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What ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ has to offer the rest of the MCU

| Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Claire Reid | The Observer

(Warning: The following article contains spoilers for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”)

I’m sad to say I wasn’t impressed with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” The middle child of Marvel Studios’ first blatantly canon foray into streaming just didn’t meet the standards they’ve set over the last decade. (I say, “blatantly canon,” given the ambiguity surrounding where Netflix and Hulu originals such as “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Marvel’s Runaways” stand in regard to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

It’s not completely the fault of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” — which was originally supposed to air before “WandaVision” and “Loki” until COVID-19 caused almost as much disruption as the Thanos snap — that its premise pales in comparison to those of the series bordering it. (Buddy cop action comedy doesn’t really lend itself to an “Agatha All Along” moment, now does it?).

That being said, this latest Marvel adventure has just as much (if not more) bearing on where Phases 4 and 5 of the MCU are going — at least terrestrially.

The most obvious segue from this project is “Captain America 4,” which Marvel officially announced the Monday following the show’s season finale. That’s because (spoiler alert) Falcon finally commandeers the shield and accepts the mantle of Captain America. But what exactly will be in store next for Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes?

It’s understandable that these Disney+ series can be relatively self-contained, but another Captain America film will have to stack up against its predecessor: “Captain America: Civil War.” To that end, there’s still a bevy of projects set to be released beforehand that should help paint a clearer picture of where the MCU is heading. But there are other odds and ends “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” sets up which will most certainly factor into “Captain America 4” as well as more immediate MCU endeavors.

There’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ cameo as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine — a character originally set to be introduced in this summer’s “Black Widow” film (which was originally supposed to air in 2020, before any Marvel Disney+ series). “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” executive producer Nate Moore described Louis-Dreyfus’ character as “a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury.”

Given her relationship with Wyatt Russell’s John Walker (a.k.a. U.S. Agent), the natural assumption is that the Contessa is assembling the Thunderbolts, what amounts to an MCU version of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad (with the Contessa serving as a parallel to Amanda Waller). That project could see not only John Walker and Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo returning from this most recent series in antihero capacities, but also see the return of William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (a.k.a. Red Hulk) and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky (a.k.a. Abomination) from the 2008 “The Incredible Hulk.”

From there, “The Falcon and Winter Soldier” provides obvious material for two projects and potential for another.

Florence Kasumba saw an increased role as Ayo (the Winter Soldier’s “handler”) after brief appearances as a member of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje. Don’t be surprised if she takes on a bigger role in “Black Panther 2” and/or the recently announced but still untitled series about Wakanda, especially as Marvel attempts to keep that world within a world alive, despite the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Additionally, Elijah Bradley — a.k.a. Patriot and grandson of super soldier Isaiah Bradley — is a comic book member of the Young Avengers, which Marvel first hinted at developing in “Avengers: Endgame” with the introduction Tony Stark’s daughter Morgan.

And finally, there’s the quandary of what to do with Emily VanCamp’s role as Sharon Carter, who is revealed to be the Power Broker of Madripoor in the “The Falcon and Winter Soldier” finale. Driven by resentment over her treatment following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” Carter finally gets pardoned for her actions at the conclusion of the series. And, in a (rather clunky) mid-credit scene, now finding herself back within the U.S. intelligence hierarchy, she instructs someone on the other end of a phone call to start setting up buyers for “government secrets, prototype weapons, you name it.”

There’s speculation as to what is up with her character, with some even suggesting that she has turned evil because a Skrull is impersonating her. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not the case, but I’ll also go a step further and offer a prediction as to one Marvel project she may factor into: “Armor Wars.” Announced in Dec. 2020, “Armor Wars” will follow Don Cheadle’s War Machine character as he must face villains who have acquired Tony Stark’s technology. Call me crazy, but Stark tech seems like the kind of thing the Power Broker would be itching to traffic.

Like pretty much any item within the MCU, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” provides endless material from which to craft fan theories (and we should all know how wrong fan theories can be). But let’s at least take solace in the fact that this still didn’t go to as many pains to set up future projects as did “Zach Snyder’s Justice League.” After all, to paraphrase Sam Wilson’s favorite song, “Troubleman”:

There’s only three things that’s for sure: Taxes, death and even the mediocre Marvel projects owning DC.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

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