Falcon And The Winter Soldier Writer Breaks Down Episode 1 Cliffhanger

The first episode of Disney+'s Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended on a major moment that could impact the future of the MCU, so we asked the show's writer about it.


You had a week off between Marvel shows on Disney+, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has arrived. The series picks up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, catching viewers up on the whereabouts of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). We also see what's happened with Captain America's iconic shield since Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) handed it over to Sam in Endgame.

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If you've yet to watch it, turn away now.

We learn in the first episode of the series that Sam doesn't feel worthy of the shield himself. Instead, he donates it to the Smithsonian museum to be displayed in honor of his friend. Of course, we don't know where his friend, old man Steve, actually is. Did he go to another timeline? Is he married to Peggy in this reality? Did he die between Endgame and now? None of this matters, because the shield is quickly reassigned to a new Captain America--and it’s not Sam or Bucky.

We see at the end of the episode that there's a new Captain America--a man we know to be John Walker (Wyatt Russell) has taken on the mantle thanks to a little government intervention. This character has a long history in the comics, in which he was first introduced as Super-Patriot--essentially, a dark and evil version of Captain America. Eventually in the comics, Steve handed over his shield and the government ultimately gave it to--you guessed it--John Walker. Ultimately, he's revealed as a truly villainous character by Steve. They battle, and the real Captain America wins.

And while you likely shouldn't trust the new Captain America on the series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier head writer Malcolm Spellman did reveal some changes were made to the show's version of Walker.

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"I think the Marvel fans have always supported Marvel: you always start with the books," he told GameSpot. "Even [when] you always end up having to divert from them, just because so much has happened in the MCU and certain things that work on a drawn page, don't work in a filmed scene. But the spirit of that remains, the feelings of it remain so we knew for us to make John Walker Captain America, which we literally did, we start off with the guy from the book. But that guy can't have a shield, you know what I'm saying? If we're going to have John Walker be Captain America, we need to round him out and shift him a bit. So we let him become somebody who deserved the shield in the eyes of the denizens of the MCU."

So who is John Walker, as introduced in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

"He is truly the embodiment of American exceptionalism," Spellman revealed. "He has existed to answer the call and answer it at the highest level at every phase of his life, from childhood to now. I don't know if his line got cut, but he was one of the most--if not the most--decorated soldiers in American history. And his drive is that. So he seems, obviously, a choice to take on the mantle, because that's what he's been pushing for his whole life."

Regardless of how perfect he might seem for the role on the surface, clearly, this is not what Sam had in mind when he donated the shield to be put on display. Seeing the government take that symbol and simply assign it to someone else is not going to sit well with him.

"It's two layers of betrayal," Spellman teased. "Number one, a black man being betrayed by the government. Surprise, surprise, surprise, right? But also from Sam on a personal level, 'Did I just betray my best friend?' And he feels tremendous guilt about that, because of his reverence for Steve and what he embodied, and Steve gave him this symbol, and it ended up not somewhere where it was planned. Steve didn't give that symbol to John Walker. So it's two layers of betrayal, personal and existential."

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Now the question is what he can do about it--and how Bucky will react when they finally reconnect. These two revered Steve Rogers more than any other. Seeing that the government simply replaced him--and given Walker's comic book history that will likely come into play here--it's not going to be pretty when they finally come face-to-face with the new Captain America.

New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier arrive Fridays on Disney+.

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