There’s a new Captain America…and it’s not Sam Wilson.
A newly released clip for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier contains a brief but notable confirmation that as the show begins that the Falcon will not be wielding Cap’s shield but rather Wyatt Russell’s John Walker.
This indicates, among other conflicts, a battle for the shield and Cap’s legacy will dominate the series.
When Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) retired as Cap at the end of Avengers: Endgame, he handed the shield to former partner Sam Wilson aka the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The Falcon is prepared to work with Cap’s former partner Bucky (Sebastian Stan) who’s still recovering from his decades as the brainwashed Winter Soldier.
The clip has the pair in a hanger arguing with Sam bringing up how “we always face one of the Big Three: androids, aliens or wizards.”
When Bucky mentions that wizards don’t exist, Sam mentions Doctor Strange. He’s surprised to hear Bucky knows about Gandalf with Bucky responding he read the original Hobbit book in 1937.
The clip shows the “buddy cop” banter of the pair but more interesting is that as they leave, the background shows a poster on the wall of John Walker in a new uniform holding the famous shield with the words “Cap’s Back!”
Who is John Walker?
A proud soldier, John Walker began his superhero career as the Super-Patriot who criticized Cap as being behind the times.
When Steve Rogers quit as Captain America rather than become a government stooge, Walker was chosen as his replacement. While meaning well, Walker became a brutal fighter who often killed enemies and was secretly manipulated by the Red Skull.
Steve (in a new darker costume) defeated Walker to take back the Cap mantle. Walker then took Steve’s replacement outfit and his own shield to atone for his actions as U.S. Agent.
Walker worked with the West Coast Avengers and Force Works before becoming a government agent. The U.S. Agent has bounced around several superhero teams, known for his tough manner, ego, and trying to escape Cap’s shadow.
Who wields the shield?
Walker chosen as Cap was hinted at in the show’s previous trailers. This indicates that the U.S. government has decided that Walker is more “presentable” as Cap than Sam is.
On-set pics include Walker shown in uniform and nursing injuries, indicating he’s a war hero who the public might trust more than Sam. It should be remembered Sam fought the government in Civil War which might work against his public image.
Another factor is that the MCU is recovering from “The Blip” where half the planet (including Sam and Bucky) was turned to dust and returned five years later. It’s possible Walker was a soldier at that time, which may add to the government making him the new Cap over someone who wasn’t around for that troubled period.
This would explain why Sam appears upset in several promos and clips. He was looking forward to living up to the promise to honor Steve only to have the Cap name given to someone who never knew Rogers.
It does appear that Sam will eventually take on the Cap mantle as other trailers show him wielding the iconic shield. Mackie and the show’s producers have also discussed the importance of a black man taking on such a famous role in today’s world.
The producers have been tight-lipped on Walker’s role in the show with the actor himself not as open in interviews. While the focus will be on Sam and Bucky taking on Helmet Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), it’s possible Walker may be an antagonist as well.
The government may decide to send the new Cap after these “rogue” operatives as he and Sam fight for Cap’s legacy. Thus, amid the other conflicts, the series’ true battle may end up being who will wield the shield.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ on March 19.