With just two episodes left of Marvel’s epic miniseries The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, it’s time to settle in for some theories and predictions. With Marvel Cinematic Universe veterans Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their respective roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, the show has finally given both characters a chance to truly step into the spotlight as they team up on a wild, explosive, and epic global adventure.
At this point, there are quite a few unresolved issues left up in the air for Sam, Bucky, and everyone else involved in this story. And not to mention, when ComicBook.com asked series writer Malcolm Spellman back in March which episode he’s most excited for everybody to see, he replied, “Hands down, five, it just gets real. And five, you’re going to cry.” Between the bits and pieces of scenes that we’ve yet to see that were teased in the trailers and Spellman’s comment, the ride absolutely isn’t finished yet.
In anticipation of what’s to come, we’ve gathered up the various pawns that are still on the board and examined the possible narrative trajectory for each of them.
Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and the Shield
Based on the trailers, we know for certain that Sam will regain possession of the shield once again. The images above indicate two distinct moments when Sam will have the shield: training back in Louisiana and suited up on a mission in some sort of dilapidated structure. It’s likely that Sam returning to Louisiana will play into the resolution of the series, given that he and Bucky will also hold a conversation in the yard about whether or not they’re a team. Based on their on-and-off snarky relationship throughout the films and in the show, it would make sense for this conversation to come in near the end as they resolve to stay in touch and continue working with one another (you know, instead of Bucky dodging his calls). There will also be scenes of them at the docks (please tell me these boys are going to team up and fix that damn boat!).
As for the shot of Sam suited up (there’s also a clip of him throwing the shield, battle-style, in that same scene), could this be related to reclaiming the shield from John Walker? Or will he be facing the Flag Smashers once again to stop their reign? Or could this simply be more of a closing scene of Sam on an unknown mission, functioning as a final visual confirmation that he has accepted the mantle of Captain America once and for all? It would be a great touch to see Sam connect with Isaiah Bradley again at some point, too. (April 12, 2021 Update: The mid-season sneak peek confirms this is a showdown with Walker!)
And where will Bucky end up? Whatever relationship he had left with Wakanda seems to have been damaged by his decision to break Zemo out of prison, though something important was undeniably forged during his time there when Ayo and Shuri worked tirelessly to complete the Winter Soldier deprogramming. But then again, it’s curious — at the very least — that he’s been referred to as White Wolf multiple times now in the series (will he take on this identity as his new mantle to further shed himself of the Winter Soldier?). Regardless, we feel confident that Bucky will be in a far better place on his track to recovery by the time the series closes, and he will hopefully begin to embrace his friendship with Sam.
The Flag Smashers
Even without the additional vials of the Super Soldier serum, it doesn’t seem that the Flag Smashers are in a rush to give up on their passionate cause anytime soon. Though Sam did manage to begin to get through to Karli in episode 4, it’s unclear at this time if he will be able to gain enough of her trust back to get that close to her again in order to reason with her. It would narratively make sense for the rage-filled John Walker to go after the Flag Smashers after the untimely death of his partner Battlestar, but that may be too dark of a turn considering what he’s capable of. Karli and her crew have swayed back and forth with their moral ambiguity, something that Sam made abundantly clear when he tried to level with her and give her a different perspective on her actions, so we’ll just have to see what end of the villainous spectrum they will fall on when all is said and done.
The return of Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo to the MCU has been one of the most delightful surprises of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, by far. Yes, yes, he’s a villain and he’s done terrible, unspeakable, unforgettable things. But Brühl plays this part damn well, and the series allowed him to truly bring the Baron to life in a whole new light after his convenient prison break. (I mean, come on, have you seen this guy tearing up the club?) The intentional choice to bring so much ambiguity toward Zemo this time around, rather than casting him off as a static villain, makes it difficult to discern just where he will land by the end of the series. In a perfect world, we’d see the MCU hold on tightly to the potential that Brühl brings to the table and eventually move forward with a film or series exploring the Thunderbolts. But in the more immediate future, based on the trailers, the most that we know is that he and Bucky will share what will likely be an important scene for both of them soon.
Near the end of the third episode, Zemo made a passing comment about Sam and Bucky not visiting the Sokovia memorial. We’ve seen two different clips of Zemo standing at what is probably said memorial in the trailers, which appear to take place at two different points in time (pictured above). There’s also a scene of Bucky pointing a gun at Zemo, and then subsequently dropping a handful of bullets, which looks to be at the memorial, too. Will Bucky go in search of him after his El Chapo-style escape in episode 4? Remembering that Zemo is on Bucky’s list of amends, this will perhaps be an exercise in Bucky sparing him while also finally freeing himself from the power the man exerted over him in the past. And circling back to Sam’s “What about Bucky?” Super Soldier comment to Zemo in episode 4, will the Baron learn to let go of his anger and vengeance as well?
So we can all agree that this guy has got to go at this point, right? Especially after that disturbing moment in the final scene of episode 4, “The Whole World Is Watching.” There are potentially two ways that this could play out — the first being that he eventually suffers the same fate as his partner Battlestar. However, there’s also the possibility of him going rogue once Sam reclaims the shield, and then he could take on his comic mantle as U.S. Agent. Either way, we can confidently say that he won’t be Captain America for much longer, especially considering the fact that multiple people filmed the brutal murder that he carried out with the shield.
Alright, something is totally up with Sharon Carter. Not to say that there’s anything surprising about her being a total badass and making the best that she can of her life in Madripoor, because we already knew how skilled and resourceful she is. But her bitter, new attitude toward superheroes, the constant ominous mentions of the Power Broker in Madripoor, her connections, her comment to her driver after the container yard incident, and that curious scene of her casually walking past all of the armed guards in episode 4 have left quite a few questions on the table. We’re not pointing any fingers just yet … but Sharon might be hiding something.
At this point in the game, it’s uncertain just how much The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is going to set up Joaquín Torres’ future in the MCU. In the comics, he takes on the Falcon mantle beside Sam Wilson’s Captain America (more on that here). However, we haven’t seen him over the course of the past two episodes, and the series already has a lot of content to iron out in episodes 5 and 6. Torres’ ties to Sam in the comics feel far too significant to be more than a passing Easter egg, so we’re holding out hope that something more is still to come of Danny Ramirez’s character. At the very least, this could be a great setup for his involvement in upcoming films.
Episode 4 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Episode 5 will land next Friday, April 16. Stick around for our weekly episodic recaps, theories, reviews, and more.