Things are boiling to a head with the latest Marvel TV series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If you’ve not watched it yet, you HAVE to know that this article will be filled with spoilers so read on at your own risk! Things will be spoiled and I’m not going to be held liable!
OK, so in Episode 5 of the series, Sam and Bucky are headed to New York to stave off the Flag Smashers’ newest attack. John Walker, now stripped of his Captain America persona, will certainly be going there for some reason too, perhaps at the behest of La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine. She’s a bad mama and in the 616 Universe, even led Hydra as Madame Hydra at one point.
That’s what most people will expect.
However, the MCU has shown that while it respects the comics, it doesn’t really try to follow in lockstep with them. Take Age of Ultron for example.
The movie shares the same name of the comics crossover event, but the plots couldn’t have been more different!
While we got a Hulk vs the Hulkbuster fight, Quicksilver dying and Ultron levelling Sokovia in the MCU, in the 616 Comics Universe it was pretty much Armageddon for the heroes, with nearly all of them dying at the hands of Ultron, causing Wolverine and the Invisible Woman to travel through time trying to prevent it.
See? Same name, totally different plot.
That’s what I think we’re in for when The Falcon and The Winter Soldier concludes this week.
John Walker will be recruited into a shadowy organization led by the Countessa, that I have no doubt. He’ll probably assume the mantle of USAgent, or at the very least, the Patriot depending on how the showrunners want to play it. However, that shadowy organization that he joins will not be Hydra.
No matter his mental state, I don’t think treason of any sort is on Walker’s plate.
Instead, I think the Countessa works for the US Government, or at the very least a shadowy branch of it. Or maybe even private patriots that want to advance America’s interest. Hell, the GRC (Global Repatriation Council) might even be in or part of it. Whatever it may be, the organization isn’t a bad guy per se (kind of like S.W.O.R.D. from WandaVision), though they may become the antagonist in the future of the MCU.
The name of that organization?
Yup. THE H.A.M.M.E.R. that Norman Osborn founded in the wake of the Civil War in the comics. Since we still don’t have an Osborn in the MCU, the Countessa is the next logical choice, with Walker leading her team.
Now, I’m a bit divided here…but I think it’ll be the MCU’s version of The Thunderbolts.
Wait, why not the Dark Avengers? Simply because Walker will not be Captain America ever again, so putting him in Dark Avengers doesn’t work at all.
Remember, the Dark Avengers were basically analogues of the original Avengers. Unlike the 616, where replacements with similar abilities were easily found (such as Daken for Wolverine, Bullseye for Hawkeye and so on) the MCU doesn’t have the convenience of using those characters simply because they don’t exist in it…yet.
Instead, it’ll be The Thunderbolts.
The setup is incredibly similar to how The Thunderbolts were first introduced to the 616.
In the aftermath of Onslaught, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers were thought dead. Baron Zemo had the genius idea to ingratiate himself with the government by forming a superhero team filled with villains pretending to be heroes. At the right moment, the Thunderbolts would ‘flip’ and basically screw everybody over.
Zemo’s plan didn’t come to pass (as certain members of the Thunderbolts rebelled against him) but that hasn’t stopped the US government from using the team name as a way to field villains (who are coerced to cooperate) in the guise of a government superhuman response team.
Now think about that in the context of the current MCU.
The Avengers have pretty much disassembled. The world needs heroes but there aren’t any!
In that vacuum steps in the Countessa, along with her resources. She installs John Walker as the head of the team due to his command experience, along with Baron Zemo (recovered from Wakanda) as Citizen V. From there, it’s pretty much a who’s who of past villains pressed to service.
Whiplash (Iron Man 2), Batroc (you know he’ll be arrested in the season finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), the Vulture or the Shocker (Spider-man: Homecoming) and the Abomination (The Incredible Hulk) are my picks for who’ll be called up.
Of course, Marvel could just introduce new characters we’ve not yet seen. After all, existence of the Raft means there must be more evil superhumans than what we’ve seen in the MCU thus far. Whoever makes the cut, the introduction of H.A.M.M.E.R. would dovetail nicely with another upcoming Marvel series; Secret Invasion.
So what about the titular characters? The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
That’s easy. Bucky gets the shield, Sam gets a new suit with upgraded capabilities.
Why not the other way around?
Simply because of what’s transpired before.
While Episode 5 has a training montage of Sam training with the shield, I think that’s simply a red herring intended to make people think he’s the next Cap.
However, Sam’s talk with Isaiah Bradley (and him saying no self-respecting black man will hold the shield and be Captain America after what America’s done to their race) will ring true, causing Sam to initially accept the mantle of Captain America, only to pass it on to Bucky at the season finale.
It’d also make more sense for Bucky to have the shield.
He’s a supersoldier, just like Cap was. He was also Captain America’s sidekick…well, not so much in the MCU, but he does know Captain America longer than the Falcon does! Supersoldier capabilities and familiarity with Cap aside, Bucky would simply make for a more interesting Captain America.
Here is a damaged superhuman who was an assassin, who’s now reformed and trying to find his way in a totally alien world. Unlike Steve, Bucky’s reintroduction to the modern world hasn’t been an easy one. He’s been pretty much on the run since the events of The Winter Soldier, and is haunted by what he did in the past in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series.
Now imagine that AND having to balance being a vigilante Captain America.
Yeah, it’d be like when Steve Rogers was Nomad in the comics, except this time it’s Bucky. The US government will be coming for that shield, and Bucky will NOT be willing to give it up again, not after what happened with John Walker.
Knowing that, wouldn’t that make for a more interesting Captain America rather than a black one?
Hopefully the people at Marvel saw it that way too…
One way or another, we’ll see what the future holds for the MCU when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s season finale airs this Friday on Disney+.