Marvel Studios/Marvel Comics
With roots in the wildly-deep Captain America lore (dating all the way back to Captain America Comics #1, released in March 1941), well, there was a lot of material for Disney+’s exciting new 6-part limited series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to pull from. The show follows Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, two long-time (well, one a bit longer than the other) friends of Captain America who, now, after the events of Avengers: Endgame, get their first opportunity to shine in the spotlight. You’ve seen stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan (who respectively play the titular heroes) before, but you should know that they are just a couple of the casting choices in the series who are perfect picks for their comic counterparts.
Another example is Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), the Machiavellian Captain America: Civil War villain who will be returning for another round of sinister scheming in the series. Fans of the comics never got to see Zemo sport his signature purple mask in Civil War, but they sure will here. That’s just one example of the way the show is covering comics ground, which also includes the introduction of John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a “New Captain America” who in the comics is almost like a cross between The Punisher, Homelander from The Boys, and Bizarro from Superman (an entirely different universe, yes, we know).
There’s a lot! It’s a great cast, and the characters seem to be fleshed out as well as ever. Below, we’ve pulled together a few of the most prominent ones, and put them right up next to their comic counterparts.
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Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie)
You’ve seen this guy a time or two before (and not only in Marvel movies, either). But The Falcon and the Winter Soldier marks a key moment for Mr. Mackie: not only is it his first time playing the lead after six supporting turns, but he’s potentially taking the mantle from one of the franchise’s most-loved characters. The heat is on.
Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)
Stan has Mackie’s six supporting MCU turns topped, with seven of his own. And while he was at the center of the plot in both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, this series will mark the first time Bucky takes center stage. And not only will it mark the first time Stan takes a leading role in the MCU, but it’s also, kind of…the first time he’s had lines in a significant way since Captain America: The First Avenger back in 2011? Don’t get us wrong, Stan crushed his role as the brainwashed Winter Soldier, but he often did a lot of slow speaking and facial acting. Only in the much later movies did his character really break through the brainwashing, and much of Falcon and Winter Soldier‘s story looks at Bucky’s attempt to reacclimate to society. And, yeah, we said it before, but Sebastian Stan: good actor.
Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl)
Perhaps the MCU’s most successful villain was Hemut Zemo in Civil War, who accomplished about 99% of what he set out to do: tearing the Avengers apart from the inside after they were responsible for his family’s death in Sokovia. His only hiccup was getting caught by T’Challa at the end of the movie. And while we don’t know what happened to him between Civil War and whatever is happening with him in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we can be sure of this: he’s now sporting the very badass, pretty scary, and extremely comic-accurate purple face mask. This guy is aiming for some big evil.
Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)
Another character we’ve seen a few times before (in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and for just a flash on the screen in Avengers: Endgame), Sharon Carter, as played by Revenge star Emily VanCamp, is pretty damn accurate to the comics. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it would seem that Sharon is on the run, as she helped Steve, Sam, and Bucky escape in Civil War. One other thing: not that we expect this to happen, but in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ current run of Captain America comics, Sharon Carter becomes Iron Patriot (the moniker briefly taken up by James Rhodes in Iron Man 3). Just an idea for some point down the road, you know?
James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle)
Speak of the devil! You’ve seen this guy a time or two (or, well, seven times as Mr. Cheadle and once as Terrance Howard) before in the MCU. Rhodes’ probably won’t have a super huge role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but we know he’s there to help keep things grounded in the MCU, and always have a way to link things back if/when the writers and producers want to go there. The future film slate is unclear, but we do know that Cheadle will once again play Rhodes in the upcoming Disney+ series Armor Wars.
John Walker/U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell)
Walker is probably going to be the lynchpin of the entire Falcon and Winter Soldier series. The character has a history of taking over as Captain America in the comics, though clearly Steve’s intention was for Sam to step into his shoes. Drama! Walker in the comics is somewhere between a villain and an anti-hero, a brute who thinks he’s doing the right thing, and rarely is—and is also kind of a government bootlicker.
You may not recognize the actor playing Walker—Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn—at first, but check him out online; he’s clean shaven here, but when he’s sporting his usual thick beard, he’s been in a number of great movies like 22 Jump Street, Everybody Wants Some, and the underrated Ingrid Goes West. Savvy TV watchers may have also caught him in a chilling Black Mirror episode (“Playtest”) or the underrated Lodge 49.
Batroc (Georges St-Pierre)
Batroc—played in the MCU by MMA legend Georges St-Pierre—isn’t exactly the most memorable character in the movies. His only appearance so far is in an early raid/fight scene, where he actually gives Captain America (Chris Evans) his money’s worth, denting his shield with a big kick in a wonderfully choreographed fight. But maybe that’s why Batroc was brought back for more of the same—pirating—in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There’s more to come for this baddie.
Karli Morgenthau/Flag-Smasher (Erin Kellyman)
This villain will take on a new form in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as a member (and potential leader) of an underground terrorist group that does most of its work online; Sam Wilson/Falcon and his intelligence contacts are closely following the case. The MCU version of the character will be named Karli Morgenthau (the comic name was shared by two male identities) and will be played by Erin Kellyman, who audiences probably remember from Solo (2018).
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