By: Alec Concejero
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an upcoming Disney+ miniseries starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan as the titular Marvel Comics characters Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier) respectively. The series is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing the same continuity with the Marvel Studios film franchise.
The events of the series take place after Sam Wilson was handed the mantle of Captain America by Steve Rogers at the end of the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame. Sam Wilson teams up with Bucky Barnes in a globetrotting adventure that puts their abilities to the test. Thrown into the mix is actor Wyatt Russell, best known for his roles as Corporal Lewis Ford in Julius Avery’s 2018 horror film Overlord, and as Dud in the AMC dramedy Lodge 49. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Russell is set to portray John Walker, a militaristic successor to Captain America created by the United States government.
All three characters mentioned above have had their own runs as Captain America in Marvel Comics continuity. John Walker became Captain America after Steve Rogers abandoned the mantle due to the evil schemes of the Red Skull. Walker was chosen to be Captain America by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, making him an agent of the US Government. But although he tried to follow in Rogers’ footsteps, Walker’s lack of emotional control turned him into a brutal Captain America, inflicting large amounts of violence on his enemies with no hesitation to kill. After his run as Captain America, Walker re-emerged as the US Agent, wearing a variation of the costume that Rogers had worn as the Captain, the same costume we see in leaked photos from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set.
Bucky Barnes’ comic book run as Captain America came after Steve Rogers’ “death”. Anticipating his own demise, Rogers wrote a letter to Tony Stark asking him to watch over Barnes and to ensure that the Captain America mantle would be passed on. Upon learning this, Barnes agreed to be the new Captain America, fulfilling his by joining the New Avengers team and even leading the fight against a Skrull invasion in Central Park. Barnes returned to being the Winter Soldier after Rogers came back from being time displaced.
The latest person to take over the role of Captain America in the comics is Sam Wilson. After Rogers physically aged into an old man, he appointed Wilson as his official successor. Donning a winged version of the costume and wearing goggles instead of the classic wing-tipped cowl or the MCU-inspired helmet, Wilson forged his own path as Captain America, leading his own Avengers team and even appointing a successor to the Falcon mantle in Joaquin Torres, whom he trained as his sidekick. Wilson remained Captain America until Rogers was restored back to his youthful state and reclaimed his superhero identity.
This brings into question who will don the iconic red, white and blue costume of Captain America in the upcoming series. Chances are Sam Wilson will lace up his boots as the new Captain, as teased at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Although considered a less likely candidate, Bucky has as much of a claim to the Captain America identity as anyone, as he has been Steve Rogers’ best friend and partner for the longest time and has proven himself to be a worthy successor and a hero in his own right. Let’s not forget that that we’ve also seen John Walker holding Captain America’s vibranium shield in leaked photos, which brings up questions about why the shield is in Walker’s possesion and if he is the official government-sanctioned successor to Steve Rogers as Captain America.
The beauty of the MCU, however, is that they can create a completely new story that doesn’t necessarily have to follow comics continuity. For all we know the character of John Walker could be one of the good guys and teams up with Falcon and Winter Soldier, or perhaps he could be a villain who uses Captain America’s shield to vanquish his foes. From the leaked images alone, it seems as if Wyatt Russell will be portraying John Walker under the guise of the US Agent, as the costume captured on camera is a spitting image of what he wears in the comics. So it’s down to either Falcon or the Winter Soldier to take up the mantle of Captain America.
My own personal take is that it’s time to push for the representation of people of color in mainstream superhero media, especially in light of the passing of Chadwick Boseman and the legacy he left as Black Panther. And what better way to honor that legacy than by making Sam Wilson Captain America? Either way, any Marvel fan would be in for a thrilling ride, because the MCU rarely disappoints.
Who do you think is the next Captain America? Share it with us in the comments section below!