Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for the premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
There’s a new Captain America in the MCU and not everyone is happy about it.
While it had been buzzed about for some time, the premiere of The Falcon And the Winter Soldier confirms that John Walker (Wyatt Russell) has become the new Captain. The actor is now promising this Cap will differ significantly from Steve Rogers.
Getting the shield
The series premiere had Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) giving Steve Rogers’s shield to the Smithsonian. In a warm speech, Sam summed up how he didn’t feel ready to live up to Steve’s legacy, and as far as he was concerned, Captain America should be retired for good.
But at the end of the episode, Sam was stunned to see the government ignoring his wishes to give the shield to a new Captain America. This is John Walker who, in the comics, took over when Steve briefly stepped down as Captain America rather than become a government agent.
Walker’s comics version later became U.S. Agent and is known for a rough attitude and not playing very well with others. While he loves America, Russell’s darker views of how to fight for it often have him clashing with Steve and Sam.
Russell (the son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who played Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2) told USA Today that Walker may not have the same attitude but has the same pressure to live up to grand expectations.
“I don’t think there’s really been many MCU characters who’ve had quite the dilemma he’s had in terms of trying to fit into this sort of moralistic superhero world. He’s been thrust into this role as Captain America and he’s going to do it his way, and he wants to do it right. But his way is a very specific way that he has learned through being basically a trained human hunter. I mean, that’s what Marines are. They’re not Steve Rogers, they’re not the same. They’re not like Boy Scouts anymore. They’re a little bit more gnarly.”
Another clear difference is that, being from modern times rather than the 1940s, Walker’s views of America will be far different than Steve Rogers’ or even Sam’s. This means a Cap who’s willing to get his hands dirty.
Cap vs Falcon
From Sam’s point of view, the government betrayed him by giving the mantle of Cap to someone who never even knew Steve Rogers. But Russell indicates that conflict will show Walker isn’t a bad guy as he is attempting to do his best in the role.
That includes the fact that, unlike Steve, Walker doesn’t have the Super-Soldier Serum giving him a physical boost in combat. Thus, he’s truly a normal, if highly trained, soldier thrust into a perilous world.
Russell summarized how he’ll be using the fan expectations to help his performance. Just as many in the MCU will judge the new Cap by the example of Steve, Russell knows he’ll be judged against Chris Evans.
“He’s perfect. Who else can play Captain America like Chris Evans? Nobody. And what’s good about this show is that it takes that in hand, where it’s like, ‘Well, who else is going to (expletive) play Captain America? This guy?'”
So far, the only scenes of Walker in the series are his introduction in the new uniform. Future episodes will feature his experience as a soldier, explaining why the government chose him for this role.
The comic book character is known for wrestling with his own standing and living up to Cap’s example, which adds to his troublesome attitude. Russell acknowledges that will remain in this version as well.
“There’s always an element of reality (in the show) where it’s like, well, sometimes you need that guy, and it’s not always pretty. It’s fun to play those characters because they’re always at odds with themselves. They’re always at odds with their own abilities and with their own moral compass. They know what is right, kind of, but they also want to win and they battle with that.”
The physical trials
Russell (whose previous major roles included the TV series Lodge 49 and The Good Lord Bird) acknowledged the role’s greatest challenge was adjusting to the new Captain America suit.
“Hot. Very difficult. Painful,” he says, describing the “stiff” outfit. “My shoulders kinda got screwed up and things started to hurt just because of the position that the suit would put you in all day.”
It’s expected that Walker and Sam will eventually battle for who gets the shield, but the actor says he’s ready for a divisive fan reaction.
“People are probably going to hate it and some people are going to love it. Hopefully, they don’t hate me too much,” he adds. But “it would be an honor, I guess, to be disliked in the Marvel universe.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming new episodes every Friday on Disney+.