The Marvel Cinematic Universe never has any shortage of wild rumours associated with it, but one particular report this week set social media ablaze with passionate discussion.
Deadline reported yesterday that Chris Evans was in advanced talks to return as Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) in at least one Marvel film, with the possibility of another subsequent appearance after that.
The news came as a shock to fans, many of whom adored the character's moving send-off in Avengers: Endgame, where he returned to his own time to live out his days with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
Evans has previously said that he would not want to risk returning to his Marvel role after going out on such a high note, but it appears he may have changed his mind (if these rumours are to be believed).
Read on for your full breakdown of the fresh developments, including Evans' latest comments and the ways in which Captain America could return to the MCU.
Captain America return rumours: The fans respond
When word got out that Chris Evans could potentially be returning to the MCU as Captain America, social media was flooded with fan reactions but the verdict was somewhat divided.
There were definitely a large number of Marvel followers who were thrilled and emotional at the prospect of seeing Evans wield the shield once more.
However, thousands voiced their concern over how such a return could get in the way of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) inheriting the Captain America mantle.
An elderly Steve Rogers selected him for the job in the closing moments of Avengers: Endgame and it has been implied that this weight of responsibility will be a key focus in upcoming Disney Plus series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
How could Captain America return to the MCU?
Of course, Marvel fans could have their cake and eat it too as there are two ways in which Evans could return as Steve Rogers without undermining Sam Wilson's promotion to being the new Captain America.
One of the most prominent theories is that we could see a version of Steve Rogers from an alternate universe, made possible by the mind-bending shenanigans promised in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Fans have speculated that if this were to be the case, we could see an evil version of the character akin to the controversial Secret Empire storyline, where Steve Rogers was revealed to be a sleeper agent for HYDRA.
Alternatively, we could see a return for the elderly Rogers we met at the end of Avengers: Endgame, who would not be in a physical state to fight on the frontlines, but could help with strategy and advice for the other Marvel heroes.
This too has been depicted in the comic books before, when the effects of the Super Soldier Serum were temporarily neutralised and Rogers was transformed into a very old man.
Still keen to fight the good fight, he co-ordinated missions for the Avengers from the safety of their headquarters, while Sam Wilson acted as his official replacement on the team.
Captain America return rumours: Chris Evans responds
All this excitement may have been for nothing as Chris Evans responded to rumours of his return on Twitter yesterday, seemingly debunking the above theories.
His tweet simply read: "News to me."
However, fans were quick to point out that there is a precedent for Marvel stars denying reports that later turn out to be true; most recently Tatiana Maslany firmly hit back against rumours that she had been cast as She-Hulk.
The casting was officially announced by Marvel little over a month later.
So, while it would be unwise to rest all your hopes on this rumour being true, one can also take Evans' rebuttal with a pinch of salt for the time being.
If producer Kevin Feige is eyeing an alternate Captain America for the Doctor Strange sequel, we may know soon as the movie is currently shooting in London.
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