SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ‘THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER’
Yet again another Marvel mini series has flown by us. It’s hard to believe that 6 weeks have gone by already and that this Friday will close out Marvel’s second miniseries with the finale of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. While there may not be as many Mephisto theories as there were for WandaVision, Sam and Bucky definitely have a lot to tie up in this sure to be epic conclusion. Here are the top 10 things that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier NEEDS to address in the finale.
Who is the Power Broker?
Probably the most theory prone plot thread left to answer in the finale is the identity of the mysterious Power Broker. The puppet master behind the reemergence of the super soldier serum and the warlord of Madripoor has been set up as a key player since episode three; yet since then, the figurehead has been sidelined in favor of the many other character arcs being developed throughout this series, leaving fans to speculate endlessly. At this point there’s no shortage of theories as to who it could be; but the main point of intrigue is whether or not it will be someone we’ve met already or an entirely new character. This late in the series, it would seem a little haphazard to introduce an entirely new player into this game of political espionage. Which is why characters such as Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Sharon Carter or even Secretary Thunderbolt Ross would make the most sense. However, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if we were to receive a last minute twist (Justin Hammer maybe?) as long as the resolution of the series doesn’t crutch upon this reveal. For the sake of not setting expectations as astronomically high as fans did with WandaVision theories, it might be best to assume that The Power Broker is not the end all be all of this story.
What will happen to John Walker?
Wyatt Russell’s portrayal of John Walker Captain America has inspired a wide range of emotional responses from viewers over the course of the past five episodes. Despite what you think of the character, there’s no denying that John Walker has quickly become one of the most compelling antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Starting off as the perfect soldier, and slowly degrading to a downright psychopath his character arc is almost equally as sympathetic as it is horrifying; perfectly resembling the dark legacy associated with the Captain America moniker. It seemed during the penultimate episode that Walker may be too far gone; however, it’s hard to believe that the pieces of him that are still good are completely gone. It’s also hard to believe that Marvel would kill off a character that is arguably just as important to Cap’s legacy as Sam and Bucky are. That being said, will John Walker somehow redeem himself during the finale? Or will he further cement himself in his dark comic book persona as his comic book persona - U.S. Agent? Personally, I’m hoping for the latter with a nice comfy cell saved for him in The Raft next to Zemo.
What will happen to the Flag Smashers?
Similar to John Walker, the antagonist terrorist freedom fighter group known as The Flag Smashers have a rather uncertain fate in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier moving forward. While the organization certainly can’t be allowed to continue operating in this aggressive and terroristic manner, the principles of their cause will never die out unless some real change is made. This brings us back to how Sam stated in Episode 4 that he agrees with their fight but he can’t get behind how they’re fighting it. It’s likely that we’ll see a resolution similar to the Black Panther movie in which T’Challa embraced some of the principles held by Killmonger but in a much less callous way. However, it’s unlikely that Sam and Bucky will be able to make such drastic changes to compromise The Flag Smashers and the GRC to help displaced persons all in one episode. This leads us to believe that the repercussions of “The Blip” won’t be going away anytime soon. In the end though, while The Flag Smasher group may not survive past the finale, we are still left to wonder if their fearless leader Karli Morgenthau will survive or not.
What is up with Sharon Carter?
One thing that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier does not disappoint on, is bringing in all the Captain America easter eggs and related side characters. Sharon Carter/Agent 13 is no exception here. While she may not be in the top class of MCU characters, she is definitely important to the Captain America story making this series the most natural place for us to circle back and expand the post Endgame effects on minor characters such as herself. However, since Sharon first reappeared as a shady art dealer/mobster in Madripoor she’s been pretty hard to read. It’s understandable how she may have had to stoop to some sketchy levels in order to get by as a fugitive all these years, but with each episode we’ve been stacking up more and more evidence to support that Sharon has gone full self-serving anti-hero on us. The most recent piece of evidence being that she sprung Batroc the Leaper from prison to not only seemingly aid The Flag Smashers but kill The Falcon. While many believe this to be a soft confirmation that she is indeed The Power Broker, there doesn’t seem to be much sensical motivation for her to want to restart the super soldier program. In all honesty, this twist wouldn’t be the most compelling. Although she seems to have an unusual amount of access to information and criminal outlets, there’s a high possibility that Sharon is scheming her way through a four dimensional chess game with our main characters. Could she be working to betray the Power Broker, take down the Flag Smashers, get revenge on Sam and Bucky for forgetting about her and get her pardon all at once? Could she be salty that Cap went back in time to live with her aunt after he kissed her in Civil War? Only time will tell.
What are Val’s motivations?
Unlike WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 5 introduced us to a cameo that was not a huge troll on fans. Award winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus made her MCU debut as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine - but just call her Val. For those who were confused as to why this character is so important, Val has an interesting history in the comics that gives us a clue to the larger part she may play in the future. For a long period of time Val was associated with SHIELD not only as an agent but as the love interest for Nick Fury. She soon went on to take the name Madame Hydra when it was revealed that she was a sleeper agent with ties to the Russian government. It was also recently announced that Val was supposed to make her debut in The Black Widow movie which is supposed to spend a lot of time in Russia. After her debut in episode 5 the Marvel Studios team behind The Falcon and The Winter Soldier also stated that they think of Val as a “darker Nick Fury”. This raises a few possibilities for her character. Taking all of these details into consideration along with her recruitment of John Walker and interest in his super soldier abilities, this makes Val the number one contender for The Power Broker. And if we are to believe that she will indeed take on a dark Nick Fury role, it’s very possible that we could see Val start to assemble a team of antiheroes in the wake of a current inactive Avengers team. It’s no coincidence that Phase 4 will be introducing and resurfacing previous darker characters who could easily form a version of The Dark Avengers or The Thunderbolts: John Walker, Baron Zemo, Taskmaster (Black Widow), The Abomination (She Hulk). To make things even crazier, during Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion storyline, Val was revealed to be a Skrull in disguise. Essentially the possibilities are equally as endless as they are exciting for Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the MCU. Hopefully the finale will give us a little more of what’s to come. If not...we’ll have to wait until Black Widow debuts.
Where does Bucky’s arc go from here?
Although the series title includes both of their names, and they’re both Cap’s so called “wingmen”, it’s safe to say that Falcon has been more of a focal point during this series than Bucky has. Out of all of the “second tier” Avengers, the Winter Soldier might have one of the most interesting backstories; and most would agree that seeing Bucky go full blown Hydra on people in that first episode flashback was one of the best parts of the series. However, it feels as if his present day persona has been toned down to convey that he is a man who never wanted superpowers in the first place. This is not necessarily a bad thing being that it is a natural progression for his character. Although it doesn’t seem like we are getting enough time to spend with his tragic story beyond some flashbacks to truly feel compelled by his reasoning to keep on fighting. We all expect Bucky to finally make amends with Mr. Nakajima during the finale which is sure to be a great moment for the character. However, it leaves us to wonder where does Bucky have left to grow beyond this point? Will he fully embrace the White Wolf persona and show up in Wakanda? Will we get more of his history as the Winter Soldier? Overall, there’s definitely room to expand Bucky’s role in all of this; but in order to do so they need to dedicate time to his past and relate that to his future as a top tier Avenger instead of Cap’s sidekick once again.
Will the government accept Sam as Captain America?
At this point in the series, it’s pretty obvious that Sam Wilson will be rolling up to the final fight in a shiny red white and blue Vibranium wing-suit to make his Captain America debut. With a rogue John Walker, Batroc and the entirety of The Flag Smashers storming the gates of NYC, there’s no question that the GRC government officials are going to need Captain America now more than ever. The question is, despite Sam and Bucky’s heroics during the finale, will the government remain relentless in their fight for the shield? Or will the finale’s conclusion be enough to sell all parties on the fact that Sam is the only right choice to take up the mantle? If we’ve learned anything from Steve Rogers’ arc throughout the MCU is that Captain America is at his best when he is not a poster boy for the establishment. Despite his allegiance to do good, this is not defined by the rules and agendas of shady officials often leaving him at odds with the government. So don’t be surprised if the general public accepts Sam with open arms but the government merely tolerates him.
Is Steve Rogers dead? Back in time? On the moon?
Although Steve Rogers technically survived throughout Avengers Endgame, it was revealed in Spider-Man: Far From Home that at least a portion of the general public believes Captain America died during the battle with Thanos. Coupled with the fact that Chris Evans essentially announced his retirement from Marvel movies, a new appearance of Cap seemed pretty slim. Fast forward to The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 1 and it seems that nobody wants to give a definitive answer on what exactly happened to old man Steve Rogers after handing the shield to Sam Wilson. Parts of the world have their conspiracies that he’s on the moon but most mentions of the senior citizen super soldier have just amounted to “He’s gone now” (which could mean literally anything). Despite all of this ambiguity, each episode has started to mention Steve more and more even going so far as to reveal that he informed Bucky what he planned to do with the shield at the end of Avengers Endgame. Being that this show is basically a deep dive into the Captain America legacy, it would be the perfect opportunity for Marvel to pull a fast one on fans with a heartwarming surprise from Chris Evans. Overall, it seems pretty obvious that Sam and Bucky know more than they’re letting on; and while some may argue that Steve’s arc should be left to rest after Endgame, after all of the traumatic events of this series, some closure from the Star Spangled Man himself would truly seal the deal on Falcon’s transition into this iconic role. Could we be hoping for too much? Maybe but a fan can dream can’t they?
Will Torres become the new Falcon?
One plot point from last week’s Episode 5 that might have passed over some people’s heads is what became of Falcon’s broken wing suit. For those who need a refresher, after being destroyed by a raging John Walker, Sam’s old wing-suit was left with military sidekick Joaquin Torres who was told to “keep it”. In the comics, Torres does take up the mantle of Falcon once Sam Wilson becomes Captain America; ultimately making this a soft confirmation that we will see Torres again potentially in the finale. The real question is, where will this version of Falcon appear after the series concludes? It’s tough to give a definitive answer being that Torres is too old for a Young Avengers appearance and too young/inexperienced to be called up to The Avengers so quickly. Perhaps Falcon and The Winter Soldier season 2?
How will Sam plan to right the wrongs of the shield’s legacy?
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier so far has been praised on many accounts: it’s high quality action, subtly funny moments, but most of all its social commentary. The entire series is basically dedicated to shattering our previous conceptions of Cap’s legacy and slowly unveiling the larger, more troubling truth. When you think about it, what’s crazy is that Falcon was ready to give up the shield before even learning of the shield’s darker history. The pure amount of pressure and weight of Steve’s good actions alone make it a legacy that he felt couldn’t be touched. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. The troubling nature of the shield’s history - namely the heartbreaking story of Isaiah Bradley - initially only supports Sam’s decision not to take on the mantle. However, it’s only after John Walker’s public homicide and his closure with Isaiah Bradley that he realizes these are reasons to stand up rather than walk away. Ultimately Sam understands he is the logical choice because even though he is deeply affected by the shield’s dark past as a black man and a non super soldier, it’s those reasons exactly why he’s best suited to steer the legacy in a better direction moving forward. That being said, there remains the question of: how will Sam expose the wrongs of the super soldier program? How will he bring some semblance of peace to those who were harmed such as Isaiah Bradley? While he may have control over the shield for the finale, it only makes sense that Sam Wilson definitely can’t finish his transition into Captain America until justice is served on this front.
Written by Jake Zall
Edited by Nick Mandala