Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. In honor of Avengers: Infinity War coming out this month, all April OTPs will be from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Up first: Steggy.
Who Are Steggy?
Steggy is the ship name for Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter from Captain America. It’s a portmanteau of their names.
Look, if you don’t know who Steve Rogers is, you may be living under a rock. Steve Rogers is Captain America, perhaps the most famous hero in the entire MCU. He’s also — in the MCU, at least — known as the First Avenger, since his origin story takes place in the 1940s.
Steve Rogers was a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who wanted to take on the world. Unfortunately, his body wasn’t in line with his spirit. He suffered from numerous ailments, such as asthma, that limited his ability to do different tasks. When World War II came around, Steve wanted nothing more than to fight — but he was constantly rejected based on his health.
His chance came when Dr. Erskine was seeking candidates for Project Rebirth, an experiment to create the perfect soldier. Erskine saw that Steve had great heart and was a genuinely good person, so chose him for the experiment. Project Rebirth was a success; Steve ended up a supersoldier with augmented abilities.
However, when Erskine is killed, Steve is labeled an untested experiment and withheld from the field. Instead, he performs at fundraising efforts. However, when he found out that his best friend, Bucky Barnes, was captured, Steve went AWOL and stormed a Hydra fort by himself.
Along with Bucky and other rescued captives, Steve begins to dismantle Hydra’s efforts in Europe. However, it doesn’t end particularly well. After discovering that Hydra plans to bomb New York City, Steve sacrifices himself to stop them. He crashes a warplane in the Arctic, where he lies buried in ice for 70 years.
Steve will later be found and thawed by SHIELD. He becomes a member of the Avengers team and works for SHIELD in the modern day.
Peggy Carter was a Strategic Scientific Reserve liaison who worked on Project Rebirth. Originally a Bletchley code breaker, Peggy is recruited into Special Operations based on a recommendation from her brother. Although at first, she is hesitant, Peggy longs for adventure and the chance to make a difference, so she accepts the opportunity.
Among other things, Peggy was part of the recruiting process for Project Rebirth. She worked to help Erskine and Colonel Phillips weed out the subpar soldiers. Peggy is actually the one to escort Steve to the laboratory once he is selected, allowing her to get to know him a bit better.
Later, Peggy is one of the few people to understand Steve’s frustrations when he is denied field work. Steve has fought so hard to get into the army, finally gets his chance… only to find out he still can’t go fight. As a woman in a war, Peggy understands being underestimated and held back. She helps Steve storm the Hydra fort to rescue Bucky.
There’s definite chemistry between Steve and Peggy, but Steve is awkward AF and doesn’t know what to do. He’s not used to women being interested in him. He has no idea how to talk to women. But Peggy sees the goodness inside Steve — saw it even before he became Captain America.
When Steve goes down in the Arctic, Peggy is the last person he talks to. He radios her to tell her goodbye. Although Peggy begs Steve not to do it, saying they can find a solution, he won’t budge. They tearfully say goodbye in their own way — planning a date they both know will never happen.
After the war, Peggy continues to work for the SSR, where she pushes back against sexism. She eventually founds SHIELD and becomes its director.
Why is Steggy OTP?
Steggy is the worst kind of ship — the one that’s absolutely perfect but just. not. meant. to. be. The chemistry between Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell is palpable. They work so well together. Each encapsulates their own character perfectly, but together they show hints at what could have been — something truly magical.
When tragic circumstances rip Steggy apart, it really is heartbreaking. They could have changed the world, together. Sure, they individually each made their mark. But think of what they could have done if they had remained together. Think of the good they could have done.
Are Those Your Only Options?
On their own, Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers are each remarkable individuals. They both possess strong moral fiber, a steel of spine, and an innate caring for their fellow humans. But when you put them together? They feed off each other, becoming more than just the sum of their parts.
This is most clearly seen in the way Peggy encourages Steve to be all he can be. Steve wants more than anything to fight and thinks he’s gotten his chance thanks to Project Rebirth. When he is held back from the field, he feels frustrated. He agrees to do war bond shows to raise money, thinking he can still help.
But it doesn’t get rid of his frustrations. He knows that he can do more to make a difference in this war. Peggy is the one who helps him see that there could be another way. Steve sees himself as a dancing monkey — but Peggy reminds him he could be more. She prods him to think of his options broadly, rather than limiting himself by listening to others.
Steve doesn’t push Peggy to become better so openly, but his influence in her life is definitely clear. After Steve “dies,” Peggy is left to find her way in a world after war. What can she do now? Women were expected to go back to being housewives now that the men are back — but that’s not Peggy.
So Peggy puts all her energy into the SSR. It was what brought her to Steve, but it also allows her to make a difference. She focuses on living up to Steve’s example. Even when her work at the SSR is frustrating and she feels like she’s accomplishing nothing, she looks to Steve to keep her going. Even in memory, he helps her become better.
What really makes Steggy ideal is that we have two people coming together as equals in a time when men and women were truly viewed as unequal. For Peggy, being a woman meant that she was limited by society. She could never truly do all she wanted to because she was seen as lesser.
Steve understands this, to a point. Before Project Rebirth, Steve is coded as disabled (to a degree). His health issues hold him back from achieving all he can just as sexism holds back Peggy. Both of them chafe at restrictions and want to do more, but are unable to truly overcome their barriers.
It’s easier for Steve, of course. After the experiment, he is suddenly an ideal specimen of manhood. No one can say he’s not fighting fit anymore. Sure, he still gets held back some, but it’s no longer a case where he’s seen as lesser than by society at large because of something outside his control.
So it would be easy for Steve to dismiss Peggy after that point. They may have bonded over their dismissal by society, but Steve is no longer being dismissed. But Steve never forgets who he was before Project Rebirth. He remembers what it was like to be held back, and never treats Peggy as anything less than his full equal.
That’s what makes it all the more heartbreaking when they are separated. Steve was one of the very few people who believed in Peggy’s full potential. Without him, she is thrust back into a world of limiting misogyny. She has to fight for every shred of respect. For his part, Steve has lost a person who understood him for who he used to be, who knew he was more than just Captain America.
What’s Next for Steggy?
Tragedy. That’s really all that’s left (which is sad because it’s almost all we’ve gotten so far). Peggy and Steve were separated by circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Peggy lives her life as best she can, but she suffers from being without Steve. In Agent Carter, we see her attempts to do her best.
Steve is found in the new millennium and must adjust to a world completely unlike the one he knew. Peggy is still alive at this point, but she is old and seemingly suffering from memory loss. So while they do technically reunite, it’s beyond the point of any hope. Then, sadly, Peggy dies in Captain America: Civil War.
So there really isn’t much of a way forward for Steggy — but it is Marvel, so you never know. With the infinity stones in play, I’m crossing my fingers for Peggy to pop back up in Infinity War or its sequel. Of course, I’m probably way wrong — Steve is far more likely to join Peggy in death than she is to join him in life.
Is Steggy Canon?
Sort of? It’s a tale of tragedy because they were essentially canon, but lost their chance. Peggy and Steve do kiss in The First Avenger, and it’s clear that — had Steve not been lost — they would have become something. So close, and yet so far.
Instead, since both Peggy and Steve had continuing adventures (Peggy in her own show Agent Carter and Steve in The Avengers movies and the Captain America sequels), we get to see them paired off with other characters.
Agent Carter did alright by Peggy. Daniel Sousa is introduced as another SSR agent who respects and values Peggy. Although they hit some bumps along the way, it seems like it would be a good pairing — but the show was (tragically) canceled before we could see it really play out.
Steve, on the other hand, is subject to some of the worst pairings I’ve seen. Canonically, the MCU wants to pair him off with Sharon Carter — Peggy’s niece. I’m sorry, but that’s just super creepy. Especially when they kiss like right after Peggy’s funeral. Uncool. Fan-wise, I’m adamantly opposed to Stony — both Steve and Tony deserve better.
Steggy will always be the one that got away — we were so close to having two great characters in a good, loving, equal relationship. But Steggy was lost and is unlikely to ever become anything more.