The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s third episode continued the now three-week-long tradition of revealing major characters in the closing frames of the episode—week 1 introducing us to a jerkface Captain America, John Walker, week 2 revealing notable Captain America villain Zemo, and, now, before episode 3 closed, Ayo of Wakanda, who, possibly sent by Okoye, confronts Bucky in Latvia.
Up until that moment, episode 3 had already barraged audiences with a Sokovia-destroying amount of exposition fire power, including insights into the American government’s experiments on Isaiah Bradley, the “Power Broker,” who may or may not be Sharon Carter—also, Sharon Carter, and where she’s been—and the motives of the evil “Flag Smashers,” whose villainous plan appears to be simply repatriating orphan refugees. How evil.
But maybe the most notable development was Ayo’s appearance during the episode’s final scene. Ayo (played by Florence Kasumba) was last seen battling Thanos’ forces during the Battle of Wakanda. Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite female bodyguard unit led by Okoye, had likely come to Latvia for Zemo. The Sokovian Baron was responsible for the assassination of King T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. At the end of that film, T’Challa, who had vowed revenge throughout his hunt for Zemo (whom he realized was responsible and not the framed Bucky), decided against retribution and stopped Zemo from killing himself; Zemo went to prison. Wakanda, apparently, was satisfied.
Since Bucky and Falcon have now broken Zemo free from his obviously non-maximum-security facility in Germany, Wakanda may have changed their Zemo Policy.
Here’s what we know about Ayo, Okoye, and Wakanda’s role in The Falcon and the Winter Solider.
Who is Ayo?
The second in command of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, Ayo is one of Wakanda’s most elite warriors. Ayo was King T’Chaka’s protection in Vienna for the Sokovia Accords. She was with him when Zemo, in an honestly impressive Bucky disguise, assassinated the Wakanda leader.
Thus far throughout the Marvel films, Ayo hasn’t played a large role. She’s been mostly side muscle. Still, she’s one of the franchise’s more conflicted characters, having been forced to serve Killmonger and form allegiance with Bucky after the Winter Soldier was de-zombified in Wakanda. Maybe allying with Zemo will prove to be the last straw.
Ayo’s role in the Marvel comics is also small, appearing in just one issue. In that issue, however, Ayo actually renounces the Dora Milaje. Perhaps what we’re seeing in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a rogue element of Wakanda’s leadership.
Is Bucky working for Ayo and Okoye?
Bucky’s relationship with Wakanda is more than just a friendly coexistence. Bucky tells Dr. Raynor that his time in Wakanda provided some of his only respite from combat. He also corrects Falcon’s “White Panther” joke, responding that he was actually called “White Wolf.”
Most of Bucky’s time in Wakanda, in fact, remains unknown to audiences, as well as the Avengers. It’s possible that he has a yet-unrevealed agreement with Wakanda, and, in particular, Okoye’s Dora Milaje. He seems to have been expecting Ayo to turn up; she even left metal breadcrumbs. Ayo may not be Bucky’s handler, but it’s not unreasonable to assume he’s been operating for her and Okoye in some capacity. The White Wolf may be the new Winter Soldier.
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