‘The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ Easter Eggs, References, And Theories: A Weekly Guide
Who are the Flag-Smashers? Who is Bucky's Wakandan ally? Check here each week for a breakdown of the series' easter eggs and references.
Hello, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier addicts. It is I, Merryana Salem, fresh off the trail from hunting WandaVision easter eggs and references to once again be your weekly guide through all the easter eggs, references and theories.
Every week I will be updating this article with each worthy easter egg tucked away in plain sight in Disney Plus’ latest Marvel series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
Much like our WandaVision weekly guides, this guide will not be spoiler-free. It will very likely not be tin-foil-hat-level theory-guessing-free either. You’ve been warned!
Episode 6: One World, One People
Well, here we are. Another Disney+ Marvel series done, but certainly not dusted. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wrapped up with some fascinating reveals, long owed apologies and tremendous teasers for the future of the MCU.
Sam’s Captain America Suit
In an entrance for the ages, Sam Wilson finally got his debut as Captain America, complete with a badass new suit. Courtesy of the Wakandans via Bucky, we saw Sam open the casing for the suit in the previous episode.
In the finale, we finally see Sam’s new Cap fit in all it is winged-glory. Not only is it complimented perfectly by Sam’s falcon wings, but the design is also a direct nod to Sam’s Captain America outfit in the Sam Wilson: Captain America run of comics.
the new Captain America suit translated over into live action so well pic.twitter.com/VCtwAmwygY
— Luke (@qLxke_) April 23, 2021
It’s worth noting too that when Sam became Captain America in the comics, his first fight was with Batroc in All-New Captain America Issue #1. So, it’s nice his first major fight as Cap in the show is with Batroc too.
The Return of the Nano Mask
Speaking of accessorising, when Bucky runs into Sharon she’s in disguise as a man. Sharon is using Nano Mask technology.
We first saw Nano Mask technology back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where it was used by Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow to infiltrate the World Security Council meeting.
— ًbraelyn / sof ! (@widowsblunt) April 23, 2021
Sharon Is The Power Broker
In a twist we can surely admit many of us saw coming, it turns out that the Power Broker, the series’ big bad villain, has indeed been Sharon Carter all along. The finale sees Sharon admit to selling super-soldier serum, and even kills Karli Morgantheau to cover it up.
Her identity, however, is still unbeknownst to Sam who unwittingly guarantees her a pardon for helping them out throughout the series. After Sharon receives her mid-credit pardon, she practically maniacal laughs.
— jagriti🌿 strax enthusiast (@strangexwitch) April 23, 2021
The twist, though somewhat underwritten, isn’t entirely unfounded. In the comics, the title of the Power Broker is held by various people selling superpowers. Sharon said herself back in episode 3, “at some point I thought if I had to hustle I might as well enjoy the life of a real hustler.” It will be interesting to see her villain arc unfold in the MCU in the future.
John Walker is U.S Agent
After seeing him play arts and crafts in the mid-credits of the previous episode, John Walker appeared to make a thin attempt at redemption when he showed up to help Sam and Bucky in the final showdown with the Flag Smashers. Except, that’s not really what happened.
In a new position bestowed on him by Madame Hydra, aka Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, John Walker is now the US Agent. In the comics, US Agent is a mantle that has been held by both Steve Rogers and John Walker.
— zach (@civiiswar) April 23, 2021
It’s not a mantle associated with villainy, but it is associated with more personal and private interests. Both Rogers and Walker took up the mantle to continue fighting for the America they believed in when the government no longer sanctioned them as Captain America.
Much like his arch in the comics, Walker is U.S Agent as a result of his disillusionment with the government and military institutions. It’s unclear what kind of role he will play in the future, but given his brief tenure as Captain America, I am not confident he’s going to be a good guy in the vein of Sam Wilson, or Steve Rogers.
Once again, its been an honour Easter Egg hunting with you all. Rest in peace to the theories lost along the way. I will be looking forward to seeing Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes as Captain America and The Winter Soldier in the future.
Episode 5: Truth
The penultimate episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has arrived and, boy, was it an emotional one. In what I can safely say is my favourite episode so far, we see Sam and Bucky take a well earned rest from globetrotting to process the truth behind their grief for their bestie, and the multifaceted legacy of Captain America’s shield.
Sam’s Clipped Wings & Passing Them On
In an epic three-way fight between Sam, Bucky and John Walker, Walker literally rips off Sam’s falcon wings. In the aftermath, Sam leaves them behind with none other than Joaquin Torres.
Way back in episode one’s guide, I mentioned Torres does take up the mantle of the Falcon in the comics. It’s very possible that Sam telling Torres to “keep them [the wings]” is the origin for Torres becoming the Falcon as Sam steps into the role of Captain America.
— ً (@photonsblast) April 16, 2021
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
In a brilliant cameo from comedy legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus, we’re introduced to Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. In the comics, Fontaine has a few different roles. Most prominently she is known as super-spy, Madame Hydra.
Madame Hydra is a very powerful Russian sleeper agent who worked for SHIELD and then Hydra. She was also the love interest of Nick Fury in the comics. Originally, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was meant to debut as the character in Black Widow, but COVID-19 release date reshuffles means we’re meeting her here first.
CW // spoilers #tfatws #TheFalconAndTheWinterSoldier
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, aslo knows as Agent 14 or Madame Hydra was supposed to make her MCU debut in Black Widow, so we were supposed to know who she was before #tfatws pic.twitter.com/Krp3vErLss
— kea | tfatws era | ⩔✪ (@GoldenxHabit) April 16, 2021
It’s possible De Fontaine could also be the power broker. She does drop the bombshell that, despite what the government has told Walker, they don’t own the shield. That’s certainly a power brokering move if I’ve ever seen one.
Her future role in the MCU remains to be seen. In the comics, De Fontaine created Femme Force, a group of women super spies featuring none other than Sharon Carter. With her connection to Nick Fury in the comics, it’s also possible she may turn up in the upcoming Secret Invasion series.
Zemo, The Raft and The Thunderbolts
While Walker is getting dishonourably discharged, Bucky heads to the Sokovian memorial to hand Zemo over to the Dora Milaje. Ayo says that she and the Dora are taking Zemo to the Raft.
cw // #FalconAndWinterSoldier spoilers
Can we talk about how the Wakandans are sending Zemo to The Raft, the same place where Trish Walker from Jessica Jones is being held pic.twitter.com/MGSOUlFzFL
— Jay | tfatws spoilers (@jayspatrol) April 16, 2021
MCU viewers will remember the Raft as the maximum security prison that the likes of Ant Man and Sam Wilson himself were imprisoned in for helping Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War. The Raft is a maximum security prison for super humans run by General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross.
In the comics there is a group of heroes known as the Thunderbolts made up of ex-criminals led by none other than Baron Zemo himself. So, it’s possible Zemo has a big role to play in the MCU’s future.
Isaiah Bradley & The Black Captain America
We’ve talked about Isaiah’s role and comic origins from Truth: Red, Black and White over the past few weeks (scroll down to episode’s 2 and 3), and in this episode Sam finally understands who Isaiah is too. In a stunning scene between Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Isaiah (Carl Lumbly), Isaiah explains exactly what happened to him and it’s a story we’ve heard before — but with a very different ending.
Isaiah explains that the reason he was imprisoned and experimented on was for defying orders, going behind enemy lines and rescuing his friends from a prisoner of war camp. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s exactly what Steve Rogers did in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Thinking bout how Isaiah Bradley & Steve Rogers did the exact same thing. (rescued their men against orders) but Steve got praised & Isaiah got tortured for 30 years.The only difference was their race. Shit was racism in 4K pic.twitter.com/Sgegp2PIDD
— 🌻🇿🇲 (@givemeyacoin) April 16, 2021
For Steve, saving his friends turned him from a dancing monkey into a beloved hero. For Isaiah, a Black man, he was tortured relentlessly, and imprisoned. It’s a parallel that speaks to the different standards of humanity Black people live with to white people, even when they take the same actions.
The only escape for Isaiah was faking his own death and being erased from history. In the line, “they erased me. My history. But they’ve been doing that for 500 years.” Isaiah connects the erasure of his story to the collective stories of Black Americans throughout the last half-millennia whose stories were erased by institutional racism.
The Four Captain Americas:
Steve Rogers is who America should have been.
Isaiah Bradley is who America left behind.
John Walker is who America is.
Sam Wilson is who America should be.#CaptainAmerica#TheFalconAndTheWinterSoldier pic.twitter.com/p82EgAHfg2
— Nate Hawley (@hawloffame) April 11, 2021
Isaiah Bradley also mentions that he knew the Red Tails. The Red Tails were the Tuskegee airmen. They were a squadron of Black pilots who were injected and experimented on with Syphilis without their knowledge. These experiments were the real life inspiration for Bradley’s story.
Sam Taking Up The Shield
This is not so much an easter egg as it is me fangirling. But I love that in the sequence towards the end of the episode when Sam is training with the shield we hear the original Captain America theme from Captain America: The First Avenger.
The episode ends with Sam opening up a box given to him by Bucky via the Wakandans. I have a sneaking suspicion its going to be a fabulous new Captain America suit for Sam to officially take up the mantle of Captain America.
// #TheFalconAndTheWinterSoldier spoilers
he trained and worked hard to be able to use the shield all WITHOUT the super serum, just one of the many reasons why sam wilson will be an amazing captain america pic.twitter.com/frXPqncnsk
— taiwo ⧗ (@realscarwitch) April 16, 2021
Is Steve Rogers Dead?
Does anyone know if Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is actually dead? Again, this is not so much an Easter Egg as my own speculations, but surely if he was dead there would have been a very big funeral, just as there was for Peggy in Civil War. There was also nothing in the Captain America Smithsonian exhibit that specified he was dead.
Is Old Man Steve still alive? Is he out there somewhere watching all this unfold on the TV being glad he retired? Will we get a scene of Bucky and Sam visiting their geriatric bestie in an old folks home just like when Steve visited Old Peggy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? I think that would be really lovely.
Episode 4: The World Is Watching
We are officially two-thirds through The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and, boy oh boy, are things getting serious. Episode 4 saw our duo and Zemo go toe to toe with Karli Morgantheu, John Walker, and the Dora Milaje — all culminating in one of the more disturbing scenes in the MCU to date.
Bucky’s Wakanda Rehab
The episode kicked off with a flashback to before the Blip of Bucky’s time in Wakanda. We’ve glimpsed this time period briefly in the end credits of Black Panther, but here we’re treated to a full scene of Bucky’s time there. In the scene, Ayo (Florence Kasumba) tests Bucky’s trigger words that turn him into the Winter Soldier.
The words do inspire flashbacks to his deeds as the Winter Soldier, including scenes from Captain America: Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and when Bucky killed Tony Stark’s parents. However, the words no longer program Bucky into a killing machine. To quote, Ayo, Bucky is “free”.
the way bucky was completely terrified of becoming the winter soldier again and possibly hurting people but then realizing he was finally free breaks my heart he deserves peace and happiness again like he had in wakanda pic.twitter.com/Bvz7mxe0xN
— miris🦋✨ (@jedibeifong) April 9, 2021
Not strictly easter egg talk here, but as a big fan of Bucky’s long-hair look, I was very pleased to see this wee flashback. Also, kudos to Sebastian Stan for some phenomenal emotive facial expressions during this scene.
Sam Wilson, Trauma Counsellor
In a deeply insightful scene between Sam and flag smasher leader, Karli Morgenthau, Sam goes back to his roots as a trauma counsellor. This calls back to when Steve Rogers met Sam back in The Winter Soldier when Sam was hosting group counselling for returned soldiers.
In the comics, this is Sam’s main occupation and what he thrives at when it comes to helping people. Props to Anthony Mackie and Erin Kellyman here.
I just wanna talk about how much Sam Wilson radiates comfort. Like the way he spoke to karli with so much kindness and not hostility, he UNDERSTOOD her and tried to reason with her. Mackie did such a great job acting in this scene pic.twitter.com/lYbesWd7tx
— mary tfatws spoilers (@marvelousxoxo) April 10, 2021
“Power makes a person more themselves.”
There’s a lot of super soldier serum talk in this episode and for good reason. Episode 4 ends with John Walker taking the serum. One line that stands out is Lamar’s line about power making a person more themselves.
The line is a callback to Doctor Abraham Erskine. Erskine was the scientist who created the Super Soldier Serum in Captain America: The First Avenger. The night before Steve takes the serum Erskine explains the serum only enhances what is already innate to the taker.
In the words of Abraham Erskine:
"Good becomes great. Bad becomes worse"
FATWS is filled with so many great contrasts showing the differences between Steve Rogers and John Walker and why Sam Wilson is clearly the right person to take up the shield after Steve's retirement pic.twitter.com/d2txpXt8dF
— Cap-1945 (@Capsicle1949) April 10, 2021
“The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse,” he says to Steve. “This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.”
This is exactly why John Walker should not have taken the serum. Walker is a decorated soldier with no respect for the power he already wields, let alone the power serum would give him. It’s no surprise that his first post-serum act is murder. It’s also why the conversation between Zemo and Sam, where Sam says he wouldn’t take the serum, is important. Sam, like Steve, isn’t after power for its own sake and never has been.
Is Doctor Zola the Power Broker?
If anyone reading this also read my WandaVision easter egg guide, you’ll know I am a sucker for a tin-foil-hat level easter egg conspiracy theory. With WandaVision it was Mephisto, for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? It’s Doctor Arnim Zola.
Hear me out, Doctor Zola was the unhinged Nazi/Hydra scientist that kidnapped Bucky and made him the Winter Soldier. He also made himself into an AI that corrupted SHIELD and the US government from the inside out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
If The Power Broker is real and isn’t Sharon Carter or Zemo then my guess is it’s the “ghost” of Arnim Zola operating out of a server room in Madripoor. #FalconAndTheWinterSoldier pic.twitter.com/nvgHststTs
— Jim Vejvoda (@JimVejvoda) April 11, 2021
Zola is obsessed with power and the super soldier serum. Two things we know that the Power Broker is also obsessed with. Making Bucky into the Winter Soldier was an attempt at creating a super soldier without the serum. We also know Zola’s quite adept at resurrection. In the comics, he is a goofy-looking immortal AI robot that’s very hard to kill.
The fact that all the communication we’ve seen from the power broker has been via text smells a little like AI to me. Even “the power broker is watching” graffiti in Madripoor reminds me of Zola’s “we are everywhere” monologue. Look, it sounds a little crazy, but I just am not feeling the way they’re setting up Sharon, niece of Peggy Carter, to be the power broker.
Episode 3: Power Broker
Prison Break: Baron Zemo Edition
Hands down my favourite sequence in the series so far is this episode’s early sequence of Bucky breaking his ex-handler, Zemo, out of prison. From behind his Hannibal Lector-esque prison glass, Zemo attempts to take Bucky on a stroll down trauma lane by repeating The Winter Soldier’s trigger words. We first heard the words back in Captain America: Civil War. However, they no longer render Bucky a killing machine after his time in Wakanda.
When zemo starting using the trigger words for Bucky I literally screameddddd pic.twitter.com/nci9pjvFbD
— mary tfatws spoilers (@marvelousxoxo) April 2, 2021
Sam: “ We are NOT breaking Zemo out of jail!”
Bucky: “Listen to this TOTALLY HYPOTHETICAL scenario that definitely did NOT happen” pic.twitter.com/jLOfgsPaWs
— lisa (@polter_peeves) April 2, 2021
Unsurprisingly, Zemo offers passage to the maker of the stolen super-soldier serum in exchange for his escape which, thanks to Bucky’s criminal skills, goes down without a hitch. After a quick bicker with Sam, Bucky and Sam agree to let Zemo be their sugar daddy and next minute, they’re flying around in Zemo’s private jet on their way to the lawless haven of Madripoor.
Apart from being a delightful sequence of events to kick off Bucky and Sam’s adventures for the episode, many details of Zemo’s comic origins are fleshed out. Most notably, that he’s a Baron and thus, royalty.
— yonna (@maximoffsivy) April 2, 2021
Zemo went from destroying the avengers and tearing them apart to a rich german sugar daddy baron and weird club dancer real quick
— bi-derman — fatws spoilers (@IR0NSPIDEY) April 2, 2021
In the comics, Zemo’s father, Henrich Zemo, was also a Nazi scientist whose face was burned severely in an experiment gone wrong. Henrich wore a purple mask to cover his facial deformities, the same purple mask we see Zemo don later in the episode.
On Zemo’s private plane, everyone’s new favourite trio have some interesting conversations referencing past events of the MCU. Sam, Bucky and Zemo’s tense conversation covers references to Sam’s imprisonment post the events of Civil War, to reiterating Zemo’s anti-superhero stance to, most notably, Bucky’s ledger.
— kirtan rogers ☆✪ carol day! (@CapnRgers) April 2, 2021
The ledger of names we caught a glimpse of back in episode one turns out to be Steve Roger’s very same notebook he carried in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, where Steve carried it to keep track of pop culture he needed to catch up on, Bucky uses it to record the names of those he must make amends with.
It’s a big ouch moment for Bucky. But, for what it’s worth, I agree with Sam and Zemo’s insistence that Bucky really should listen to Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.
Madripoor & Our First Solid X-Men Reference
My X-Men comic-loving heart leapt out of my chest at the boys arrived on Madripoor. Madripoor is a very small fictional island nation located in Southeast Asia (specifically in the Strait of Malacca) that operates as a lawless haven for any and all operating outside the law.
Like the very real lawless island havens throughout history (such as Tortuga and St. Mary’s Island), Madripoor was originally founded by pirates centuries ago, and continued to be a place with little law and order or extradition.
still thinking about how good madripoor looks pic.twitter.com/EUnVjfSkeZ
— ems (@bucksjoyner) April 2, 2021
In the comics, Madripoor was first introduced in the ’80s and became a notable setting when Wolverine (my problematic fave) takes refuge on the island because he believes the rest of the X-Men are dead. One of Wolverine’s favourite haunts, The Princess Bar can be seen in the background as Bucky, Sam and Zemo make their way through Lowtown.
This is the first time a significant location so specific to the X-Men has been featured in the MCU. While it may just be a setting and the Princess Bar, a neat little easter egg– it’s exciting to see more specific X-Men references creeping their way into the MCU. This version of Mandripoor seems very much under the control of the Power Broker. In case it wasn’t obvious from the ‘big brother is watching you esque’ graffiti boldly reading: “THE POWER BROKER IS WATCHING.”
— yumna (@cartersfilms) April 2, 2021
Dr Wilfred Nagel
Of course, our treasured trio are not in Madripoor to sightsee, they’re there to find Dr Wilfred Nagel. The man behind the new super-soldier serum that’s going around.
Nagel is a figure (asshole, really), adapted directly from the comic, Truth: Red, White, and Black, the same story that introduced Isaiah Bradley who we met in the last episode. The comic sees Isaiah become the Black Captain America after he is the only one to survive Nagel’s experiments on 300 African American soldiers.
Isaiah Bradley is important Bc he shows how a black hero is treated
Sam knows how black hero's are treated
That’s a heavy aspect of Sam taking up the mantel that Bucky doesn’t understand
— Jimmy Folino – BLM & #StopAsianHate (@MrNiceGuy513) April 1, 2021
In the comics, Nagel’s super-soldier program draws horrific inspiration from the very real Tuskegee Experiments in which 399 Black American men with syphilis were falsely promised free healthcare in exchange for their participation in a 6-month syphilis study. The study went for 40 years and none received healthcare.
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, however, Nagel’s experiments more evoke the fate of Henrietta Lacks. Like Isaiah Bradley in the show, Lacks was an African American whose blood and tissue samples were used without her consent to create future discoveries. Lacks’ stolen samples even played a role in creating the polio vaccine. Neither she nor her kin were compensated at the time. Isaiah Bradley and Dr Nagel’s narrative in this series are a clear reference to the anti-Black histories of science and medicine.
What Is Sharon Carter Up To?
This episode saw us reintroduced to Sharon Carter, neese of none other than Steve Rogers’ wife, Peggy. The ex-SHIELD agent now turned renegade wasn’t too pleased to see Sam, Bucky and Zemo in Madripoor. But neither would you if you’d lost your dream job and was labelled an enemy of the state for helping Sam save Bucky from Zemo in Captain America: Civil War.
Sharon is now a lot more cynical than the optimistic agent we first met in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. After helping Sam, Bucky and Zemo find Nagel and fighting off a bunch of John-Wick-level-keen mercenaries, she’s seen getting into a car and referring to Sam and Bucky as a big problem.
— elo ⧗ tfatws era (@doraemaynat) April 2, 2021
Considering Sharon was a villain for a time in the Captain America comics, there is a small chance she’s turned dark side here. More likely though, I think she’s working for the Power Broker, possibly even working as a double agent to bring the Power Broker down. Who knows! We shall see.
That Wakandan Cliffhanger Though
Nearly woke my house up screaming the moment Bucky picked up those Wakandan Kimoyo Beads. The beads are an advanced form of communication technology Wakandans wear on their persons. We saw them used throughout Black Panther by Shuri and King T’challa alike.
The Kimoyo Beads lead Bucky to none other than Ayo, the Dora Milaje’s second-in-command. We first met Ayo in Captain America: Civil War, and she was featured prominently throughout Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Undoubtedly Ayo got to know Bucky during his 2-year rehabilitation time in Wakanda where he came to be known as the White Wolf.
the fact that bucky learnt some moves from his time in wakanda pic.twitter.com/3ZKUw7foe0
— chloe! (@sebbabear) April 2, 2021
Some of y’all really need to put some respect on Ayo’s name, she’s NOT Okoye OR “Bucky’s ex from Wakanda or something” Not only is she a badass warrior of the Dora Milaje, she’s also actually an Amazon pic.twitter.com/wFfOyAlKdw
— Ren ᗢ (@wandasolsen) April 3, 2021
The episode ends with Ayo speaking one phrase in Wakandan, “I’m here for Zemo.” Here, Ayo is reminding everyone of the fact that everyone’s new favourite fur coat wearing, awkward dancing Baron was responsible for the murder of T’challa’s father, King T’chaka. A murder, if you’ll remember, that he also framed Bucky for.
No doubt Ayo is here to enact Wakandan justice on Zemo. And well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences for Zemo’s actions. Right on time.
Episode 2: The Star-Spangled Man
John Walker As The Star Spangled Man
The episode’s title is call-back to the cheesy jingle that haunted Steve Roger’s propaganda performances back in Captain America: The First Avenger. A version of the jingle can also be heard when John Walker steps out for his Good Morning America interview, not so subtly reminding us that Captain America’s roots as a symbol deeply entwined with US military propaganda are alive and well.
— tabitha (@buckymatters) March 26, 2021
We also learn Walker’s origins are not as they are in the comics, nor is he superpowered. That all could change very soon though, considering the introductory mention of the Power Broker later in the episode. Which we’ll discuss in a moment.
Sharon Carter: Coming Soon
After Bucky suggests stealing back the shield from the government, Sam reminds him why that isn’t a good idea. Sam reminds Bucky, the last time he and Steve went against the government’s wishes, they became fugitives on the run for 2 years, referring to the period of two years between Civil War and Infinity War when they were on the run for trying to save Bucky.
— kirtan rogers ☆✪ carol day! (@CapnRgers) March 25, 2021
Specifically Sam mentions that Sharon Carter became an enemy of the state. Sharon’s mention is a little tease of what’s to come, as Sharon is due to appear as a major player in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier very soon.
Karli Morgentheau & Her Flag Smashers
The second episode more impressively introduces us to the flag-smashers and their fearless leader, Karli Morgentheau in a fantastically choreographed hand to hand combat seen atop of two moving trucks. Miss Morgenthau appears to be a gender-bent and race-bent version of Karl Morgentheau, who we discussed in episode one’s easter eggs.
Erin Kellyman stars as Karli Morgenthau in #TheFalconAndTheWinterSoldier but you may also recognise her as Enfys Nest from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’.
She’s appeared in both the MCU & Star Wars at only 22 years old and will next star in A24’s ‘The Green Knight’. pic.twitter.com/cXLvcsgzXW
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) March 27, 2021
Karl was the original villain known as Flag Smasher in the comics, and was designed to be the embodiment of anti-patriotism. Hence, his goal, which is now the Flag Smasher group’s goal, to abolish borders, as they are the ultimate enforcement of Nationalism and patriotism.
The Power Broker & Super Soldier Serum
Not to geek out on y’all, but episode 2 hinted at the menacing presence of the Power Broker who is a VERY interesting antagonist from the Captain America comics. In the comics, the Power Broker sells super soldier serum (aka the serum that gave Captain America his abilities) to governments, terrorist groups and really anyone willing to pay the pretty price. Episode 2 saw a scene implying Karli and the Flag Smashers stole a shipment of the Broker’s serum stores.
My theory for TFATWS is that John Walker is gonna feel inadequate as the new Captain America so he’ll go to power broker to get juiced up on his super soldier serum, idk what it’ll achieve but it wouldn’t surprise me if it goes that way
— Ant-Cam (@planetcameron) March 27, 2021
Fun fact, in the comics one of the Power Broker’s biggest customers is the US military and government. John Walker (Wyatt Russell), Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennet) and Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) are only three of the many people the US government purchases super serum from the Power Broker for in the comics. Between the Power Broker, the Flag Smashers, Baron Zemo, and the government themselves, Bucky and Sam’s list of allies seems far shorter than their enemies.
My hopes of Falcon and the Winter Soldier addressing anti-Black racism were raised slightly with this episode’s official heartbreaking introduction of Isaiah Bradley (Karl Lumley). As is more or less implied in the scene in which Bucky introduces Isaiah to Sam, Isaiah was one of 300 African-American soldiers who were used as test subjects as part of Project Rebirth’s attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Steve Rogers. He was the only one to survive these experiments.
His inclusion here in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier serves as a harrowing contrast of the double standard that exists because of anti-Black racism in the US. Unlike Steve Rogers who was awarded with fame for his super-soldier transformation, Isaiah was made a war dog of the state, imprisoned, tortured and experimented on.
I DON'T THINK U UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH OF A FUCKING BIG DEAL IT IS FOR ISIAH TO BE ON THE BIG SCREEN pic.twitter.com/Ds7H7YiXjq
— bisexual eli bradley (@616bradley) March 26, 2021
Bradley, who was known as the Black Captain America in the comics, also represents the possible worst-case scenario as to what could become of Sam if Sam took up Captain America’s mantle as a Black man in a predominately white institution.
It’s worth noting that Bradley’s grandson, Eli Bradley briefly appears in the episode too. In the comics, Eli becomes a member of the Young Avengers and is known as Patriot
In the episode’s final sequence, we catch an enigmatic glimpse of Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who we last saw apprehended at the end of Captain America: Civil War. Like any Marvel villain worth his salt, Zemo is locked in a glass cell playing chess which is a nice visual callback to Magneto’s imprisonment in various X-Men films.
baron zemo's first appearance in the falcon and the winter soldier appreciation tweet pic.twitter.com/6qyzURE6JN
— Ral ceo of bucky 🌘 is reading crooked kingdom (@snowpointexe) March 28, 2021
The episode concludes with Sam and Bucky seeking out Zemo to inquire about the Flag Smasher’s stolen cargo. As the keeper of Hydra’s secrets, and number one superpowered people hater, if anyone’s gonna know what the Flag Smashers and the Power Broker are up to, it’ll be Zemo. Though since he’s Bucky’s ex-handler from Bucky’s time at Hydra as the Winter Soldier, I can’t imagine the reunion is going to go smoothly.
Episode One: ‘New World Order’
Georges Batroc & The LAF
The opening action sequence features a reappearance from Georges Batroc and the LAF. If they seem familiar, that’s because we last saw them in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The last time we saw Georges Batroc (played by ex MMA fighter, Georges St-Pierre), he was fighting Captain America and Black Widow on a cargo ship.
In the comics, Georges Batroc is also known as Batroc the Leaper and has a super strength mutation. He’s a villain and a mercenary who first appeared in the Captain America comics. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is all about the questionable legacy left behind by Captain America, and this reintroduction of one of Cap’s old enemies right off the bat as a foil for Sam was a great way to show how Cap’s friends and foes are all interlinked.
One of the coolest things about #FalconAndTheWinterSoldier is all the parallels and callbacks to The Winter Soldier (2014):
– Sam having a kickass opening action sequence fighting Batroc
– Bucky's list
– Smithsonian exhibit (and the close up on the section dedicated to Bucky)
— 🌻 amethyst talks TFATWS spoilers (@sunnysambucky) March 19, 2021
People are already in love with Sam’s buddy/sidekick, Joaquin Torres. In the comics, Joaquin Torres takes up the mantle of the Falcon when Sam becomes Captain America. He’s a great friend to Sam and a beloved Latinx hero.
Steve Rogers wanted Sam to be Captain America at the end of Endgame. So, it’s very possible we’ll see Joaquin Torres don those iconic wings sometime in the future.
i believe in the joaquin torres supremacy pic.twitter.com/Bx506a0p4p
— matty, ceo of atom eve | s&b spoilers (@godlycia) March 19, 2021
James Rhodes & The Smithsonian Exhibit
Hands down one of my favourite moments in the episode is the conversation between Sam Wilson and James Rhodes, aka War Machine, best friend of Tony Stark. As two of the most significant Black American characters in the MCU, who are now facing the task of taking up the legacy of their dead hero besties, and passionate about serving the US defence force they have a lot in common.
The pair discuss Cap’s legacy while wondering through the same Smithsonian exhibit we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It has now been updated to include a memorial to those ‘vanished’ in the blip. alongside Cap’s history. We also see that Bucky’s timeline has been updated to include his time as the Winter Soldier. The room is basically a museum of props from all previous Captain America films.
— denisee (@softestavnger) March 19, 2021
Post Traumatic Winter Soldier
In our first glimpse at the titular Winter Soldier, Bucky has a nightmare about his time as Hydra’s Assassin On Demand. He wakes up and it turns out he’s sleeping on the floor. It’s a moment that calls back to Sam and Captain America’s first-ever chat when they talked about sleeping on the floor because the hardest part about returning from war is that the bed feels soft.
We also see Bucky in therapy (yay! finally someone in the MCU gets therapy). To his therapist, he mentions his time in Wakanda, which we saw in the mid-credits scene of Black Panther. He also discusses how he’s making amends.
Bucky Barnes in therapy: pic.twitter.com/hHYmCyauzC
— mary tfatws spoilers (@marvelousxoxo) March 19, 2021
Bucky’s amends plotline is adapted from one of my favourite comics in the universe, The Winter Soldier. In that comic, Bucky makes a list of the evil people he helped and the good people he killed and goes about getting vengeance with the help of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanov. It’s a storyline we see echoes of in Bucky’s vehicular vengeance against the corrupt politicians.
Meeting Sam’s Family
After knowing little about Sam beyond his military service and friendship with Captain America, it seems we’re finally getting to know him and his family. In this episode, we meet Sarah, Sam’s sister and his neeses and nephews.
We learn the Wilson family own a fishing business that’s about to go under. It’s worth noting that Sam and Sarah’s boat is named after their parents, Paul and Darlene Wilson, and in the comics, that’s also their parents’ names. In the comics, Sarah is also there. Their parents were both murdered separately trying to help people.
— danna (@eternalsbarnes) March 19, 2021
The Flag Smashers
The first episode sees our first look at the anarchist group known as the Flag-Smashers when Joaquin Torres spots their insignia via an augmented reality app on his phone. Their name is taken from the Flag-Smasher, a villain in the comics otherwise known as Karl Morgenthau. Morgenthau was the son of a diplomat. After the death of his father, became a freedom-fighting terrorist known as Flag-Smasher in the comics. Flag-Smasher’s goal was liberating earth from the concept of nationalism.
Flag-Smasher created a group called U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.: The Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind to liberate the world from Nationalism. We know from the trailers that the Flag-Smashers believe the world was better during the Snap when half the population was gone, and this would slot nicely into the MO of destroying nationalist identifiers.
why did the dude explaining the bad guys of falcon and the winter soldier just say "they're called the flag smashers, they think life was better during the blip, they want a world that's unified without borders", as if that is a coherent statement
— Jack Saint (@LackingSaint) March 19, 2021
Judging from a Special Thanks to artist Tom Morgan in the credits, the Flag-Smashers in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier may also be based on The Watchdogs. The Watchdogs in the comics are a terrorist group dedicated to destroying enhanced individuals. This would fit into the MO of Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), The Falcon and The Winter Soldier‘s main villain. We even see his name written in Bucky’s amends list.
The amalgamation of the groups could signify something completely new for the series, however. We shall see what we shall see.
— abby ✪ tfatws spoilers (@thunderbyers) March 19, 2021
John Walker & The Hidden Racist Legacy Of Captain America
In the last moments of the episode, we’re introduced to the character of John Walker as Captain America. In a heart-wrenching double-cross, Sam watches as Cap’s shield, which he gave over to the Smithsonian, is now held by John Walker (Wyatt Russell). Walker is announced as the new Captain America in a speech that sounds almost identical to the one Sam gave when handing over the shield.
In the comics, John Walker was originally known as the Super-Patriot, a villain who was the dark reflection of Captain America and his views on patriotism. Walker is a violent zealot who stops at nothing to protect his country from things he deems un-American.
why disrespect steve rogers & sam wilson like that by replacing them w THIS MAN??? embarrassing pic.twitter.com/c8yzs8Hvcf
— beth! CAROL DAY (@60swanda) March 19, 2021
In an episode where we see Sam and Sarah endure the practice of Red Lining wherein Black Americans and POC were systemically denied loans and property by banks, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier appears to also be tackling issues of racism. In the credits, we catch a glimpse of a file belonging to Isaiah Bradley.
In the comics, Isaiah Bradley aka the Black Captain America was one of 300 African-American soldiers who were used as test subjects as part of Project Rebirth’s attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Steve Rogers.
— abby ✪ tfatws spoilers (@thunderbyers) March 19, 2021
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the same episode where Sam and his sister are denied a bank loan via Red Lining that, despite Steve Rogers wanting the shield and the title of Captain America to go to Sam, Sam is tricked into giving the shield away and Captain America is replaced with a white man. The MCU’s track record on addressing issues of race is sparse with the exception of Black Panther. However, here’s hoping The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is turning a new page.
Tune in at 7 pm AEDT every Friday for a new The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode on Disney+. This article will be updated weekly by yours truly with theories, eggsies and everything in between.
Merryana Salem (she|they) is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out their podcast, GayV Club where they gush about LGBT rep in media. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.