We’re now only a week away from Marvel Studios’ second stab at an MCU streaming series, Falcon and The Winter Soldier. While Wandavision played with the notion of the titular character possibly being a bad guy herself, Falcon and The Winter Soldier seems to be taking the opposite route with an array of villains directly opposing do-gooders Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. The show looks to be politically charged in nature with the titular characters standing their ground against the government’s attempt to further mandate super-heroism. Sam and Bucky will continue their stand-off in a just fashion, holding true to the values passed down from their mentor Steve Rogers. However, it seems like we might be due for another force of resistance that lacks that same morality in the form of the Flag Smashers.
Straight from the pages of Marvel Comics, Karl Morgenthau was a young Swiss boy born into wealth and the world of politics. He had young dreams of one day becoming a politician like his father and pursuing world peace as well as political unity amongst nations. Karl’s childhood was one of constant relocation and social strain due to his father’s political career paths. This forced Karl into introversion with only two clear motifs: the guidance of his father and the pursuit of world peace. After his father was trampled to death in a riot outside of a Latverian embassy, he had one remaining focus in life: that he now would achieve peace through any means necessary. He aimed to achieve his father’s goal of world peace but had no interest in doing it with positive campaigning or peaceful protests. The world had shown Karl their language and he was ready to talk back.
Morgenthau, now fully committed to terrorism, found himself repeatedly up against Captain America while he himself took up his own mantle as Flag Smasher. Both Cap and Flag Smasher were two sides of the same coin. They both sought the same goals but had methods directly in opposition to one another. Flag Smasher even crossed paths with other classic foes of Cap’s, such as US Agent, in desperation to reach his goals. Along the way, he was utilized by several forces of evil in the Marvel Universe such as Roxxon and even The Red Skull himself. Though he continued causing chaos as Flag Smasher, inside Karl was still the hurt little boy his father left behind and at his core only wanted to accomplish the things his father never could.
Marketing for the Disney+ series has picked up substantially in the past few weeks. What we know up to this point is that Flag Smasher is set to make an MCU debut in Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Many of the ongoing themes we expect to see in this series provide us with enough evidence to support that the MCU version of Flag Smasher will be very derivative from the comic books, with some typical MCU flair of course. Karl Morgenthau is set to be gender-swapped as Erin Kellyman will play Karli Morgenthau. Also, instead of directly taking the mantle of Flag Smasher, we will see her lead a group of terrorists who are known as The Flag Smashers. This is a very realistic take on a classic Marvel property and one that we’ve grown accustomed to coming from the MCU. We recently saw a similar gender-swapped role in Ant-Man and The Wasp where another super-villain-terrorist, Ghost, was cast as a female character.
If I were a gambling man, I would be hard-pressed not to say that we’ll likely see Karli, just like Karl, being a puppet to a larger presence behind the scenes. The character has a history of being misguided with good intentions at heart and one of being manipulated. With Baron Zemo confirmed to return as the main antagonist of the show it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pulling strings on both The Flag Smashers and John Walker who will also be apart of the show. As an actress, Erin Kellyman has played another villainous role that was built on misunderstanding in Solo: A Star Wars Story so we’ve seen the actress’s capability of handling a grey character with nuance. Zemo and Karli have the potential to have two very similar origins in the MCU. They both were driven to crime because of the loss of family which was a refreshing origin for Zemo in Captain America: Civil War. A nice twist in the story and overarching connection to the MCU could have Karli’s father being killed in the bombing at Vienna also from Civil War. This could have Karli seeking vengeance against Zemo for being the cause of her father’s death. Or, like Zemo, it’s possible Karli has a vendetta towards the Avengers for being accessories to chaos. There’s no hard evidence to who is friend or foe to Sam and Bucky but we can expect a mind-blowing resolve as our heroes take on Zemo and put up their best