This article contains The Falcon and the Winter Soldier spoilers.
While there are still a number of tantalizing missing credits at the end of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 2, including a placeholder for Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, we do get to meet (and in one instance, hear about) some familiar characters from Marvel Comics who make their MCU debut in episode 2 of the Disney+ series.
If you’re not overly familiar with their comics-based origins, though, you might not be too sure about the backstory of our new The Falcon and the Winter Soldier players, or what impact their introduction may have on the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward.
Never fear, we’re here to help!
Isaiah Bradley – Captain America
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier examines the legacy of Captain America from numerous angles. In Marvel Comics, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, John Walker, and Isaiah Bradley all suited up as Cap at various points, so the appearance of Carl Lumbly as Bradley marks yet another historic notch in the story of Captain America.
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 2, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) drags Sam (Anthony Mackie) along to Isaiah Bradley’s humble home during their investigation into where the Flag-Smashers might be getting their Super Soldier Serum. Bucky once encountered Bradley decades ago in Goyang, South Korea when he was acting as HYDRA’s Winter Soldier, and realized that Bradley had been imbued with super strength, but kept it secret after Bradley ended up being a worthy match – destroying half of Bucky’s bionic arm in their face-off. Bradley is less than happy to see Bucky re-emerge asking for information, telling Sam and Bucky to get out of his house and leave him alone.
Bradley’s basic story in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is fairly similar to the one in the comics, where he was just one of 300 African-American soldiers who were experimented on in an attempt to reformulate the Super Soldier Serum. Of those 300 soldiers, Bradley was the only one to make it through, and went on to suit up as Captain America, choosing to fight in WWII against the wishes of the military. He eventually spent 17 years behind bars for treason, and his past as Cap was kept under wraps.
Lemar Hoskins – Battlestar
We also meet John Walker’s sidekick in episode 2. Lemar Hoskins (Cle Bennett) has been enlisted to help the new Captain America track down bad guys for the US government following the disappearance of Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson’s decision to pass up the Cap mantle. Hoskins fights at Walker’s side under the codename “Battlestar” but is quickly in trouble during a tussle with the Flag-Smashers and their super strength.
Hoskins originally made his debut in Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America #323 as an Army pal of Walker’s who also got his super strength from the Power Broker (more on him in a bit) and went on to become a professional wrestler in Marvel’s Unlimited Class Wrestling circuit. Much like in the series, Hoskins then fought alongside Walker when he was Captain America, first as the “new Bucky” and later as Battlestar.
Elijah Bradley – Patriot
We meet Eli Bradley, Isaiah’s grandson, when he answers the door to Sam and Bucky in episode 2. At first denying any knowledge of his grandfather, he eventually lets them inside after Bucky reveals his 1950s connection to Isaiah. We don’t get any hints that Eli will be of any importance to the MCU’s ongoing story during his introduction in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but it’s very likely that he’ll be back!
Eli is a fairly new character in the pages of Marvel Comics, having arrived on the scene in the 2005 Young Avengers run from Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung at a time when the older Avengers had disbanded. In the comics, Eli initially claims to have been blessed with Super Soldier Serum, but we later find out that this isn’t true. He does eventually get a transfusion of Isaiah’s blood, however, granting him a flow of the serum.
This young man could certainly show up in the MCU’s version of Young Avengers if Marvel decides to go down that road (and given the introduction of two other key Young Avengers on WandaVision with Wanda’s kids, Wiccan and Speed, and the impending introduction of Kate Bishop on Hawkeye that seems like a real possibility. He could be a key member of that team as his alter ego, Patriot.
In episode 2, we find out that the Flag-Smashers may have got their superhuman strength via a shadowy figure known as the Power Broker. This is the first mention of the Marvel Comics villain in the MCU, but it looks like he will be a major player in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Yep, it appears Marvel has been hiding a secret guest star in the run up to the series’ debut, one who will surely fill an empty slot in the end credits soon enough!
We don’t know much about this version of the Power Broker yet, only that he is feared by those who deign to cross him, but in the comics there are two versions of the Power Broker to draw from.
There’s the Curtiss Jackson Power Broker, who founded a company that blessed paying customers with superhuman strength – for a price – and who was also responsible for both John Walker and Lemar Hoskins getting their powers. He played a key role in the Mark Gruenwald-penned Captain America comics that have inspired much of this show. Then there’s Dan Slott and Christos N. Gage’s more modern version of Power Broker, who has a much more mysterious past. It’s possible that in true MCU fashion, the version we meet on screen will be a blend of both.
Right now, Walker and Hoskins are keen to assume their new superhero roles as Captain America and Battlestar, but they don’t quite have what it takes to dominate their opponents yet. It seems the Power Broker may be able to give them the extra strength they need to do the same kind of superhuman job as Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes …with some added Super Soldier Serum.
Will Walker and Hoskins incur the debt in future episodes?