After waiting for over a year for the first new Marvel Studios production, fans won’t have to wait long for more following the end of WandaVision. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier officially premieres on March 19th, just two weeks after the finale of Marvel’s first Disney+ series.
WandaVision set the bar high for Marvel’s future streaming endeavors. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (abbreviated to FATWS) will be drastically different in tone and scope than WandaVision. It will be much more traditionally MCU where WandaVision was something totally new for the franchise. Here are some things we’re looking forward to with FATWS and some things we’re hoping for.
Giving underused characters proper development
This should be the biggest focus of any MCU series, but especially ones starring characters from the films who were at times relegated to the sidelines. WandaVision did a beautiful job of rounding out Wanda Maximoff and properly introducing her as one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe as the Scarlet Witch. Plus, the series allowed Elizabeth Olsen to shine as an actress, something that didn’t necessarily come through in smaller parts in the films.
Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier both have had varying degrees of screen time in the films. Bucky has the more development of the two, but even he has way more to offer as a character than what was shown. Both Mackie and Stan are good actors who are getting their own chance to display their talents.
But perhaps the character with the most to gain from this series is Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter. Sharon is such an important character in the comics as a premier agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the love interest of Steve Rogers/Captain America. However, the films decided to have Steve end up with her Aunt Peggy instead of her. Sharon was resorted to being a small part of Steve’s journey. With MCU S.H.I.E.L.D. in ruins and Sharon on the run, there are many possibilities for the former Agent 13 to carve out her own story.
Old and New faces
FATWS features the return of the infamous Baron Helmut Zemo. Zemo is who was responsible for the Avengers breaking up in Captain America:Civil War. Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo differs a bit from the comics Zemo who was a main player in Hydra. This Zemo is a member of the Sokovian military who’s family was killed during the events of Avengers:Age Of Ultron. Last we saw Zemo, he attempted to shoot himself but was stopped by Black Panther, and is now in custody. How did he escape and what is his plan? MCU Zemo was driven by revenge not world domination. What is his goal and motive now that the two biggest names in the Avengers are out of the picture?
The new villain being introduced is John Walker a.k.a. U.S. Agent played by Wyatt Russell. Walker is a fascinating character, as he is essentially Captain America without Steve Rogers’ morality and integrity. He is much more violent and beholden to what the government tells him to do, whereas Steve did what was right regardless of who agreed with him.
Who is the REAL villain?
FATWS has the chance to offer a dynamic that has been lacking in the MCU outside of The Incredible Hulk in 2008. Instead of an evil organization (Hydra) or a rogue government operative (Director Hayward) being blamed for villainous actions, the actual U.S. government itself appears to be the villain. The major conflict in the series is shaping up to be who has the right to claim the shield of Captain America.
We saw at the end of Avengers:Endgame that Steve Rogers essentially passed the shield to Sam. Steve entrusted Sam to carry out the Cap legacy. However, the government may beg to differ. They may see the shield and mantra as not Rogers’ to give but theirs. And they probably don’t have a high opinion of Rogers at the moment anyway. If you remember from Spider-Man Homecoming, he is considered a “war criminal” by some after challenging the Sokovia Accords.
A similar scenario played out in the comics when Walker’s U.S. Agent persona was born. The government balked at declaring either Nick Fury or Sam Wilson the new Captain America. Instead, they gave Walker the new U.S. Agent title and made him a government operative. In this series, the government could view Bucky as too risky considering his past and, much like the comics, see Sam as “unqualified” to be Cap because America isn’t ready for a black Captain America. Which leads us to our next point.
How will the show address race
Anthony Mackie has confirmed that race will play a big part of the series. Rightfully so, as we will see what happens when Steve Rogers, a white man, wants Sam Wilson, a black man, to carry his legacy. But instead, the government decides he isn’t “qualified” or that the country “isn’t ready” and decides to give the shield to John Walker, another white man. There are many dynamics at play here that will be a focal point of the series.
This series will be an opportunity to address social issues that have never been more important than today. It is a difficult topic to discuss and to address appropriately in media, but it is an important topic and discussion that has been at the forefront of society today. Marvel Studios itself has made it known that incorporating diversity is a major goal in future projects. This could never be more important than now, especially after the death of Chadwick Boseman who played Marvel’s most famous black superhero, Black Panther. There needs to be an African-American superhero for children to look up to. It is crucial that Marvel does Mackie and his character Sam Wilson justice in showing him as just that.
What is Bucky Barnes’ role in the future?
Bucky Barnes is, quite literally, a man out of place. He is living in a new time, doesn’t remember a good chunk of his past, has done heinous things in his past, and now has to adjust to it all without the help of his best friend. Steve was the only person Bucky could commiserate with about their situation. With him gone, Bucky now has to find what to do with himself.
At his core, Bucky is a good man like Steve and Sam. But his worldview has been tainted by his violent past and what was done to him by Hydra. He doesn’t necessarily share Steve’s optimism. Where Steve and Sam may see the good in someone who has done wrong, Bucky may just see the wrong. This will be an interesting dynamic thrown into the “odd couple” chemistry that’s at present between Sam and Bucky.
Hints to future Marvel productions and possible cameos/reveals
As with any Marvel content, there’s also sure to be some nods and Easter eggs that give possible hints to what is coming down the line. Hopefully WandaVision’s finale taught us to not put too much stock into them, but they’re still fun to theorize over nevertheless.
One character reveal that is quite likely and would have significant ramifications in the future is that of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross played by William Hurt in the MCU. Ross is the U.S. Secretary of State who presented the Avengers the Sokovia accords in Civil War and is responsible for putting some of them in the Raft. Ross is supposedly in Black Widow as it is set around this time, but with that film being stuck in COVID limbo, we still don’t really know what he’s been up to.
The hot tempered Ross could reappear in FATWS as U.S. Agent’s handler among other things. Having Ross and Zemo interact at any point will intensify the belief that a Thunderbolts series is in the works. For those unaware, the Thunderbolts is the name for a team of villains in the Marvel Universe that are contracted by the government for black ops missions and take their name from their founder, Ross. The team has had numerous iterations but have ben led by Zemo on many occasions.
Another cameo that was at one point considered a sure bet but is now not certain is that of Yelena Belova. Yelena was the second character to take up the Black Widow mantle after Natasha Romanoff in the comics. Another product of the infamous Red Room, Yelena was at first an adversary of Natasha who eventually became an uneasy ally.
We know that Yelena is being played by Florence Pugh in Black Widow and it appears she will be the sister of Natasha rather than a rival spy. Black Widow was originally supposed to release before FATWS, most likely serving as a backdoor origin series for Yelena before she appeared in FATWS. But, with Black Widow’s delay to after FATWS, it’s unlikely the character debuts in the series first.
Off the wall theories we can dream about but probably won’t happen
Now let’s get really weird.
We all know that mutants are coming to the MCU soon, probably within the next 5 years. One of the biggest fan theories about WandaVision was that it would be a way to introduce mutants into the MCU. That never happened. But sooner or later, mutants may begin to pop up for some small cameos in upcoming projects just as a tease.
There’s one mutant in particular who has a unique history with Captain America. And that mutant’s name is Logan. Yes, that Logan.
Now let me stop you right there. No, there won’t be a Hugh Jackman cameo. Wolverine himself is not going to show up in FATWS. We are at least three years away from that role probably even being casted.
BUT it would be great to see him referenced here. In the Wolverine:Origins series, we see that Logan served alongside Cap and Bucky during WWII and helped them take down a Hydra base. The Weapon-X program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton was a continuation of the super soldier project that gave Cap his powers. Maybe Sam and Bucky find an old journal of Steve’s that references a rough and tough Canadian named Logan? Or they find evidence of further super soldier experiments in the years Cap was frozen that yielded undesired results? It’s highly unlikely but anything is possible.
Now there are two of them!
If Thunderbolt Ross does show up, perhaps he ends the series being transformed into his alter ego, the Red Hulk. Director Joe Russo has said that Ross turning into red Hulk was at one point considered for Civil War but was decided against. Screenwriter Christopher Markus has said there was also some consideration for Red Hulk to appear in Avengers:Endgame.
What that all tells us is that introducing the Red Hulk to the MCU has been strongly considered on more than one occasion. However, there is one caveat to keep in mind here. Universal Studios currently has the film rights for the Hulk, and their current deal allows Marvel to use him in the MCU but only in a supporting role. Who knows exactly what the deal entails for a character like Red Hulk. Perhaps Disney/Marvel can use Red Hulk in the same manner. Perhaps not.