Warning - This article contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has finally come to a close, and fans are now left to reminisce on their favorite moments and look to where the series may go.
With the series potentially rebranding to Captain America and the Winter Soldier for a second season, it remains to be seen what the show will do with its other Captain America: John Walker.
"One World, One People" saw Wyatt Russell's character taking on his comic book mantle of US Agent, potentially signaling an even darker path to come. But is there still some good left in John Walker?
In the closing moments of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's series finale, John Walker finally suits up in his all-black U.S. Agent attire. Now working with Valentina Allegra De Fontaine, Walker has a new identity to call his own.
The US Agent typically hovers between a hero and villain role in the comics, and association with the contessa would certainly suggest a villainous route. But perhaps Walker could walk a different path...
MORAL GRAY AREA
It can't be denied; Walker made many questionable decisions during his tenure as Captain America, not limited to bashing a man to death with a Vibranium shield. But The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has delved deep into the moral gray area of superheroics, demonstrating that everything isn't always cut-and-dried.
The show's titular heroes didn't shy away from performing some morally dubious actions, with Sam and Bucky working with a literal mass murderer to achieve their goals. Heck, Sam wasn't afraid to blow up some bad guys if it meant saving the day in the show's premiere.
Characters previously established as being on the side of good like Sharon Carter have also been recontextualized into more questionable figures, asking the audience to reassess and reevaluate what it means to be a hero.
And John Walker has existed in that gray area too, often using aggression and direct confrontation as a means to get the job done. One minute he's rightfully reprimanding Sam and Bucky for enlisting help from a purple sock-wearing sociopath, the next minute he's going into situations headfirst to assert his position as the man with the shield. Walker is on the side of good, he just isn't the best at showing that.
This isn't necessarily justifying, absolving, or downplaying Walker's actions, but simply positing that he has been set up to be a tad more interesting and complicated than just being a through-and-through bad guy. Whittling Walker down to a simple villain would almost be a betrayal of what the creatives have built him up to be throughout the previous season, so it is more than likely he will question and doubt his new employer when he receives his mission orders.
CAP IS BACK
And there are still glimmers of hope for John Walker, even after he bashed that guy into a pulp. Even though his intentions were corrupted by ego and grief, his good intentions were still there.
Episode 6 saw the former Cap work together with Sam and Bucky on his own accord, lending his hand in their fight against the Flag-Smashers. He even chose to save the group of GRC members from certain doom instead of going after Karli Morgenthau, demonstrating that there is some part of him that puts compassion over vengeance.
John Walker's just a big Lincoln quote-spouting cornball that truly does want to help others at the heart of it all, and it seemed that Bucky wasn't totally opposed to him after their brief team-up.
His reaction to being bestowed the U.S. Agent title is another indicator of his aptitude to do good, with him gleefully repeating "I'm back!" to his wife Olivia following the good news. The shield means different things to different people, and to John Walker the shield gave him a new identity to mask his insecurity.
Now U.S. Agent gives him his own identity, sidestepping some of the lofty expectations that come with being Captain America. Walker was shown to be disenfranchised with some aspects of being Cap, so his new role should allow him to do "the job" that he was hoping to do from the start.
"Don't get me wrong, this has been great, it's been great, but it's been a lot of handshakes, a lot of suits, a lot of speeches, and senator meetings. I just wanna do the job."
A new batch of concept art for 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' was officially revealed.
Malcolm Spellman said that the writers of 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' discussed incorporating Sam Wilson's comic ability to communicate with birds, but there wasn't "a way to do that right" in the series.
Concept art of Bucky's White Wolf attire from 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' was officially revealed.
PAWN OF THE US GOVERNMENT
So what is the "job" that US Agent will get to do? Val told Walker that "things [were] about to get weird," which really doesn't narrow things down.
The location where John Walker receives his U.S. Agent title is peculiar, as it is the same place where he was less than honorably discharged and stripped of his title as Captain America. Why would Walker be able to return to an official government building after all that has happened?
This choice of setting could be telling, possibly indicating that Val has certain ties within the U.S. government. Perhaps Valentina has a backdoor of some kind to allow John Walker to continue working under the government once again, just a bit more covertly this time. Alternatively, perhaps Val is using this governmental association as a front, manipulating Walker into believing that his work is all a force for good.
In the comics, U.S. Agent is well known for his association with the Commission on Superhuman Activities, a governmental organization formed to keep tabs on those with superpowers. Since Walker is all suped up on serum, he seems to be quite capable (at least physically, maybe not mentally) with keeping an eye on superpowered individuals. In terms of Valentina's goal with this, perhaps she is hoping to eliminate those that could get in her way or recruit other gifted people onto her side.
So why Walker? She knows what he is capable of, so perhaps she is banking on Walker continuing to use his rage and aggression against others. The lack of a Captain America title to weigh him down and a possibly more undercover role would enable him to do so, giving him freewill to punch, kick, smash, bash, and butcher anyone he so pleases. All for a good cause, of course.
There is also the possibility that she could be prepping him for...
THE DARK AVENGERS
It's been the talk of the town as of late, but it is also entirely possible that Valentina Allegra De Fontaine could be assembling her own Dark Avengers. Val was originally intended to make her MCU debut in Black Widow, which could pose the idea that Taskmaster is another individual on her radar.
Perhaps Walker was chosen by Val to be the leader of this makeshift team, fulfilling the role that he was meant to as Captain America. As established, there is a good person in Walker underneath the bravado, aggression and self-doubt, so he may not be so welcome to teaming up with a group of former baddies. The character was already hesitant when working with Zemo, so a whole team of supervillains could be too far beyond his morals.
With the direction that Walker is going, perhaps he will go into his partnership with Val truly believing that he will be given the opportunity to do good. Valentina may then attempt to push the U.S. Agent to his limits, challenging his ethics by giving him missions that he might not be comfortable with, even for him. This could then culminate in a redemption arc of sorts, with Walker finally acknowledging his long list of bad decisions and poor judgement and choosing to be better.
Ultimately, the finale seems to suggest that John Walker isn't set to be an all-out villain the next time we see him. While we don't know what Valentina is cooking up just yet, his sheer glee over his new role really makes it seem like John doesn't know what he is getting himself into. There's clearly a grand plan for U.S. Agent going forward, and he probably won't react well when he finds out that he's been played.