This article contains Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 1 spoilers, possibly spoilers for future episodes, and the wider MCU. We have a spoiler free review here.
Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 1 has finally arrived on Disney+. Now, those of you hoping for mystery box storytelling and surreal weirdness the likes of which we got from WandaVision may be a little disappointed. But those of you looking for some gritty street-and-spy-level action with a deeper look at life in the post-Snap/Blip MCU, well, you’re in luck.
Oh? But you’re here for Marvel Comics and MCU Easter eggs, you say? Well, you’re still in luck, friend! The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is full of subtle nods to Marvel and Captain America history, and continues to connect the dots in the ever-expanding MCU.
Here’s everything we found…and if you spot something we missed, let us know in the comments!
- The stuff with Sam ironing his own shirt, or trying to help his sister get a small business loan is some real “the mundanity of superhero life” stuff that we rarely get a glimpse of in the movies, but that was such a hallmark of what separated Marvel Comics from their competitors in their early days.
- In the MCU, Sam is from Louisiana. But in the comics, he was born and raised in Harlem, New York City.
- Sam’s sister, Sarah Wilson, also known as Sarah Casper, was introduced back in Captain America #134 back in 1971, and created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. She’s made only a few appearances over the decades and mainly exists for the novelty of having the patriotic superhero be known as “Uncle Sam.”
- The boat that Sam’s sister maintains is named Paul and Darlene, named for their parents, and those were indeed the names of his parents in the pages of Marvel Comics.
- Sam’s drop out of the back of the airplane at the start of the Captain Vassant rescue mission mirrors Steve’s in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- The MCU’s version of Bubo is also back in action! Redwing is still very helpful during Sam’s “government contracts” it appears, as long as no one else messes with the drone’s wires. Also, Sam’s personal devotion to the Redwing drone is a nice nod to the fact that Redwing is a real falcon in the comics, and Sam’s pet/buddy.
- Sam gets to have a sombre conversation with James “War Machine” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) in what is perhaps just the first of many unannounced The Falcon and the Winter Soldier appearances by other members of the MCU. We already know there will be a larger role for Sharon “Agent 13” Carter in later episodes. Who else might show up?
- Fittingly for his Marvel spinoff series, Bucky is introduced in the same way he was back in Captain America: The First Avenger – catching the tail end of an alleyway fight.
- Bucky Barnes has now been pardoned for all the terrible crimes he committed, it’s quickly revealed. Doesn’t look like he’s pardoned himself, mind. Not by a long shot.
- Bucky mentions having a sister. While it hasn’t been brought up much, he did have one in the comics. Rebecca Barnes was introduced in The Marvel Holiday Special #1 in a story written by Len Kaminski (hence the notebook Easter egg, which we’ll get to in a minute) and tremendously underrated ’90s comics artist Ron Lim. After the deaths of their parents, Bucky and Rebecca were separated. Her namesake was reintroduced during Heroes Reborn, where Rikki Barnes was Cap’s sidekick in Counter-Earth.
- In Derek Landy’s new Falcon & Winter Soldier comics, Bucky has adopted a very chill white cat called Alpine. No sign of Alpine in episode one, but we refuse to give up hope.
The eager Lt. Torres (played by On My Block star Danny Ramirez) who clearly idolizes Sam appears to be none other than Joaquin Torres, who eventually took on the mantle of the Falcon in the comics. So if Sam is destined to become Captain America on this show, will Torres become his sidekick? We hope so!
Just like at the start of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we get a confrontation with Georges Batroc (ze leaper!), once again played by Georges St. Pierre. Batroc is such a cool but minor Cap villain, and we never need to spend a lot of time with him, but we do hope he keeps showing up from time to time for cool fight scenes, just like he does in the comics. It’s nice to see that while they’ll never give him his ridiculous comics costume, he’s wearing his comics-appropriate colors here.
- The masked baddies of this episode are known as the Flag-Smashers, an organization who want to do away with all national borders. There’s lots of ways this show deals with the weirdness of the MCU after the Snap, but the increasing radicalization of underground supervillain groups appears to be one neat side effect.
- They take their name from the comic book supervillain Flag-Smasher (singular). Flag-Smasher was created by Cap writer supreme Mark Gruenwald and artist Paul Neary back in 1985. The original Flag-Smasher was Karl Morgenthau (remember that name, we’ll come back to it in a second), and he was a non-powered costumed terrorist who led an organization known as ULTIMATUM, “The Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind” (folks, ‘80s Captain America comics absolutely freakin’ RULE).
- The woman handing out the Flag Smasher masks was tough to make out, but that appears to be was Erin Kellyman (Enfys Nest from Solo: A Star Wars Story) playing “Karli Morgenthau.” In other words, she’s probably the leader of the organization, not the big, scary dude with super soldier strength. But speaking of him…
- The big scary guy is credited as “Dovich” and he’s played by Desmond Chiam. How did he get so strong? Well, the words “Power Broker Watching” appear in the credits, and the Power Broker was key to John Walker getting his super soldier strength, as well as several other minor Marvel characters. Remember what we said about how awesome ’80s Captain America comics are? You’re about to find out!
- Sam’s crack about “bad guys” with “bad names” in regards to the Flag-Smashers also applies to real world nitwits who go around calling themselves names like “Proud Boys.”
We wrote more about the Marvel Comics legacy of the Flag-Smashers here.
There are some standout names in Bucky’s notebook, notably L. Kaminski (probably ‘80s Marvel writer and editor Len Kaminski) and H. Zemo (as in Captain America: Civil War and this very show’s baddie Helmut Zemo).
We wrote more about those names here.
- In the Smithsonian exhibit where Sam and Rhodey chat, there are lots of artifacts from Steve’s life, mostly taken from the era of Captain America: The First Avenger like the Howling Commando uniforms, but there’s something else cool there: the actual cover of Captain America Comics #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the first appearance of the character. Remember, as part of the propaganda effort during the war to make Captain America a symbol of the wartime effort in the MCU, these comics were a thing. This means that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby also existed in the MCU, but their stories were meant to be chronicles about a real person.
Where’s Steve Rogers?
- It seems that only a few people might know what really happened to Steve Rogers. Has Old Cap now passed on, or is he alive somewhere ready to make an appearance in the show at a later date? Many fans are still hoping for a Chris Evans cameo, and we’ve seen trailers for the series where Sam and Bucky apparently practice throwing Cap’s shield around out in the woods. Perhaps there’s a secluded cabin nearby…
- The conspiracy theory about Captain America secretly watching us from the moon is likely a reference to Nick Fury in the comics. The events of Original Sin showed that Fury had been secretly waging wars on potential alien invaders for years. Uatu the Watcher put a series of events in motion so that he would die, but Fury’s immoral actions would be exposed. In the end, Fury was forced to become the new Watcher — the Unseen — and was imprisoned on the moon, looking over Earth as his new job. Coincidentally, Bucky took up his alien-fighting job in the aftermath.
- It also feels a little like The Last Avengers Story, a dystopian Avengers comic from the mid-90s. It’s explained that at some point, Steve Rogers was President and was assassinated. In the final scene, it’s revealed that he’s been secretly recovering and has been watching over the world in a bunker.
Who is the New Captain America?
The new Captain America that we meet so briefly here is Wyatt Russell as John Walker. Who is John Walker, you ask? Well, John Walker was ALSO the new Captain America in the comics! But before that he was the reactionary supervillain known as the Super-Patriot. He took over the mantle of Captain America after the government decided they wanted Steve Rogers to be more of an employee and less a free agent symbol of liberty. After his time as Cap was up, John became the U.S.Agent. That’s all you’re gonna get out of us for now, for fear of spoilers.
- No, we don’t know who the L.A.F. are supposed to be, either.
- The “government official” who introduces John Walker is played by Alphie Hyorth, and is simply credited as “government official” in the credits. That seems pretty suspicious to us, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being revealed with a recognizable Marvel Universe name like Henry Peter Gyrich or something down the line.
- Names like Captain Vassant, Congressman Lockhart, Senator Atwood, or Bucky’s therapist Dr. Raynor appear to check out Marvel-wise.