While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been lauded for drawing inspiration from decades of Marvel Comics, yet still blazing its own trail that keeps the films (and now shows) fresh and unpredictable, the The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season finale delivered a surprisingly comics-accurate moment for its most controversial and morally ambiguous characters: Wyatt Russell’s John Walker. If you walked away from the finale confused about whether he’s a hero or a villain now, don’t feel bad. That’s how you’re supposed to feel about John Walker, especially now that he’s assumed his more well-known persona from the comics who’s been a divisive character from the minute he first appeared on the page.
Who is U.S. Agent?
In the final moments of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (call her “Val”) gifts Walker a new outfit that looks exactly like his old Captain America suit except its black. She then dubs him “U.S. Agent,” and literally everything about this character change is pulled straight from the comics. In the ’80s, John Walker was introduced as the new Steve Rogers after Captain America retired over the questionable patriotic zeal of the Reagan years. Walker, on the other hand, was an ultra-conservative, hardline Christian who was very eager to do the government’s bidding as the new Cap. However, things went south as it became evident that the Red Skull was manipulating Walker and the U.S. government, which prompted Steve Rogers to return and set things right. Despite being a seemingly gun-crazy killer, Walker helped Steve take down the Red Skull and returned the Captain America mantle to its rightful owner. Walker then took on the name U.S. Agent and donned a black suit similar to Steve’s.
As U.S. Agent, Walker is mostly a hero and has worked with several teams including leading The Avengers at one point. But he continued to operate in a morally grey area, and built a reputation as a cocky, obnoxious a**hole, which seems to be the direction the MCU is taking Russell’s interpretation of the character. In the finale, there is definitely some question marks around whether he’s really good or bad, and he seems to be concernedly pumped about working for Dreyfus’ Val. Let’s not forget that Russell’s version of Walker killed an unarmed man in cold blood after recklessly injecting himself with super-soldier serum. The guy is still very unstable, and that can present problems down the line.
What happens to U.S. Agent next in the MCU?
Now, we’re in fan theory country. Here’s what we know: After the events of Endgame, The Avengers appear to be disbanded. In the five years between The Snap and The Blip, Black Widow and Steve Rogers were running the team. They’re both off the table along with Iron Man, who sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos. As for Thor, he jetted off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. So that leaves the Earth without an Avengers team, and it’d be a solid bet that someone is going to step in and fill that vacuum. Judging by Val being positioned as a more pragmatic (and possibly evil) version of Nick Fury, it seems like Dreyfus’ character is putting something together.
There’s also the matter of Zemo, who’s now being held at The Raft, the super prison under the purview of William Hurt’s General Ross. In the comics, Ross forms his own team of seemingly reformed villains called the Thunderbolts that was led by, you guessed it, Zemo. Could Val be helping to put together an MCU version of the Thunderbolts that includes U.S. Agent? Maybe. Could she be forming an entirely different team with Walker that doesn’t have the same moral compunction as The Avengers? Also, maybe.
What is known for certain is that wherever he shows up next, U.S. Agent’s methods will be problematic, morally ambiguous, and frankly, a true representation of modern-day America as John Walker unflinchingly uses deadly force on whoever’s in his way.