The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is helping to expand the story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a real-world level, after 2021 kicked off with the alternate-reality madness of WandaVision in January. Picking up in a post-Avengers: Endgame world still reeling from the effects of The Blip, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are faced with new challenges that are a direct product of the times in 2023 (or possibly 2024).
In direct opposition to the titular duo is the Flag Smashers, led by Erin Kellyman's Karli Morgenthau. This group of anarchists has made it perfectly clear that they feel the world was better when half of the universe had turned to dust, and they proved in "Episode 2" that they will do anything necessary to bring Earth back to the way it was during that time.
In a grayer area stands Wyatt Russell's John Walker, who was presented with Steve Rogers' shield and presented to the public as the new Captain America. In his most recent interview, Russell gave some insight into how he's approaching his venture with Marvel Studios on a few levels.
THE RUSSELL LEGACY CONTINUES IN THE MCU
In a new exclusive from Entertainment Tonight, U.S. Agent actor Wyatt Russell spoke about his approach to playing the character in Marvel Studios' The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and teased the character's future.
Russell revealed that he didn't hesitate for a moment when taking on this new version of Captain America after Chris Evans' iconic run as Steve Rogers. Taking a page from his own character's dialogue in "Episode 2," Russell confirmed that he's "not trying to do what Chris Evans did," intentionally making Walker a different person altogether:
"Because it's different. Obviously, I'm not trying to do what Chris Evans did. It's exciting for people to put on to the character, 'Well, you're not that guy!' And you're like, you know, 'That's kind of the point.'"
Some of Walker's actions and mannerisms raised some early red flags in his first full episode, which Russell said was "100 percent" to leave fans questioning his true intentions. He even teased some of what's coming through the rest of the series on that level by teasing that "you might side-eye the man for more to come."
Russell is the second member of his family to join the MCU after his father, Kurt, famously played Ego the Living Planet in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.
This connection left him well aware of Marvel's penchant for hiding spoilers and secrets, confirming that what's coming after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's first season ends "[is] above [his] pay grade." However, his approach is simply to "try to do a good job and hopefully this one is good," potentially leading to more MCU appearances in the future:
"I just try to do a good job and hopefully this one is good, and it's good enough to make more -- but it's above my pay grade."
Russell joked about always having "two guys with black suits ready to take (him) away any moment" for leaking any material, which led him to adopt his own method to keep the show's secrets. He simply "tried to just forget everything for, like, for real" so that he really couldn't spoil any major plot reveals still to come.
"It is like a vault. I always joke, 'I have two guys with black suits ready to take me away any moment.' They're standing right behind the camera [now] staring daggers into me! (laughs) I did it and tried to just forget everything for, like, for real. So, I really don't know the answer to some questions. And it's much easier to do it that way."
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Wyatt Russell is undoubtedly using his father's experience from Phase 2 of the MCU to his advantage, learning quickly how intense the franchise is when it comes to avoiding spoilers. His approach to accomplishing this goal is admirable and, so far, fans can only guess what's coming for the classic comic character after one full episode of action.
As for John Walker, it's evident that fans have only scratched the surface of his potentially dark core as he takes on the Captain America mantle following Steve Rogers' retirement. He's fully on board with the government and not afraid to take enemies down by any means necessary; he even bluntly tells Sam and Bucky to "stay the hell out of my way" after trying to bring them on as his wingmen earlier in the plot.
The feeling of uneasiness among fans is sure to intensify in the next four episodes as Walker likely finds himself more at odds with Steve Rogers' closest friends. It's clear that the story won't come from Russell himself, but he's just as excited as anybody to find out how Walker evolves more into his anti-hero persona from the comics.
The first two episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are available to stream on Disney+. "Episode 3" will premiere on Friday, April 2, 2021.