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On Your Left

New Falcon and Winter Soldier trailer has a revealing detail you missed

As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier enters its last two episodes, there’s something new with John Walker’s shield.

Symbols matter. Especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But what happens when a symbol is copied and imitated? We’ll soon find out with Captain America’s shield, and what looks like a subpar replica — or some serious damage — in the final two episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

What Happened? — On April 12, Marvel Studios released the mid-season trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, hyping up the series’ last two episodes. In one shot, John Walker (Wyatt Russell) — as Captain America — walks toward the camera on a city street, carrying his shield. So, pretty much what you expect in a Captain America TV show. But wait. Look closer.

On the shield’s center star emblem are five silver lines jutting out. Even in HD, it’s hard to tell whether the lines are signs of damage or if it’s some awkward, intentional redesign. Either way, John Walker is carrying a different shield than the pristine one he’s held in the series thus far.

Thankfully, the trailer itself helpfully includes a ton of shots of the shield in pristine condition, as if it wants audiences to notice that Walker’s shield has something different about it.

John Walker’s Captain America shield, in almost mint condition, as seen in a previous episode.YouTube.com/Marvel Entertainment
John Walker’s “broken” shield, in an upcoming episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.YouTube.com/Marvel Entertainment

Getting Back the Shield — In consulting the official Inverse crystal ball, a wild guess we’re making is that Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) successfully steal Steve’s real Captain America shield from John Walker, which forces Walker to get a new, more inferior shield. Vibranium is very hard to come by, after all.

There’s at least one major scene set in Louisiana where Sam tests out Cap’s shield that we still haven’t seen. It is possible that in the next two episodes, Sam and John Walker will both have their own shield. But there’s only one shield to rule them all.

Alternatively, John Walker may still have Cap’s real shield, but it has sustained damage. Though it seems to have survived the fight with the Dora Milaje miraculously unscathed, it is still canon in the MCU that vibranium can scratch vibranium. (In Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther claws Cap’s shield, leaving a streak of scratch markings.)

It is possible the scene in question takes place after another brutal fight, one where the shield has taken some serious impact damage. Maybe a direct Falcon Punch from Bucky’s vibranium arm? Those new markings could be battle scars, or a hasty attempt to stitch the shield back together.

Who will hold the shield at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?Marvel Studios

Broken Arms — Supporting the theory that John Walker gets into an absolutely brutal fight is a leaked set photo, shared on Reddit’s r/marvelstudiosspoilers, of Wyatt Russell filming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier with a sling on his left arm — the arm he uses for the shield. It’s definitely a new injury, as Walker had no visible pain in the jaw-dropping cliffhanger of last week’s episode.

Unless Walker is faking his injury in the public eye, it’s possible the now-superpowered Walker suffers something extremely painful in the next episode, with the shield taking the most impact.

The Inverse Analysis — With two episodes left, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is finally picking up the same buzz that surrounded WandaVision, which means fans are perusing everything they can for clues about what will happen next. Fans of the comics know that Sam Wilson will pick up the shield of Captain America, eventually, and possibly lead the Avengers in the next Avengers team-up movie. But until then, Sam and Bucky have their hands full trying to get the shield back.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streams new episodes Fridays on Disney+.