Five years following its release, Captain America: Civil War continues to be one of the most repercussive events in the MCU. The aftermath of the Lagos incident led to the enactment of the Sokovia Accords and worsened the growing divide between organized government and the free enterprise of super-heroism. Most of the Avengers are now either on the run or inactive. Captain America’s stance on the subject was clear: give me liberty, or I’ll just keep doing what I was already doing. As expected, Uncle Sam was not okay with an unmandated vigilante fighting crime on a global level. And the symbolism behind Cap’s identity only stoked the fire. Now, with Steve Rogers decommissioned and seemingly dead to the public, the government is ready to pass the shield… but not to Sam Wilson and not to Bucky Barnes.
In the comics, John Walker had hopes and dreams of being a great war hero like his older brother, passed. Soon after enlisting in the military, Walker comes to realize that it was no longer a time for war heroes. The country was at peace and there was no war to fight. Following his honorable discharge, John strikes a deal with the criminal Power Broker to obtain super soldier abilities and becomes Super Patriot. Immediately at odds with Captain America, John sees Cap unworthy of his title and aims to take the helm for himself. John is eventually bested by Cap only to later take over the role when Steve Rogers enters a voluntary retirement. Unsurprisingly, Walker isn’t quite up to par as Captain America and Steve Rogers later retakes the mantle. Later, under the control of the Commission of Superhuman Activities, Walker returns as US Agent, a government-sanctioned discount Cap who doesn’t share the same values as the Avengers.
In one of the final scenes of Avengers: Endgame we see Steve Rogers, aged by time travel, pass his shield down to Sam Wilson. Teaming up in a buddy-cop drama, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are set to continue Cap’s hero work in the upcoming Disney+ series of the same name. The series originally intended to have a late 2020 premiere before being rescheduled for March 19th, 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Portrayed by Wyatt Russell, John Walker has been confirmed by Marvel to make a debut in the series. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the knowledge that at least some portion of the story revolves around a struggle for the title of Captain America between Sam and the United States Government.
With so much unknown about the series, we don’t have much to speculate on but a good look at Walker’s source material gives us somewhat of an idea. With no Steve Rogers around to vouch for his successor, there’s a good chance we see Sam and Bucky fight to keep the Captain America legacy away from Walker and the government. Our only good look at Walker so far is from a clip featured in both trailers where he is shown entering a packed football stadium during a homecoming game. This is probably one of the few scenes where we see a likable Walker and not the self-righteous, patronizing antagonist that we see him as from the comic book storylines. Wyatt Russell portraying the character also offers a lot of excitement, as the actor’s usual roles are likable poster boys. Scenes of Walker showing his public persona, as well as his private motives, would add a lot of depth where needed.
It’s sure to be interesting to see the direction they take such a complex character. On one hand, Walker has a very complex backstory they could draw from. As Super Patriot and Captain America’s double, he makes choice decisions that make him troublesome from both sides of law and order. On the other, he does have the potential to make an interesting anti-hero for future use in this grounded corner of the MCU. While we’re sure to not see him continue through the MCU as Captain America, he does eventually have to build a legacy his own, assuming he doesn’t die in the show. Walker has the patriotism and looks of Cap with an approach that is against the grain of your typical Avenger. A lot of rumors have swirled in recent years around the possibilty of the MCU’s own Thunderbolts. While Thunderbolt Ross isn’t technically the founder of that team in the comics, the MCU version of that could very well be his own take on the Avengers which Walker would be eligible to join. I’d be surprised to not see Ross make an appearance in Falcon and The Winter Soldier as the last we saw him he was eager to arrest Steve and Sam after their resurgence in Avengers: Infinity War.
Falcon and The Winter Soldier will lead us directly into Phase Four of the MCU where Phase Three left off. Bringing John Walker into the fray as Sam and Bucky face off against villains both new and old only adds to the potential this show has. Marvel Studios’ typical fashion of misdirection could come in handy when dealing with a character with such duality. So while we don’t exactly know what road we’ll see Wyatt Russell take John Walker down, we’re happy he’s here and look forward to his debut this March.