Leading up to Captain America: Civil War, there were tons of rumors that the ending would find some of the Avengers killed off, especially Steve Rogers. But after all the fighting, none of the Avengers met their fate, with Rhodey as the only one sustaining a serious injury. So why did all the superheroes survive?

In a recent Q&A following a Los Angeles screening of the movie (via HitFix), Joe and Anthony Russo and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige discussed their decision behind the disintegration of the Avengers and the important reason none of them died. For Civil War‘s story to make emotional sense, it was essential to show the superhero unit falling apart.

“The ending was always more about fracturing the team completely before getting into Infinity War,” Feige explained. The Avengers had to become divided to lead into the next film, but a death in the family would’ve changed that dynamic. Joe Russo explains how a death would’ve brought the team back together by igniting a sense of empathy among the superheroes:

We talked about lots of potential characters dying at the end of the movie. And we thought that it would undercut what is really the rich tension of the movie, which is this is Kramer vs Kramer. It’s about a divorce. If somebody dies, it would create empathy, which would change and allow for repair, and we didn’t want to do that.

Anthony Russo added that Civil War had to be more about that disintegration than about a loss, saying, “The tragedy is the family falls apart. Not that the family falls apart and then somebody dies.” The trio figured that Rhodey’s injury would be enough of an emotional blow from all the fighting, but not too much of an upset to reunite the team. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t consider axing some characters. Joe Russo said they considered killing off Captain America at one point, clarifying that the directing duo often consider every possibility. Even though the titular Avenger didn’t necessarily die at the end of Civil War, the film did mark a significant turn for Steve Rogers’ superhero.

The Russo brothers recently spoke about the meaning of the film’s ending, which finds Chris Evans’ Captain America dropping his shield. Steve Rogers shed his superhero identity and now Captain America is no more. “[It’s] him admitting that certainly the identity of Captain America was in conflict with the very personal choice that he was making,” Joe Russo said. We know Rogers will be back for Infinity War, likely fighting Thanos, but it’s unknown what identity he’ll be fighting under.

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