return; and if he was ever going to make a comeback, Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange 2 doesn't just offer one possibility, but several.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn't just a sequel to Benedict Cumberbatch's 2016 origin film, but also a continuation of the Multiversal events from Spider-Man: No Way Home.
However, while No Way Home brought characters from other universes and franchises into the MCU, Doctor Strange 2 looks to flip the script, whisking the former Sorcerer Supreme through different universes to face Variants of himself and other characters.
Since the film's marketing has already confirmed X-Men's Professor X and a live-action version of What If...?'s Captain Carter, it seems that anyone from the MCU and beyond could return in this film, including Captain America's Chris Evans.
Marvel's Multiversal Precedent
Before diving into how Evans could return in Multiverse of Madness, it's worth revisiting what Marvel Studios has established in terms of the Multiverse so far.
First of all, No Way Home didn't just usher characters from past franchises into the MCU, a la Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Men. In fact, most of the film's Multiversal cast were dead in their universes but rather "resurrected" into the present-day MCU.
Therefore, even if Evans' Cap is dead in the current MCU timeline, that doesn't mean he's off-limits for Multiverse of Madness. This works because, as Loki on Disney+ established, time isn't necessarily a chain of subsequent events.
Instead, all moments in time are occurring all at the same time. This is why Green Goblin and Doc Ock were alive in No Way Home - they were lifted from a point in time where they were alive and into another point in time within the MCU.
This literal lack of limits, and Captain America's MIA status, isn't the only reason why fans are hopeful about his return in Multiverse of Madness. An early 2021 report claimed that Evans was in talks to return to the MCU; and while the actor has been vague about its accuracy, he has also expressed that he would only return if the story was right for Captain America.
Is that a confirmation? Not exactly. But it certainly isn't a denial or a flat-out no, and that's honestly the only answer fans need.
Is Captain America on the Moon?
On the other hand, if Evans doesn't return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then Marvel has some serious explaining to do.
After Spider-Man: Far From Home, and now four films and five Disney+ series in Phase 4, fans STILL don't know the status of Steve Rogers or the ramifications of his time travel trip to return the Infinity Stones.
Yes, he was seen as an older version of himself at the end of Endgame; but if this was the same Steve who went back in time to live out his life with Peggy, he would've been over a hundred years old when he gave the shield to Sam Wilson.
Now, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier kinda sorta implied that Rogers has passed on due to his Smithsonian exhibit and the government's need for a new Captain America via John Walker. But this was never confirmed, and Marvel even established that the general public doesn't even know. This is why Joaquin Torres shared the theory about Cap going to live on the moon.
If Marvel Studios wanted audiences to believe Captain America's story was done, Torres' theory and this intentional ambiguity wouldn't have been part of the series, nor would the studio keep reminding audiences about Cap and his legacy via "Rogers: The Musical" and the Statue of Liberty gaining a shield.
Basically, all signs point towards a payoff; and so, without further ado, here are a few ways Chris Evans could return to the MCU. Theories, assemble!
Theory #1: Skinny Steve's Strange Adventure
The first episode of Disney+'s What If...? featured an alternate MCU timeline where Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum and became Captain Carter. What remained the same was the sparks between Peggy and the skinny Steve Rogers, who piloted the Hydra Stomper and fought alongside her.
After Carter sacrifices herself by pursuing an interdimensional beast into a portal, she finds herself 70 years in the future, similar to how Evans' Captain America did in his solo movie. After becoming a key member of the Guardians of the Multiverse, Peggy Carter discovers Steve's Hydra Stomper in her current timeline, and it still has someone inside.
Basically, the two are set up for a reunion; and if Captain Carter is set to appear in live-action via Hayley Atwell, her reunion with Steve Rogers requires Chris Evans.
Theory #2: Star-Spangled Variants
It's happened before.
In Avengers: Endgame, Evans' Captain America fought his 2012 self from The Avengers; and due to his Infinity Stone time-hopping, there may be more Variants of this Avenger than any other Avenger, giving the Man Out of Time moniker a whole new meaning.
In addition to an Evans cameo for Hayley Atwell's live-action Captain Carter, could the actor also appear as the Star-Spangled Man from one - or several - of the universes home to Variant Doctor Stranges? A completely different take on Captain America would certainly be interesting to see.
There was also a scene in Loki that appeared to show Atwell's Peggy Carter being taken into custody by the TVA. Just maybe Evans is returning as the MCU's Cap, whose happily ever after turned into a Multiversal problem due to Strange's No Way Home spells.
Theory #3: Johnny Storm On Your Left
In the spirit of What If...? and Multiverse of Madness, what if Evans doesn't return as any version of Steve Rogers but rather the Human Torch - Johnny Storm?
Captain America wasn't Chris Evans' first Marvel role. Back in 2005, he played the Human Torch in Fox-Verse's Fantastic Four, and then again in 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Now, that's not to say that Evans will be the MCU's Human Torch as part of its upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. No doubt, Marvel Studios has a new cast in mind for such a long-awaited ensemble, especially one that will be around for a long time.
However, since Marvel is already bringing in one Fox-Verse hero with Patrick Stewart as Professor X, why not one more, especially since Evans already had a foot in both studios' comic book franchises? In fact, the cameo might just serve as the best way to show both universes now fall under the same umbrella.
And besides, who wouldn't want to see Strange and Wanda's reaction to seeing Johnny Storm with their friend Steve's face? That would certainly give more credence to the title of Multiverse of Madness.
Will Chris Evans Return in Doctor Strange 2?
Whether or not audiences will see Chris Evans return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, only time will tell. Still, even if the upcoming sequel doesn't feature Evans, that doesn't mean he won't appear in some form or fashion in the future of the MCU.
Marvel Studios has left those Cap-related questions unanswered for a reason; just like the Star-Spangled Man, Marvel always has a plan.