If any Marvel Cinematic Universe fan felt skeptical about whether introducing Phase Four on the small screen would go well, WandaVision dashed any fears by midseason. Not only did this show prove to be the weirdest entry of the MCU so far, but Disney+ kept executing successful cliffhangers that delivered seamlessly into the next episode, and then Kevin Feige did the thing, y’all. With one deft maneuver (recasting Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Pietro with Evan Peters), he not only swapped out Quicksilver(s) but also handily fused the MCU and Fox superhero universes, and the audience wholeheartedly respected this solitary chess move that looked toward the future. Now, we’re staring down a finale and Scarlet Witch joining Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The implications of these developments are vast already. Disney+ and Marvel Studios can now pull mutants into the game, and who knows, we might even see Deadpool shimmy into the party (with F-bombs) sooner than expected. It’s mind-boggling, how casually this is all going down (after the arguably overwrought, 23-film long Infinity Saga), and yes, this early 2021 rollercoaster is not over yet. Loki will arrive in June, and before March ends, we’ll be seeing the premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As with WandaVision, we’ve got a wishlist, so let’s get down to business.
1. The Begrudging Buddy-Comedy Chemistry We Were Promised: The rivalry between Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson/Falcon ignited during Captain America: Winter Soldier, despite Bucky being under mind control. Sam and Steve Rogers founded their military-based friendship and teamed up against Bucky, even though Bucky wasn’t himself, and after Bucky began to break free of his HYDRA mind-shackles, his “until the end of the line” best friend had found a new best buddy. It’s no wonder that these two never liked each other, and this suggestion became explicit with Sam refusing to give back-seat Bucky any legroom in Captain America: Civil War.
Granted, this animosity took a (more figurative) back seat until the final moments of Avengers: Endgame when Steve passed the shield to Sam. Bucky signaled his acquiescence to this decision with a slight nod, but you know that had to string, knowing that Steve entrusted Sam with the position’s honor. Now that they’re living in a post-Steve Rogers world, these two don’t even have to pretend to be nice to each other, but there’s every indication that they’ll work together, whether by choice or by necessity. Don’t expect them to entirely play nice, though. Expect one-liners and grumpiness, and it should be a real blast for viewers while the MCU shifts back into full-on action mode.
2. Sharon Carter Kicking Ass And Being A Huge Part Of This Fine Mess: I didn’t expect to see Agent 13 back again, and without the official agent title, but here we are. She showed up in the show’s Super Bowl trailer around the 1:00 mark, all exasperated-sounding with both Bucky and Sam, before kicking bad-guy booty.
Heck yeah. It’s she who previously became Steve Rogers’ love interest, even making out with him in front of Sam and Bucky in Civil War. Yes, it’s fantastic to have her back and wonder where she’s been hanging for years. It sounds like she’s been in the wind, so to speak, and probably a fugitive from the law, but one must also imagine that things are incredibly awkward these days for Sharon. The last time we saw much of her, she was kissing Steve, and at the end of Endgame, he decided to travel back in time to be with his one true love, Peggy Carter… who happens to be Sharon’s aunt. Hopefully, this will be verbally addressed, at least in passing, but otherwise, yeah, Sharon did not look too impressed to see Sam and Bucky as their stories pick up after Avengers: Endgame.
The dudes will spend a good chunk of the season taking down Baron Helmut Zemo (the big bad portrayed by Daniel Brühl in Captain America: Civil War), but what of Sharon’s place on this show? Marvel Studios has not confirmed where she’s been or what she’s doing now, but this is definitely the first time we’ve seen her in several years, and oh boy, is she showing no mercy. There’d better be a lot of Sharon, or I will rage. I guess The Falcon and Winter Soldier and Sharon Freaking Carter was too windy of a show title, but I’m still here for it, at least thematically. Social media will say that, too.
3. Install A New Captain America: Now we’re cooking. There’s a lot to say about this question (and I plan to say more next week), but one of the more pressing questions for the MCU’s Phase Four is this: who gets to be the new Captain America?
What a loaded inquiry. Obviously, Steve chose to hand the shield to Sam Wilson/Falcon at the end of Avengers: Endgame, but in the comics, both Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier and Sam took up the shield at various points. So, there’s bound to be a little animosity over the official Steve selection, even if, outwardly, Bucky continues to let the slight slide. He did look a little sad at the end of Endgame, and there are certainly arguments to be made about Bucky’s mental state being too fragile to officially take up the Cap mantle, but we’re being mercilessly teased (and expect no less). In the aforementioned Super Bowl trailer at around 0:45, Disney+ follows up a peek at Steve Rogers’ memorial with Sam and Bucky apparently training with the shield.
This tells us very little except that it’s not set in stone that Sam Wilson will be the MCU’s next Captain America. In fact, since Bucky’s catching the darn thing, that might suggest that he’s the one who ultimately ends up doing the honors. We don’t know if they’re competing for the shield or practicing or attempting to destroy it. Any of those options are possible! Yet from the way that Bucky catches that hunk of vibranium, I can’t help but think of a certain moment in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when a then-unidentified Bucky momentarily snagged the shield from Steve. This was a dramatic moment that many saw as foreshadowing before the MCU relegated Bucky into the background.
Several movies later, Bucky arguably got the final shaft (from Steve), but still, Anthony Mackie recently threw out signals that Bucky may very well have a shot at wielding that shield; yep, and Mackie recently got very cryptic while pointing out to Collider that Sam never actually agreed to be the new Cap:
“We don’t know that yet. The show, the idea of the show is basically, you know, and at the end of Endgame, Cap decided he was going into retirement and he asked me if I would take up the shield, but at no point in time did I agree to or say that I would be Captain America. So, the show walks the line of who is going to take up the shield and who’s going to be Captain America if Steve isn’t coming back.”
Anthony Mackie’s being such a rascal here, and I love it. It would actually be quite funny if we found out that Sam didn’t wanna be Cap but didn’t want to hurt Steve’s feelings by saying it out loud to the smug-sounding older Cap. In any event, get ready for some mega-drama with the shield, y’all. I can’t wait.
Disney+’s ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ will premiere on March 19.