No matter what kind of day I’ve been having, I’ve found that there is one sound that’s guaranteed to boost my mood: the Marvel intro theme. From early January through mid-April, I kept up with the two shows that Marvel had consecutively released each Friday: Wandavision, and, more recently, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There’s something special about Marvel movies and shows that gets my brain working, trying to predict, understand, and unlock the secrets and tiny Easter eggs hidden within their programs. Since there are still about seven weeks before the Disney+ series, Loki, premieres on the streaming platform, I’ll be using that time to process the ending of TFATWS. Here are four things I’ve been left wondering after finishing the show – spoilers ahead!
1. Sharon’s shady return to the US government
It wouldn’t be a Marvel show if there wasn’t a mid-credits scene. After we get the heartwarming, wholesome shots of Sam, Bucky, and Sarah throwing a party with the neighbors to celebrate the fixing-up of the Wilson family boat, we’re given a short clip of Sharon receiving the pardon that Sam had promised her. However, we’ve also learned by now that Sharon is, in fact, the mysterious Power Broker – something Karli revealed to us shortly before she died. The mid-credits scene ends with Sharon on the phone, telling the person on the other end to line up potential buyers, as they’ll soon have access to US weapons, secrets, and much more. Will we ever see the havoc that Sharon is sure to wreak in the States? When will Sam and Bucky realize that Sharon isn’t all she’s made herself out to seem? And, most importantly, what would Aunt Peggy think?!
2. John Walker’s role as an agent
It’s safe to say that John Walker was not the most likable guy in this show. In fact, it was hard to find any redeeming qualities in him, especially after the abundance of bad decisions made on his part – and I use “bad” very lightly. I, for one, felt a wave of strong, negative emotions every time John Walker made a brash decision throughout the series, yet in the finale, he was able to corral some of the rage fueling him for a few moments in order to do the right thing. I think there was some significance in the scene where John tries to keep the bus full of senators from toppling over the edge of the scaffolding; we see that John has to drop his homemade shield in order to give the bus his full attention, and that says a lot given how attached he was to the real shield while he still had it. I’m naturally optimistic, so I’m hoping that this is the beginning of John’s future as a better person. Near the end of the episode, we see John reveal a new and improved suit (since the title of Captain America is now reserved for someone else, wink wink). Val says that “things are about to get weird” and that when they do, the world won’t need “a Captain America”, but “a U.S. agent.” What I’ve taken away from John’s character is that he wants to have an important job that makes him seem like a hero. Whether or not he actually chooses to be that hero is up to him, but based on his enthusiasm over his new, “official” title, I feel like Val will easily be able to manipulate him. What does Val mean when she says that things are about to get weird? What is she planning or what does she know? And what does she intend to use John Walker for?
3. Bucky as the Winter Soldier
The episode ends with a title screen reading “Captain America and the Winter Soldier”, which is an extremely important moment, as it signifies Sam finally stepping into the role of Captain America. It made me beyond excited to see, and actually made me tear up because it fully validates Sam’s new title, despite the pushback he might receive for doing so. It was also a bit emotional because, as many other Marvel fans probably noticed, it was a nod to the second Captain America movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Reprising this title only signifies the growth that both Sam and Bucky have experienced in the time between then and now, however, I wonder if Bucky will ever outgrow his title as the Winter Soldier? After Sam’s advice, Bucky finally tells Mr. Nakajima what he had done to his son as the Winter Soldier, and leaves the notebook of now-completed amends with his therapist. The healing process can be long and painful, but now that we’ve seen Bucky do some of the hardest parts, I’m hoping he can finally be free of the Winter Soldier – if not now, then sometime soon.
4. Zemo getting the last laugh
I loved the role that Zemo played in this series because in Captain America: Civil War, we’re shown a tiny bit of the depth that his character has. While Zemo was the villain in Civil War, his primary motivation stemmed from the loss of his family during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. In TFATWS, we got to see more of an expansion of his character, and he somehow went from being an antagonist to being pretty well-liked by fans of the show. There were times when it was difficult to remember that this was the same Zemo who had once manipulated Bucky’s Winter Soldier programming in an attempt to frame him for the murder of King T’Chacka. I’m a sucker for a well-rounded villain, one that you can love and hate, and Zemo’s character throughout the MCU definitely delivers. We get a fleeting glimpse of Zemo hearing the news about the fall of the Flag Smashers, and we see him smile, despite being condemned to a prison sentence that is likely to last the rest of his life. I wonder if Zemo will return in any future Marvel works – given how Bucky played a part in Zemo’s final arrest by the Dora Milaje, I don’t think he’ll be breaking him out of prison anytime soon, however, Zemo’s a smart guy; I wouldn’t be surprised if he happened to find his way out, if given the chance.
If I had to pick one thing that I love about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is really hard considering how many different things I love about it), it would be the fan base. Marvel fans don’t mess around when new content is released, and I’m amazed by all of the fan theories that get flooded across social media after a new show or movie premieres. It feels like we’re all detectives working a case, trying to piece all of the clues together! If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking about the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for quite some time. You’ll probably also miss the amazing chemistry between Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, and rewatch the show once or twice (or more) before the premiere of Loki on June 11th!