This article contains spoilers for the first episode of The Falcon and Winter Soldier.
Over 13 years and over 23 films (and one show), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has maintained a loyal fan-base that has showered immense love on the multi-billion dollar franchise. However, all of this changed due to an eight-second cameo in The Falcon and Winter Soldier.
In the first episode of TFATWS, we see Sam Wilson turn Captain America’s Vibranium Shield into government, despite Steve Rogers wishing to carry on his legacy. Sam, according to Anthony McKee, is recovering from the loss of his friend and leader, and feels that he does not yet deserve to do so. He says that the shield looks like ‘it belongs to someone else.’
However, by the end of the episode, we see Sam’s shock as the government hand over the shield to a ‘new’ Captain America. His name has not yet been mentioned on the show, but he is John Walker, played by Wyatt Russell.
According to the government, people are recovering from the aftermath of Thanos’ ‘blip’, with half the population missing and reappearing. This Captain America is about to inspire and reunite people. However, Sam is not very confident as he watches his TV screen flicker. That Cliffhanger first episode ends.
A lot of Marvel fans were already aware of this development, with promotional clips and leaked photos. However, what the studio could not imagine was the intensity at which fans were disappointed that the show started a new Captain America that was not Sam. #NotMyCap started trending on Twitter with people making fun of this new character on the micro-blogging site.
So, why do people hate him so much? ‘Backlash’ is multidimensional in itself. First, a large section of Twitterati is mourning the fact that Chris Evans has no chance. These people are comparing actors and not characters, which is, frankly, a bit unfair and unnecessary.
Secondly, a lot of people are defining it as ‘fun leg-pulling’. This means that people are clearly aware that there is a very high probability that Sam Wilson will be legitimate Captain America by the end of the series. They are just swinging on the band as the character cannot be liked.
On the other hand, like every internet ‘war’, people defend the character, saying that he is only brought up as an obstacle for Sam and Bucky.
Then there are fans who are really concerned that if, instead of the likes of Steve, they choose John Walker as the new Captain America, because in the comics, the character becomes Captain America for some time. But more on that later.
Remembered by opposing fans, the makers seem to have introduced this new Captain America to give another example of racism on the show. Heroes such as Sam Wilson, who acted as an Avenger in many campaigns, and most importantly against Thanos, were not persuaded by the government to become Captain America. In fact, the government acted against its will by handing the shield over to someone else. It was clear that the organization was uncomfortable with the idea of a black person being their leader.
Who is John Walker and is he a friend or foe?
To say that the legacy of this character is complex would be an understanding. He first appeared in Captain America # 323 in 1986. He obtained his superpower from Power Broker, a corporation that experiments on his customers by giving them supernatural power with the help of a mad scientist. John Walker identifies the Super Patriot, who is extremely and publicly critical of Captain America. He is an anti-hero figure in Marvel Comics, and is hot-headed and misguided. However, he is shown the blame in his own way by Steve Rogers.
The US government collapsed after Steve became captain (similar to the Sokovia Accord in Captain America: Civil War), replacing John Walker. Even though he disagrees with Captain America, he wants to honor this legacy. However, he breaks under intense pressure and becomes increasingly violent. This is the first indication that John Walker is not good at TFATWS.
In the comics, Steve Rogers and John Walker team up to defeat Red Skull. John convinces Steve to take back the position of Captain America. The government then faces Walker’s death and gives him a new identity as a ‘US agent’. The US agent then goes on to his adventures.
What does the new Captain America mean for The Falcon and Winter Soldier?
Simply put, it is entirely up to Marvel to take us for a wild ride. Remember how the fake Pietro ‘civilian’ Ralph Bohner turned out in Vandevision? We don’t know what Marvel has planned, but from the looks of it we can make some guesses. At first, we think that Sam and Bucky will reluctantly accept the new Captain America. Both have to deal with Flag Smashers, an anonymous group of terrorists who are the show’s primary villains. On the other hand, the Sokovian villain Helmut Zemo from the Civil War is back, and we know how easily he can brainwash Bucky.
However, what we think will happen is that John Walker will abuse his power as Captain America. He may have worse intentions and may have joined hands with the other two groups. Since we know that Sam will eventually train with Steve’s shield, he (and Bucky) will also go up against John Walker. However, the only way to ensure this is to wait for the next five weeks.
Falcon and Winter Soldier is directed by Kari Skogland and produced by Malcolm Spellman. It also stars Emily VanCamp and Daniel Bruhl in lead roles.