Warning - This article contains major spoilers for "Episode 2" of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's second episode formally introduced viewers to John Walker, the government's selection as the new Captain America.
Many fans were immediately distrustful when the character first appeared at the end of last week's premiere after Sam Wilson gave up the shield earlier in the episode, but a lot of people were left with more conflicted feelings on the character after watching "The Star-Spangled Man".
The episode shows how Walker is both similar and different from the original owner of the Captain America shield, Steve Rogers. Like Rogers, Walker isn't into the public relations part of the job and just wants to get into the action and help people, but he's also coming across as a bit more cocky and rough than the previous holder of the mantle.
AN ACTOR'S TAKE
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, actor Wyatt Russell, who plays John Walker, shared his own thoughts on the character. He described the difference between Walker and someone "fighting for something more than just getting the job done" like Steve Rogers:
"John's the type of guy who's like, 'Look, you want me to do the job? I will finish the job for you. Sometimes that might require things in the grey areas where you are not comfortable but I am, and I need to be able to do my job."
Russell also described the core questions Walker has to face in the series, such as "Who am I in this suit:"
"Who am I in this suit? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to the people watching? Everybody has this idea of imposter syndrome to a degree, like even Sam at the beginning. [Sam] didn't necessarily feel comfortable with being Captain America. He didn't feel right. Everybody deals with those things differently. So, it's a big difference between this guy [John] and Steve. He's a little bit more of a [jump in] head first type guy."
Looking at The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's upcoming episodes, Russell teased that his character's role in the story is "a wrench that gets thrown into the whole deal" in terms of Sam's "hero's journey" and becoming "a fully realized person." Russell explained that "[Walker is] an obstacle in that."
THE MEANING BEHIND THE MANTLE
It's notable that Russell emphasizes that even John Walker - who seems more confident about taking on the Captain America role than Sam Wilson - has doubts and concerns over his own abilities to fill the shoes left behind by Steve Rogers. The show is already demonstrating how Walker is handling the pressure and responsibilities of being Captain America differently than both Steve and Sam, and this will no doubt be something highlighted for the remainder of its run.
Russell's comments also hint at the character potentially taking a dark turn down the road; Walker already told Sam and Bucky to "stay out of [his] way," and the first episode's fight scene on the moving truck hinted that he might be more willing to jump to intense violence to complete his mission than either Steve or Sam, as well as a bit being more compulsive.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's first two episodes are now available to stream on Disney+.