The ending of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier left fans with numerous loose ends to set the stage for the future of the MCU, and it's clear that Sam and Bucky's story isn't over. The series creator Malcolm Spellman is currently writing a fourth Captain America movie that will presumably feature Sam Wilson in the titular role this time instead of Steve.
Marvel Studios has for the most part cautiously avoided any questions regarding second seasons to any of its Disney+ projects and so far it seems most will be one-and-done. Based on what's been seen with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, the studio will mainly use its shows to set up other projects to come down the line, instead of telling multi-seasons stories.
Prior to the release of the Disney+ series, showrunner Malcolm Spellman confirmed the story will connect at least three future Marvel Studios projects. After watching the concluding installment, it wasn't exactly apparently what these projects are, however, there are some clear links to the Don Cheadle-led Armor Wars that will release next year.
IS THE POWER BROKER THE ARMOR WARS VILLAIN?
It's not exactly a surprise to see The Falcon and the Winter Soldier setting the stage for Armor Wars, as in many ways the two are very similar. The most recent Disney+ epic explored the legacy of Captain America and his shield, meanwhile, War Machine's solo outing is set to dive into the legacy of Tony Stark and his technology.
As was theorized by many, this week's concluding episode revealed Sharon Carter as the Power Broker crime boss of Madripoor. It's believed the former spy took up this position after The Blip, having spent years on the run for going rogue and helping Steve Rogers' team in Captain America: Civil War.
However, in a game-changing post-credit scene, Carter was pardoned and returned to her role in the CIA. Immediately after her pardon, Carter made a call to an unknown recipient to tell them that they're about to have “full access to government secrets” and “prototype weapons.”
Based on Sharon's villainous phone call, it seemed as if the person she was speaking to was either a partner or someone she's working for. As of now, there aren't any obvious clues as to who was on the other end of the line, but whoever it is could be the main antagonist of Armor Wars, since it's unlikely the Power Broker herself would be.
Some have speculated that Iron Man 2's Justin Hammer could be involved in the series as he had a strong interest in replicating Stark technology in his debut appearance. If this is the case, this could very well be who Carter was in contact with in the recent post-credit scene.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has previously explained that Armor Wars will see Tony Stark's biggest fear come true as his legendary technology falls into the wrong hands. This could indicate Sharon may return in Rhodey's solo outing as she gains access to Tony Stark's technology through her high-ranking government position.
It's a logical assumption that after Tony's death, his remaining suits and advanced technology may have fallen into government hands, as Stark had signed the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War. It's likely the Accords made any of a fallen hero's equipment property of the government to ensure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
Don Cheadle's Colonel James Rhodes even appeared in the first episode of the series for a heart-to-heart conversation with Sam, however, he sadly never suited up into his iconic armor. The brief cameo made it clear he and Sam have kept in touch since their Avengers: Endgame team up, potentially leaving the doors open for the new Captain America to have his own cameo next year.
Additionally, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set up Joaquin Torres to be the MCU's next Falcon now that Sam has officially become Captain America. Much like Rhodey, Torres is a high-ranking member of the US air force, so it would make sense if the two had met at some point. This could make Armor Wars a perfect place for Torres to return, and finally don the iconic wings.
WHAT WILL CAPTAIN AMERICA 4 BE ABOUT?
Given the recent report of a fourth Captain America movie, presumably centering around Sam Wilson in the titular role, this is clearly one of the three connections Spellman was referencing. What exactly the plot could be is incredibly hard to predict as the film is likely at least three years away still, and Sam Wilson will probably return in at least a few more projects before that point.
Feige has previously revealed Marvel's Disney+ series will tie directly into the theatrical release, however, it's yet to be seen exactly how essential viewing they will be. With 24 films and two shows already existing in the MCU, it's becoming increasingly difficult for casual fans to avoid being left behind.
Assuming Captain America 4 acts as a direct sequel to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it would likely continue Sharon Carter's villainous arc. Additionally, it would likely see the return of John Walker's US Agent, now working for Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.
Given neither of those plot points seems to have the steam to carry an entire film, it's likely another major Captain America villain will be introduced to serve as the main antagonist.
HAS THE SECRET INVASION ALREADY BEGUN?
The Samuel L. Jackson-led Secret Invasion series is set to release on Disney+ next year, and it seems Marvel is setting the stage for the major event. In the comics, the Skrull-centric crossover is one of the biggest in history as many of the biggest characters were revealed as alien imposters.
Many of the MCU's latest projects have included Skrull reveals ever since Nick Fury and Maria Hill were revealed to be impersonated by Talos and Soren in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Following this, a Skrull appeared in the ending of WandaVision to contact Monica Rambeau. And now another Skrull has been spotted in the Loki trailer suggesting they will pop up there too.
This would make The Falcon and the Winter Soldier the only Marvel project out of four to not involve the Skrulls, so it stands to reason that perhaps one of its characters could be a Skrull imposter.
In the Marvel Comics version of Secret Invasion, Dreyfus' character Valentina is one of the first characters to be revealed as a Skrull imposter. Given it's believed she will have a substantial role in the future of the MCU, a similar reveal could be prepared for next year's Disney+ event.
While some believe Sharon's villainous turn is due to a Skrull imposter, however, she clearly has enough motivation for a criminal downturn. After her many years spent on the run for her heroic actions and five years spent blipped, it makes sense why she would be fed up with the world.
ARE THERE ANY SPIN-OFFS ON THE WAY?
John Walker's Captain America-turned US Agent saw a major redemption arc by the end of the series as he accepted he wasn't the right person to carry the legendary mantle, however, opted to be a hero anyway. While he was initially established as an antagonist, throughout the finale he joined Sam and Bucky in the fight against the Flag Smashers as a hero in his own right.
Wyatt Russell's performance has been praised by many fans, leading some to call for a US Agent Disney+ series to further explore Walker and Valentina. It'd be particularly exciting to learn more about Walker's custom-made shield, as it's still unclear what metal it could be made of.
Additionally, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier began to establish the various members of the Thunderbolts, potentially setting up the team to unite down the line. Some common members include Barron Zemo, Batroc, Taskmaster, and Abomination, all of which will appear at some point in Phase Four.
Whenever the team eventually assembles, John Walker could make the perfect character to lead the tea, given his new heroic nature and military-leading experience.
All six episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.