Sometimes the best villains are the ones who think they’re truly in the right.
This seems to be the case for Karli Morgenthau, the leader of the Flag-Smashers, the terrorist group of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Her portrayer, Erin Kellyman, has said how Karli truly believes her group is trying to aid the world no matter how dark their actions seem.
Who are the Flag-Smashers?
In episode 2 of the series, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are trying to stop a hijacked armed convoy. Bucky meets Karli, who at first appears to be a hostage but turns out to be the leader of the Flag-Smashers, who all possess the Super-Soldier Serum.
Sam’s contact, Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez), explains the Flag-Smashers believe the world was better during the five years known as “The Blip” where Thanos dusted half the population of Earth.
The Flag-Smashers are upset at the resources and attention being given to those who returned from five years ago over those who were left behind on Earth, stating “we had a glimpse of the way things could be.” Now, they’re out to restore that “balance” again.
Karli herself appears to be a male version of Karl Morgenthau, the original Flag-Smasher in the comics. The son of a rich diplomat, Karl, was rocked when an angry mob crushed his father and became convinced the only way to “unite” the world was by doing away with any national barriers and identities.
Kellyman explained in detail to The Decider how Karli sees her actions justified and “it’s not black and white but she’s in the middle.”
It’s extreme. But I feel that too like it’s relevant and I think a lot of people feel that what she’s fighting for is equality. She wants things to go back to the way the world was when the blip was happening, right? But she doesn’t agree that 50% of the world’s population should now disappear. That’s not what she’s saying.
She’s saying that the way the people that stayed, the way that they came together, that’s what she wants, and that humanity and that unity that people had when their families and things left, that’s what she wants to replicate.
And I think it probably came from, you know, people going through all of this trauma that their families and friends have disappeared. And so they group together to stay together and support each other. That’s what she’s trying to replicate. That’s what she’s trying to do, whilst also helping the people who were now displaced due to the fact that 50% of the world’s population just came back.
Kellyman is naturally secretive on future events for Karli, merely saying “wait and see” on the Flag-Smashers’ rivalry with the mysterious Power Broker.
Fans can expect to see more of Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres
Meanwhile, Danny Ramirez is being praised by showrunner Malcolm Spellman for his great work on the series and has suggested that more had been planned for the Torres character in the show’s original storyline.
“He was great. I can’t tell you where it’s gonna go, but obviously, he’s not in there for no reason,” Spellman told Entertainment Tonight on YouTube. “He just lights up. If we had had 10 episodes, we had a giant storyline for him built out. But he does have plenty of real estate in these six.”
Spellman also recently explained how the series was planned for ten episodes but time and budget cut it down to only six.
In the comics, Joaquin Torres is a teenager experimented on by Hydra to become a hybrid with actual wings. He ends up following Sam’s example to become a literal high-flying new Falcon.
While it seems unlikely this TV version of Joaquin will follow that mutated path, it’s possible he does end up using Sam’s gear as a new Falcon, that’s if Sam does become the next Captain America.
As the series continues, it seems the next actions of both Karli and Joaquin will continue to affect the world of the Falcon and Winter Soldier.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier streams new episodes Fridays on Disney+.