On Your Left

Falcon and the Winter Soldier reveals Marvel’s new Captain America

Where is Steve Rogers? Who is following in his footsteps? The Marvel Cinematic Universe series premiere delivers the answers.

Steve Rogers is gone. But what about Captain America? It’s a big question, one that’s very much on the mind of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the second Marvel Cinematic Universe series on Disney+.

Right away, it’s clear the MCU show is as much about Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes navigating their lives after Avengers: Endgame as it is about how the two men and the world around them react to losing Cap — but at least for now, Falcon and Winter Soldier has delivered an answer as far as what’s next for Captain America.

Major spoilers for Falcon and the Winter Soldier are ahead.

Is Falcon the new Captain America?

Sam Wilson holds the shield.Marvel Studios / Disney+

No, he is not — not yet, at least.

The opening of the series features Falcon on a high-flying mission, showing that he’s still very much an active force in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, working to repair the world after the Blip. But he’s not Captain America. In fact, he returns the shield to the government early on in Episode 1 and spends much of the rest of the hour reforging his old family bonds, working with his sister toward attaining a bank loan. Sam’s efforts are thwarted, both in terms of the loan, as well as his desire to honor Steve’s legacy. More on that in a moment.

Is the Winter Soldier the new Captain America?

Bucky rides through the new Marvel adventure.Marvel Studios / Disney+

In the comics, Bucky takes on Cap’s mantle at one point, much like Sam. But that’s not the case with Falcon and Winter Soldier, at least not yet.

No, the erstwhile Winter Soldier is too focused on other matters, such as his own dark past. Working with the government toward reconciling his old ways, Bucky opts for a quiet life with a few kind neighbors. He even goes on a date, but it’s short-lived, as he becomes wracked with guilt over memories of killing one of his favorite neighbors’ son; remnants of another mission from his Winter Soldier past.

Who is the new Captain America?

If it’s not Sam, then who is it?Marvel Studios / Disney+

The new Captain America is publicly revealed at the end of the episode, and it’s not someone fans have met before — not in the MCU, anyway.

Enter: John Walker, played by Wyatt Russell. In the comics, he’s known as the U.S. Agent, most popularly associated with the West Coast Avengers. Walker appears in the final moments of the premiere, announced at a press conference as the new Captain America — just a few days after Sam returned the shield at a separate event, with the implication that all parties involved were good to honor Steve’s legacy and leave the Captain America mantle as an artifact of history.

John Walker doesn’t speak in the episode, but he does close things out with an action that speaks louder than words: a wink right at the camera, making it clear that his status as the new Cap is something we should not be excited about.

Is the new Captain America a bad guy?

Sam and Bucky plan their move.Marvel Studios / Disney+

A good question, and one worth asking, because this could go a couple of different directions.

In the comics, the U.S. Agent is often an ally. But is that the way the show will take it? Another possible path is adapting the Marvel Comics storyline in which Captain America is an agent of HYDRA, thanks to reality-warping shenanigans. Avengers: Endgame already broached this topic with Steve’s “Hail Hydra” gambit, but Falcon and the Winter Soldier could go there in a bigger way.

Read more at our Falcon and Winter Soldier hub.

Maybe, though, Walker’s just a prop; a stage-actor, effectively, like the initial USO tour days of Captain America: The First Avenger. Maybe he’s more Trevor Slattery than Mandarin — or, to use a more relevant comparison, more Ralph Bohner than Mephisto.

However it shakes out, the jury’s still out on Walker’s true allegiance — but for now, you’re right to feel wary of the man.

Is Captain America (Steve Rogers) dead?

Where is Steve?Marvel Studios

Steve’s whereabouts are unknown, both for the audience as well as the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking with his new buddy Joaquin (more on him shortly), Sam learns the popular theory around the MCU: Steve Rogers went to the moon. Really? Stranger things have happened in the comics, such as an assassin “killing” Steve only for it later to turn out the bullet was only making him travel through time. (Comics!) The MCU is certainly treating Steve as if he’s gone, but there’s still no actual confirmation that he’s dead or alive.

Who is Joaquin in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

A new hero has entered the chat.Marvel Comics

Actor Danny Ramirez plays the role of Joaquin, a fellow soldier fighting alongside Sam Wilson.

There’s a good argument that this young man is actually a very important Marvel character. In the comics, Joaquin Torres is the hero who eventually adopts the Falcon mantle. Is it possible that Sam is going to become the MCU’s new official Captain America by the end of the series, with Joaquin serving as his Falcon? First, he’s going to have to survive his run-in with the Flag-Smashers. Speaking of which …

Who are the Flag-Smashers in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

A villain from the comics gets a new makeover.Marvel Comics

The Flag-Smashers are a riff on a Marvel Comics villain. Instead of just the one, the MCU’s take on Flag-Smasher is myriad: a group of antagonists who loom large over the Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiere.

According to Joaquin, these people believe the world was better after Thanos snapped half of all life away from existence. They want to return the world to the state it was in before Falcon showed up on Captain America’s left. Their exact plans are unknown, just like the identity of one particularly nasty Flag-Smasher who appears to have some super-strength, Steve Rogers style.

What’s next for Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

Falcon and Bucky fly off into the next episode.Marvel Studios / Disney+

A lot of mysteries are, like Falcon at his best, in the air.

Who are the Flag-Smashers? Will Joaquin become Falcon? Will John Walker stay on as Captain America, or will Sam get the mantle as Steve always intended? What about Sam and Bucky as a team — how are we going to get the Falcon and the Winter Soldier together again, seeing as they aren’t in the same space quite yet? Plus, what about other characters we know are in the series, like Sharon Carter and Helmut Zemo? Those questions are all still very much in play as we head into the rest of Marvel’s high-flying superhero series.

Falcon and Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney+.