Concept art from Marvel's upcoming Falcon & Winter Soldier TV series confirms that Sam Wilson and Bucky Barners are about to take on an evil Captain America. The MCU's Phase 4 is very different to anything that's gone before, with new content divided between more blockbuster movies and studio-budget TV shows that are exclusively available on Disney+.
One of the most exciting is the currently in-production Falcon and Winter Soldier, which will be set in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. Endgame's final scenes included Steve Rogers passing on his shield to Sam Wilson, appointing him as his successor. But the title of Falcon & Winter Soldier had long suggested there was going to be a major plot twist, and that Sam wouldn't just get to suit up as Captain America straight away. That was apparently confirmed when Marvel announced that Wyatt Russell would be appearing as the US Agent; in the comics, this character was the government's pick for Captain America, and many viewers had assumed that would be true in the MCU as well.
This seems to have been confirmed by official concept art for Falcon and Winter Soldier, released as part of the launch of the Disney+ streaming service. While the US Agents's costume is clearly evocative of his comic book incarnation, it's been visually modified to be reminiscent of Captain America's MCU suit, and he's even carrying the shield. This perfectly sets him up as the next Captain America - but that doesn't mean he'll be a hero.
In the comics, John Walker was originally introduced as the villain called the Super-Patriot. He was created by writer Mark Gruenwald to be the thematic opposite of Steve Rogers, a symbol of patriotism gone wrong, and in Captain America #333 he took over as the government's new Captain America. Steve Rogers had retired because he refused to report in to the US Commission on Superhuman Affairs, and the Commission considered both Nick Fury and Sam Wilson for the role, ultimately opting for Walker. Unfortunately they'd chosen unwisely, and Walker's sanity began to crumble under the strain of becoming a living symbol. He became increasingly violent, beating enemies to a pulp, and in the end he was taken down by Steve Rogers himself.
This concept art clearly suggests the MCU is adapting the classic story of John Walker's Captain America. It makes sense; Spider-Man: Far From Home revealed that the world believed Captain America died fighting Thanos alongside Tony Stark and Black Widow, suggesting the Avengers kept the time travel secret. That means Sam Wilson will struggle to explain to the public why he's the right man for the job; he can hardly say that an elderly, aged Cap gave him the shield. Instead, the US Government would believe it had the right to choose the next Captain America for itself, and it's unlikely they'd pick a man who spent years on the run because he wouldn't register under the Sokovia Accords.
Of course, all this strongly suggests that Marvel's Falcon & Winter Soldier will be a deeply political series. Mark Gruenwald used the two Captain Americas to pit two different visions of patriotism against one another, essentially turning his story into an exploration of American self-identity. The Captain America films have a similarly political tradition - anyone familiar with Edward Snowden's revelations will find the debate on security versus liberty in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to echo the real world - and it looks as though that will continue on Disney+ as well.
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022