The universe is expanding.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the opportunity to flesh out its heroes like never before. With The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set for a six-week episodic run, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are set to re-introduce themselves to viewers on a much more personal level, consequently altering what it means to be a good guy.

A NEW AGE OF HEROES

The legacy of that shield is complicated.

In an exclusive interview with The Direct, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier director Kari Skogland spoke about developing this spiritual successor to the extensive Captain America franchise. Skogland noted her goal with the show was to build upon the MCU's past, while also carving out her own unique niche :

“Well, [I was] obviously looking at all of the MCU and as many of the comics that I can possibly absorb, to get that in my DNA, and then mix it up as much as I possibly could."

The Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan-led series will see the former confront his new responsibilities head-on. Despite being handed the shield in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame , Skogland said Sam's response to taking on the mantle is far from a straightforward answer:

“And of course, because we’re on the ride with Sam, and he’s handed the shield, we don’t know what he’s going to do with that shield. It’s an exploration of his willingness, what it is going to be for a black man to take on the shield, if he should take on the shield.”

Because of the uncertainty of Falcon's future, Skogland emphasized that this star-spangled series will address the “Captain America idea” and what it means in the context of the MCU's America:

“It’s a very big conversation that really I think takes the Captain America idea and shakes it up in a big way. What is Captain America? What is a man who is a hero? What is a hero? That’s really at the core of the conversation, is the re-definition of a hero.”

THE CAPTAIN AMERICA IDEA

Through numerous trailers and TV spots, it's clear that the word “complicated” will be synonymous with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Heroes are no longer as black and white as they used to be. The best protagonists are infused with flaws, leading them to operate with more of a shade of grey. As Skogland mentioned, this patriotic program will take that concept and run with it.

In his various MCU appearances, Captain America has simply been a character embodied by Steve Rogers. While Old Man Rogers is retired, the Captain America legacy is still adamantly active.

That said, can just anyone wield the shield? Are Steve's traits and values expected to be carried on with the mantle? Considering Skogland's emphasis on the “re-definition of a hero,” it sounds like whoever takes on the title will have their own ideas of what Captain America should be.

With names like Sam Wilson and U.S. Agent vying for the role, as well as the rumored inclusion of both Isaiah and Eli Bradley , this star-spangled series has many names at play that all promise to offer their own spin on what it means to be a hero.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres next Friday, March 19, exclusively streaming on Disney+.

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