What does Marvel look like without Captain America? And more specifically, what does it look like without Steve Rogers? Both are big questions. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is attempting to find the answer.
From the opening moments of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s premiere, the presence of Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers looms large — and his absence, at that. While he never physically appears on screen in the episode, Steve’s image is shown multiple times, and several of his lines from Avengers: Endgame are even repeated in the episode’s opening scene.
Even if he never shows up, Steve’s presence will continue through the coming episodes of Falcon and Winter Soldier. And it isn’t just Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes who have a hard time grappling with losing their friend. As head writer Malcolm Spellman tells Inverse, Steve’s loss is felt by “the entire planet.”
Steve Rogers’ Legacy
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place 6 months after the events of Avengers: Endgame and picks up with a world that is still grappling with the lingering trauma of The Blip. That struggle is only heightened by the apparent loss of Steve Rogers, a hero that many looked to for hope in the darkest of times.
It’s a feeling that feels eerily relatable a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when people all over the world have struggled to stay positive and optimistic about the future.
That parallel isn’t a total coincidence, according to Spellman.
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe right now is mirroring our real-life planet, as far as everyone is dealing with a single issue,” the Falcon and Winter Soldier head writer tells Inverse. “In the MCU, it’s the world post-Blip. In the world today, it’s this global pandemic. Those two issues create connectivity between people. And who would be the perfect person, in the Marvel universe, to deal with that issue? It’s Steve.”
Steve’s disappearance (or death?) makes an impact on the people in the MCU that is apparent very early on in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s premiere. But Steve’s departure also creates a rift between Sam and Bucky that will emerge as a core focus of the series moving forward.
Sam, Bucky, and Steve
Prior to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam and Bucky’s friendship has only been occasionally hinted at and shown in past MCU films. The two have had great comedic moments together, and have taken pot-shots at each other (in addition to literal shots), but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will test their bond like never before.
For Spellman and the creative team, Falcon and the Winter Soldier aims to show Steve’s lingering, global presence in the MCU was to “distill it down to two characters who may or may not even like each other.”
“These are two characters who thought they were friends,” says Spellman, “but now are discovering, ‘Wait a minute, were we ever friends or were we just two people who had a mutual best friend in common?’ With Steve gone, the show is dealing with the reality of that situation between Bucky and Sam.”
That’s what happens when Steve’s gone. But what happens if he shows back up?
Where is Captain America?
Is Steve really gone? Marvel fans have been wondering that for several months now, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiere doesn’t offer up much of an explanation.
It’s implied, due to the somber nature of the Captain America ceremony that is held early on in the episode, that Steve has died. But it’s unclear if the character — who was last seen as an old man in Avengers: Endgame — is really dead, or if that’s just what the general public has been told.
There were rumors that Chris Evans would be reprising his role as Captain America in an upcoming Marvel project, and some speculated that the project in question was The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, Evans quickly shot down the report himself, and Marvel’s Kevin Feige seemed to poke holes in the rumor as well. Although, Feige and Evans could, of course, be lying in an effort to keep his return as much of a surprise as possible.
With that being said, Feige did also hint recently that Steve might very well be dead by the time The Falcon and the Winter Soldier begins. The Marvel boss told Empire that the series would address Steve’s whereabouts “in a roundabout way,” before adding that, while it’s a “fair presumption” that Steve is still alive in the series, it might not “necessarily be the case.”
Are concrete answers coming? If so, there are two episodes fans may want to keep an eye on. Speaking with Inverse, Spellman says he “can’t wait” for viewers to reach “episodes 2 and 5,” for everyone looking to learn more about how Steve’s legacy plays out.
The Inverse Analysis — The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s premiere does a lot to establish the struggles Sam and Bucky are dealing with after Endgame, and it’s clear that their shared bond with Steve is going to continue playing a major role in the series. That’s fitting too, for a character as well-regarded and beloved as Evans’ Captain America was and still is.
But is Steve still alive? And if so, where is he? Fans are going to have to wait for the answer of what really happened to Steve after Endgame. For all we know, the character could — as some characters in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier speculate — actually be on the moon. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or most shocking thing Marvel has ever done.
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