Wyatt Russell teases The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s John Walker differs from and is more complex than his comic-book counterpart.
Wyatt Russell teases The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s John Walker differs from the comics. After watching Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as Captain America for the past decade, audiences didn’t take kindly to a stranger wielding his iconic shield in the series’ premiere episode (especially when the mantle was passed to Sam Wilson/Falcon). However, episode 2, “The Star-Spangled Man,” introduces us to John Walker, a seemingly well-intentioned, All-American hero who just wants to do the job and make people feel safe despite his lack of super strength.
Not soon after his résumé-like introduction, this new Captain America shows up to aid Sam and Bucky/the Winter Soldier in their fight with the Flag-Smashers, an anti-nationalist group of super-soldiers intent on returning the world to the way it was before the Blip. Although adept with the shield, Walker, not being a super-soldier, is easily disposed of without it. Not only does he (and his partner Battlestar) and the show’s titular heroes fail to stop the Flag-Smashers, but Sam and Bucky refuse to work with Walker; viewing him as a knock-off “Cap” and government puppet. Near the end of “The Star-Spangled Man,” Walker drops the nice guy act and offers a word of advice, “stay the hell out of my way;” foreshadowing an arc that may or may not resemble his comic book counterpart.
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In an interview with Deadline, Russell talked about the many comic book iterations of Walker and how confusing he found reading about his character on Wikipedia. Given that there are so many different storylines, the actor didn’t read any of the comics, absorbing only the essence of Walker (via artwork/body language) and advises the audience to do the same:
“What the MCU does very well — they don’t literally take everything from the comics and put it into characters. Sometimes they do a better job of making them more complex.”
Russell was also asked how easy it would be for Walker to give up the shield (when it inevitably goes to Sam) to which he replied, “how do you know he gives up the shield?” He went on to express how much fun it is to play such an unpredictable character—someone the audience is extremely skeptical of albeit without reason (aside from being a point of contention for the story’s heroes). In Marvel lore, Walker is often portrayed as a soldier who succeeds Steve Rogers as Captain America but is nothing like him. The character was conceived in 1986 as Rogers’ polar opposite, representing everything that’s wrong with patriotism—a theme very much in-line with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
At this point in the show, Walker is living, breathing propaganda, equatable to Rogers when he first received the super-soldier serum in Captain America: The First Avenger. That said, Walker seems determined to meet expectations no matter the cost. With the serum seemingly in play via the Flash-Smashers, Walker may try to get his hands and truly become like “Cap.” In the comics, Walker visits a mysterious figure in the underworld called the Power Broker, who gives people superpowers at a devastating cost. Failing to be the Captain America the world needs, Walker adapts the superhero name U.S. Agent (post-mental breakdown). While it’s easy to watch Walker and think of The Boys’ Homelander, it’s worth noting that he’s never really been portrayed as a villain but rather a byproduct of nationalism devoid of a moral compass. It’ll be interesting to see how his essence plays into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s already riveting take on a very tumultuous political climate.
More: Theory: The MCU Is Setting Up John Walker To Be Another Super Soldier
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