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Wyatt Russell on what drives John Walker’s dark actions

John Walker
Wyatt Russell as John Walker in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

John Walker is about to go down a dark path, and Wyatt Russell loves it. 

The actor is opening up in an interview on how the new Captain America’s brutal actions on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier only prove why he took on the role in the first place. 

Walker’s fall

For the first four episodes of the series, John Walker seemed to mean well as the new Captain America. He couldn’t match Steve Rogers’ courage or morals, but Walker really wanted to do his best living up to the example.

However, Walker was also set in doubt after being defeated in fights and so secretly took a version of the Super-Soldier Serum from the Flag-Smashers to enhance his abilities.

When Karli killed his best friend Lemar (Cle Bennett), Walker snapped and, in full view of a crowd of witnesses, murdered a Flag-Smasher with Captain America’s iconic shield. 

Speaking in-depth to Esquire, Russell stated that Walker’s actions were brutal and yet also a “grey area” that pulled him to the role in the first place. 

“Not everybody agrees with [this], but if you’re going to go fight a war, you kind of need that guy. Because I guarantee you from the stories that you hear when you hear war stories, if you don’t have that guy, it’s very difficult. Sometimes, they go overboard and do things that are wrong. That’s what makes him an interesting character. It’s in the gray area. He kills Nico with a shield. Well, Nico’s that guy, but he didn’t deserve to be killed by a shield. But he’s a bad guy. [Walker] is what we look at now where he’s basically just an overzealous cop. He’s an ex-cop. He uses excessive force to get what he wants done, and that’s not OK today.”

“It’s partly why I liked it. People were going to hate it. I knew it. That’s the reason you do it. That’s the point. You elicit that response, and it’s like, Great, it’s working. I’m the kind of person [where] the gray area is a place that you must live. If you don’t live there, you’re going to have a very difficult time in your life trying to figure out who you are, because you’re limiting the kinds of questions you can ask yourself and ask others… What this character hopefully brings to people is the idea that there’s a gray area in him—and that in life, there’s a gray area all around us every day. “

Walker’s next move

Wyatt Russell
Wyatt Russell as Captain America Pic credit: Marvel Comics

After being defeated by Sam and Bucky, a military tribunal stripped Walker of the Cap name and discharged him. This just added to Walker’s already fragile mental state as he kept insisting none of this was his fault. 

The post-credits scene showed Walker melting down his medals to build a brand-new shield. Russell states this is a meaningful act as Walker had long felt deep-set guilt over getting an award after losing several of his men in combat. 

“Really, at the end of the day, that Medal of Honor represents failure. It represents failure. And he’s trying desperately, desperately to right his wrong. By going down that rabbit hole, he’s making things worse, you know? He only ever knew one family—and that was the United States Military. He cared, and he fought for them, and he loved it, but now they’ve taken it. They’ve used him, and he feels used and doesn’t feel understood. Everybody has now turned their back on him, which is very dangerous to do to a person like that who now has super-soldier serum in his veins.”

This indicates the season finale will involve Walker taking on the role of U.S. Agent to battle Sam Wilson.

Walker and Val

Countessa Val
Julia Loius-Dreyfus as Countessa Valentina Fontaine on Falcon and the Winter Soldier Pic credit: Marvel

A major turn in the episode is when, after being discharged, Walker is approached by a woman identifying herself as longtime Marvel spy Countessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine played by multiple Emmy Award winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

Russell reveals that he had no idea Louis-Dreyfus would be in the series but is looking forward to more of her in the MCU. 

It’ll be endlessly interesting because she’s endlessly interesting. I think people are going to think one thing and get a little bit of another because she’s such a great actress and you’ve seen her do feats for the past, however many years. This is a very different type of character for her. I’m excited for whatever comes with that. I don’t know. I have no idea what’s going to come of it, but I hope something does. It would be amazing to work with her.”

The actor added that he knows of the backlash he’s gotten as Walker. “And I love it,” he stated. “And I want everyone to like it and be great, but if I can look back and say, I did it, I really put my all into it? I can sit back and just accept the criticism, whatever way it comes. And I’m OK with that.”

However, Walker’s final path works out, Russell makes it clear he doesn’t mind how much MCU fans hate his Captain America as he enjoyed this complex character.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 finale streaming on Disney+ April 23.

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