This article contains SPOILERS for THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.
One of the more controversial narrative threads of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was the journey of former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter. The niece of S.H.I.E.L.D. charter member and Steve Rogers’ great love Peggy Carter (and, briefly, a love interest for Cap as well), the well-meaning and pure-intentioned Sharon found herself out of favor with the U.S. government and on the lam after helping Steve in his quest to find and clear Bucky Barnes in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War — which included disregarding orders and returning the shield to Steve.
When we are reintroduced to Sharon (played by Emily VanCamp) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, she is now bitter and cynical, cut off from her former life back home, seemingly forgotten by Steve, and now living in the shadows in the tough environs of Madripoor. But as the show progresses, we learn that she is much more than that — she is the person known only for most of the show as the Power Broker, whose shockingly murderous agenda eventually puts her in direct conflict with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan), while carefully concealing the truth from them.
The evolution of Sharon from stalwart hero to what appears to be outright villain — at the end of the show, she accepts a pardon and a new job from the U.S. government, only to immediately make plans to begin selling state secrets and classified tech — has been one of the more divisive outcomes of TFATWS, with both fans and critics weighing in on her arc and whether it even made sense.
TFATWS head writer Malcolm Spellman tells Den of Geek that he is quite aware of the shitstorm that Sharon’s journey has stirred up with fans.
“Some fans were upset with where Sharon ended up,” acknowledges Spellman. “Emily is an awesome actor and Sharon Carter is an awesome character. To me, there’s more to do with her now. The decision was not arbitrary. We sat up and tracked everything that likely happened to her after Civil War. She’d been shut out by all the intelligence agencies, so that when she tried to make overtures to come back, they tried to grab her and arrest her. So they forced her into being a criminal. She was discarded, she was betrayed by the institutions that made her. Similar to John Walker, but way more aggressively.”
Spellman adds, “[So] she had to become what she became. It just happened very, very organically. I do think we were mindful of her legacy, coming from a place where her family is Marvel royalty. But at the same time, you have got to let the MCU exist as its own universe. Sharon did go on that journey and we need to pay it off. I would argue there’s a lot to do with her now.”
That’s a fair argument in some ways — Sharon was pretty much a useful accessory to Cap and the other rogue Avengers in Civil War, but her onscreen time in her two MCU movies didn’t provide her with much of a chance to develop. The idea of her loyalty and patriotism becoming collateral damage in the wake of that, the Blip, and all that has occurred since is a sound one — even if the motivation behind specific actions she took in TFATWS remains fuzzy and seemingly underwritten in the eyes of many.
One thing seems clear: we have yet to see the last of Sharon. At some point her true agenda — and the people she’s working with as the Power Broker — will come to light, whether it’s in Captain America 4 or, as some fans are already theorizing, in the Secret Invasion series, where many think she’ll be revealed as a Skrull. Will she end up being a fake Sharon Carter after all? If so, where is the real one? And if not, if this is truly who she is now, will she get a chance to redeem herself and the Carter name? Like another well-loved woman in the MCU, she’s got some red in her ledger now. A lot of it.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming on Disney+.