What's next for Marvel? Here's what 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' sets up

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Tracy Brown
·5 min read
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A woman, two men and two boys smiling at a picnic table
Sarah Wilson (Adepero Oduye), from left, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." (Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios)

This story includes spoilers for the final episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

Sam Wilson is finally, officially, the new Captain America.

In the finale of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” Sam (Anthony Mackie) debuts his new Captain America suit, complete with new wings, drones and more. The red and white suit very much resembles Sam’s look during his tenure as Cap in the comic books.

Most of the episode involves the big showdown to try to stop Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers, with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and John Walker (Wyatt Russell) all joining in on the action.

But it’s after the action that Sam shows what the Disney+ series’ journey has been building toward — a Captain America who challenges systemic injustice and calls on those in power to reconsider how their decisions affect the most vulnerable.

As the episode concludes, it fades into a new title card that reads “Captain America and the Winter Soldier” to recognize Sam’s new mantle.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Marvel has tapped “The Falcon and The Winder Soldier” showrunner Malcolm Spellman and staff writer Dalan Musson to write the script for “Captain America 4.” While no other details have been revealed, the series leaves plenty of doors open for the follow-up and the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future.

A woman talking on a cellphone
Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) makes a call in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." (Eli Adé / Marvel Studios)

“Welcome home, [Double] Agent Carter”

After leaving plenty of hints over the course of the season, the final episode confirmed that Sharon is indeed the Power Broker, the big mysterious criminal boss running things out of Madripoor.

The episode’s post-credits scene shows Sharon receiving a full pardon (finally) for helping Steve Rogers during “Captain America: Civil War” (2016). She is even offered a post with her old division, which she is happy to accept. Too bad she’s got different motives now.

“Start lining up our buyers,” Sharon says in a phone call with an associate. “Super soldiers might be off the menu but we’re about to have full access to government secrets, prototype weapons, you name it. Should be something for everyone.”

Sharon, it seems, is ready to make the most of her opportunities. Why help protect the world if you can control it?

In the comics, the Power Broker’s identity has generally been associated with a businessman named Curtiss Jackson who profited off of giving people superpowers. The comic books' John Walker, for example, got his powers from the Power Broker.

The Power Broker has a history of helping create supervillains, so there are plenty of ways for Sharon to exploit her new position and forge ties to whatever enemies are introduced in future MCU installments.

Two women and a man sitting on a bench
Olivia Walker (Gabrielle Byndloss), left, watches over Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and John Walker's (Wyatt Russell) conversation. (Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios)

“We’re going to need a U.S. Agent”

After a brief stint as a renegade Captain America with a homemade shield, John Walker appeared to be much in much better spirits as he tried on a new costume for Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a.k.a. Val, and gained a new codename.

“Things are about to get weird,” says the Contessa. “So when they do, we’re not going to need a Captain America. We’re going to need a U.S. Agent.”

The Contessa in the comics is a character that dates back to the ‘60s. A spy skilled in combat, she also has some history with Nick Fury. The S.H.I.E.L.D. operative is eventually revealed to be a triple agent serving Hydra and comes to be known as Madame Hydra.

It’s clear that the MCU’s Val has some sort of plan in the works and is assembling talent/brawn for whatever that might be. With her comic book ties to Fury and the “Secret Invasion” storyline, there are plenty of opportunities for her return.

In the comics, John, known for his patriotism, eventually picks up the U.S. Agent moniker after his stint as Captain America. Although he was introduced as a villain in the ‘80s, he eventually fights alongside a version of the Avengers team.

A man smiling
Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez) in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." (Julie Vrabelová / Marvel Studios)

The next generation of heroes?

In addition to seeing the proper passing of the Captain America mantle to Sam, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” introduced a number of characters who have comic book superhero counterparts.

The MCU’s Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez) is the tech-savvy soldier who worked on missions with Sam earlier in the season. In the comics, he eventually becomes the next Falcon after Sam becomes Captain America. Could Torres fix up an old pair of Sam’s wings and take them for a spin in the future?

In addition to introducing the MCU version of Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), the show introduces his teenage grandson Eli (Elijah Richardson). In the comics, Eli is an original member of the Young Avengers who inherits his grandfather’s superpowers after a blood transfusion. Eli’s superhero name is the Patriot.

Eli is just the latest character with Young Avengers ties to be appear in the MCU. “WandaVision” introduced Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy Maximoff (Jett Klyne), who in the comics are the heroes Wiccan and Speed, respectively.

In the comics, the next-gen superhero team also includes Kate Bishop (who will be introduced in the “Hawkeye” series), Cassie Lang (who has already been seen in the MCU and will be back in the upcoming “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”) and America Chavez (who will appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”).

Other upcoming MCU releases include “Loki,” a Disney+ series launching June 11, and “Black Widow,” which is set to hit theaters and Disney+ on July 9.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.