On Your Left

Falcon and Winter Soldier is over, and the MCU will never be the same

Who wields the shield?

Welcome back, Cap. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a new Captain America in town, thanks to the ending of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Who is it? Is it Sam Wilson, as positioned by Steve Rogers in Avengers: Endgame, or is it John Walker, the dangerous military man seen throughout the Disney+ Marvel show? Is it someone else, perhaps Bucky Barnes, or even Steve himself? Here’s how it all went down in Episode 6, the final installment of Sam and Bucky’s time together — for now, at least.

Major spoilers ahead.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: How did it end?

Sam and Bucky enjoy a well-earned happy ending.Marvel Studios

Episode 6 is almost all-action, all the time. It begins where Episode 5 left off, with the Flag-Smashers attacking the GRC summit in their quest to smash all borders. Their efforts are swiftly thwarted with the arrival of Sam Wilson as Captain America, wearing the stars and stripes in a brand new costume —  wings, shield, and all.

Sam doesn’t beat the Flag-Smashers alone. He’s assisted along the way by Bucky, Sharon Carter (though she’s eventually revealed as the mysterious Power Broker; more on that shortly), and even John Walker, who comes around to his senses and helps fight the good fight.

With Karli Morgenthau and the Flag-Smashers defeated, Sam reveals himself as Captain America to the world, broadcasting his appeal to the GRC members to reconsider their approach. We later learn that his words inspire them to have a change of heart.

In the aftermath of the battle-heavy finale, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes enjoy a cook-out with family and friends in Louisiana. It’s a happy ending — made all the happier by the final image we see before the credits. The usual The Falcon and the Winter Soldier title treatment changes, revealing the show’s true name:

Captain America and the Winter Soldier.

Awesome.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: Did the finale have a post-credits scene?

Sharon Carter is the Power Broker. Who saw that coming?Marvel Studios

Yes, it did. In the final scene of the series, Sharon Carter receives her full pardon, just as Sam promised. But was this a mistake? It sure looks like it, as Sharon is revealed to the audience as the true force behind the Power Broker. As she returns to the light of day, newly pardoned as “Agent Carter,” Sharon hops on a phone with an unseen force and tells them to start lining up buyers. “Super soldiers are off the menu,” she warns, but with access to so much classified intelligence, there “should be something for everyone.” To be continued?

Falcon and Winter Soldier: Did Steve Rogers show up in the finale?

Is Steve Rogers dead? Perhaps we’ll never know.Marvel Studios

He did not. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ends without any finality regarding Steve Rogers’ fate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is he alive, hiding somewhere, perhaps on the moon? Did he die? Did he return to whatever time he came from? We simply do not know officially what Marvel has in mind for Steve, but the lack of a concrete answer certainly leaves the door wide open.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Sam Wilson?

Captain America, looking good with that shield.Marvel Studios

Aside from the fact that he’s the new Captain America? Truly, that’s a big deal enough on its own. Sam wields the shield, and he does it in a way that separates him from his predecessor. He uses his jetpack to give him additional force. He uses the full extent of his wingsuit to offer further protection for not only himself, but others. He’s not a fighter; he’s a defender. With an impassioned plea to those watching around the world to do better, Sam’s certainly doing his part in paving the way for a new Captain America legacy, beginning with his battle against the Flag-Smashers, extending to his advocation for Isaiah Bradley’s legacy, and wide open for who knows what else next.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Bucky Barnes?

Captain America’s perennial best friend can finally rest easy.Marvel Studios

The erstwhile Winter Soldier gets in on the action in the finale, but the most important beats are what happens next. When the dust settles, Bucky resumes his mission to make amends for his brainwashed assassin days. After crossing all the names off his book, Bucky thanks his therapist, then starts living a little life alongside Sam and his family in Louisiana.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to John Walker?

John Walker’s last appearance in the Captain America uniform, before trying on something different.Marvel Studios

John Walker hits the fight with all the gusto one normally expects from the government’s temporary Captain America, but he quickly changes gears. Given a chance to kill Karli and avenge Lemar, or save a bunch of hostages, Walker opts for the latter route. Teaming up with Sam and Bucky, Walker seemingly has walked back into the light — though he may still have a dark future, now that he’s working for the Contessa under a new codename with a new uniform: the U.S. Agent, exactly as he is in the comics.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Contessa returns one last time — for now.Marvel Studios

Julia Louis-Dreyfus shows up in the finale, her second Marvel appearance following her Falcon and Winter Soldier debut in Episode 5. It’s a brief scene, one where she hooks Walker up with the U.S. Agent identity. She reminds Walker to wait for her call — and to stop calling her Val. Where is that going to go next? Stay tuned, true believer.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to the Flag-Smashers?

Karli Morgenthau and the Flag-Smashers are dead. Marvel Studios

It would appear they’re all dead. Sharon Carter kills Karli Morgenthau. The rest are placed under arrest, and are nearly smuggled into hiding by a corrupt officer, until they are killed in a car bomb ordered by an old enemy turned sometimes ally. But their message may live on. Sam warns that the Flag-Smashers were well-supported around the world, and if people aren’t careful, a “2.0” version could emerge. What will rise from the Flag-Smashers’ ashes? That could be a question left for a second season.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Baron Zemo?

Helmut Zemo has power, even from prison.Marvel Studios

We see Baron Zemo ever so briefly in the season finale, locked away behind bars at the Raft. He hears a broadcast about the death of the Flag-Smashers, and appears self-satisfied. It’s pretty clear that good old Helmut pulled the trigger, if not literally, and perhaps even with the backing of a certain Contessa. If Zemo still has this much sway from prison, who knows what he might do next? Break-dance his way out of prison? Anything’s possible.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Sharon Carter, and is she the Power Broker?

Who’s the Power Broker? It was Sharon, all along!Marvel Studios

Scroll up! And sadly, can’t even say “Skrull up,” as it sure does look like this is Sharon Carter fully in control over her nefarious Power Broker destiny. Why is Sharon doing this? What does she plan to do next? These questions are entirely unknown (and, frankly, entirely unsatisfying) at this moment in time.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What happened to Joaquin Torres?

Joaquin finds out Captain America isn’t on the moon, and is instead his new friend, Sam.Marvel Studios

Sam’s friend and occasional colleague briefly appears in the Falcon and Winter Soldier finale, for all of five seconds. We see him watching Captain America’s broadcast to the world. What we don’t see is whether Joaquin is so inspired by his friend that he picks up the wingsuit for a flight of his own. In the comics, Joaquin becomes the new Falcon. Is that what’s next for the man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Actor Danny Ramirez didn’t say anything when pressed on the issue by Inverse, and perhaps that’s with good reason: he simply does not know yet.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What’s next for Captain America?

Sam Wilson flies off toward his destiny as the new Captain America.Marvel Studios

As of now, there are no announced next appearances for Anthony Mackie as Captain America. Likewise, there’s no news on a second season of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If such a season occurs, it’s going to need to go by a brand new title: Captain America and the Winter Soldier. But as far as where Cap may show up next, there are a few likely bets, given what’s on the table for the Disney+ side of the MCU, including the likely event-level series Secret Invasion. How about Avengers 5 and beyond, though? With a new Captain America in the MCU, it’s hard to imagine him not showing up to lead the way through such an event. “On your left,” indeed.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: What’s next for the MCU?

Loki arrives on Disney+ on June 11, the next effort in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Marvel Studios

The next immediate item on the agenda: Loki, the Tom Hiddleston-starring series debuting June 11. It’s likely to feel a bit like a hybrid of WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier, what with its tenuous relationship with reality, but armed with some taut spy-thriller style. But we’re going to have to wait a minute before we see how the Asgardian’s next adventure plays out, given its summer debut. For the first time since January, we’re now without a new Marvel Cinematic Universe project for the foreseeable future. How to pass the time? Well, Falcon and the Winter Soldier — or Captain America and the Winter Soldier, if we want to start calling it by its new name — isn’t going to rewatch itself.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier, also known as Captain America and the Winter Soldier, is streaming now on Disney+.