Marvel Studios ‘THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER’: Who is John Walker?
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand, Marvel Studios continues to draw from its large stable of characters for their upcoming projects. For fans whose exposure to Marvel characters has come from seeing them on the big screen, knowledge of these characters can range from being barely familiar to Jon Snow levels of knowing; fortunately, Murphy’s Multiverse is here to help. Welcome to a Murphy’s Multiverse Meet and Greet.
In July of 2019, Kevin Feige revealed that actor Wyatt Russell would be portraying John Walker in 2020’s The Falcon and The Winter Solider. First introduced in 1986’s Captain America #323, Walker, also known as U.S. Agent, followed an interesting arc that saw him introduced as a villain before taking on the title of Captain America and joining the West Coast Avengers for a time. Described by creator Mark Gruenwald as someone “who embodied patriotism in a way that Captain America didn’t—a patriotic villain”, Walker sometimes served as the dark shadow of Steve Rogers both in his actions as a villain and even in his interactions with his Avengers teammates once he was reformed. Like Rogers, Walker’s enhanced abilities were the result of an experimental process in a lab; unlike Rogers, Walker was not, at heart, a beacon of morality.
Over the years Walker has continually found himself working on both sides of the law: he fought against Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts but also found himself serving as the Captain America analogue on Osborn’s Dark Avengers. While he always believes he’s doing what is best for his country, his short fuse and reactionary nature have often led to him brutally killing his enemies, drawing an even greater contrast to Rogers.
So how does Walker fit into The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? While Feige likes to remind us that he doesn’t like making live-action adaptations that are drawn entirely from comics, the comics do give us a pretty decent idea of what we might see. After one of a few times that Steve Rogers gave up the Captain America identity, the U.S. Government’s Commission on Superhuman Activities (an organization that could very well be run by Thunderbolt Ross in the MCU) chose John Walker to serve as their new Captain America after also considering Nick Fury and Sam Wilson for the job. The recently revealed concept art for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier indicates that the series follow the lead of the comics in this instance as Walker certainly looks the part of the government’s “New Cap.”
While Walker is likely not the main villain of the series, he is certainly going to begin the series at odds with Sam and Bucky who are likely to be exploring their own ways of keeping Rogers’ legacy alive. This should lead to some interesting conflicts between the two sides, perhaps reminiscent of their interactions in Nick Spencer’s 2015’s Captain America: Sam Wilson which saw the two men come on opposite sides of how to ideologically carry Cap’s legacy in the modern world.
Whatever the case, I fully expect Walker’s U.S Agent to make it out of the series and to continue to appear in the MCU. Where we might see him again remains to be seen, but with the Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo returning to an Avenger-less, a stint on the Thunderbolts, should they appear, would seem about right for Walker.