Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 4 ‘The Whole World Is Watching’ of Marvel’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Read at your discretion.
It has finally happened, as we all knew it eventually would. John Walker, the new government-appointed Captain America broke. It was an inevitable plot point that everyone saw coming the moment that faceless politician made his speech and Walker stood with a vibranium shield that wasn’t meant for him and waved to America.
“Not my Captain America,” most of us typed on our online as we knew it was headed for disaster. But, here’s the cold hard truth, John Walker is absolutely our Captain America.
The Cap We Deserve
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hasn’t shied away from showing us the ugliness of our past, the ugliness of America. From the Shield being passed on to a white man over a Black hero, or learning that Sharon Carter was ostracized from her home for helping the heroes who saved the world, despite them being pardoned. To the revelations of Isaiah Bradley, the first Black Captain America, being imprisoned, tortured, and then erased from the pages of history.
The truth is, we don’t need this show to point out the flaws of our country and our society. We need only look at the past four years in the short term, or any number of decades for the long term. John Walker represents all of it and even if we didn’t have the pages of Marvel comics to tell us that he’d eventually reveal himself to be a bad guy, the signs were there all along.
This Is America
John Walker is an American hero, a decorated war vet, has a charming (if a bit disarming) smile, and even made a few strides to try and work with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. So where did it all go wrong? How was it that the signs were there all along?
When Sam and Bucky first meet John, he’s inserted himself into their fight based on his own judgment (which to be fair, is something the Avengers have done countless times). His attempts to ‘join forces’ with Sam and Bucky in episode two come across less as wanting to be allies and more as though they know better.
When Sam asks how they tracked the Flag-Smashers, Hoskins admits they didn’t, they tracked Red Wing. Sam accuses them of hacking his tech and Walker points out it is government property (he’s not wrong) and then references himself as the government. Walker doesn’t want to work with Sam and Bucky, he wants them to work for him.
If you’re on the fence as to whether that’s true or not, look no further than later in the episode when John Walker has Bucky released from police custody. Walker says to John when referring to Bucky, “he’s too valuable of an asset to have tied up so just do whatever you got to do with him and then have him sent off to me.” Everyone remembers the last person and their affiliation who refers to Bucky as an asset, yes?
Over the next couple of episodes, John Walker gets worse as it becomes apparent he doesn’t have what it takes to carry out his mission and stop the Flag-Smashers. The pressure begins to mount and we even start to see him question his partner Lemar Hoskins. In Episode 4 when Sam wants to talk to Karli Morgenthau by himself to bring her in peacefully, Lemar backs up Sam. Walker points directly at him stating, “we’ll deal with you later.” It’s not the first time Lemar questions Walker’s methods.
Flying His True Colors
In Episode 4, a lot goes wrong for John Walker and he ends up with the last remaining vial of Super Soldier Serum. We get a few scenes that are supposed to represent the character’s struggle with whether or not he takes the serum and imbues himself with superhuman strength. But if we’re being honest there was no struggle, just inevitability.
The choice was made when the Dora Milaje entered the room with Walker, Hoskins, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo. They are there to take Zemo and when Walker, as confident and ignorant as always, attempts to control the situation a fight breaks out. One that Walker, Hoskins, and even Sam and Bucky lose. In the end, Walker laments, “they weren’t even super soldiers.”
America has taught its men time and time again, that you do not lose. If you do, it can’t possibly be your fault, the other side was somehow cheating. So, imagine what it meant to John Walker, super patriot, and Captain America, that he was beaten by a group of women who weren’t even super soldiers. Of course, he was going to take the serum, even before his partner unknowingly gave him the consent he was looking for.
In the next battle with Karli and the Flag-Smashers, Lemar Hoskins is killed by Karli. As she makes her escape, John Walker chases down one of the other Flag-Smashers in a Latvian town square and proceeds to brutally murder him as a crowd looks on. The final shot we see is Captain America standing tall with half of his shield covered in blood.
The world saw Captain America murder someone who had given up, shouting, “It wasn’t me!” If you fail to see the similarities with what’s happening in our world, right now, John Walker truly is your Captain America.
Marvel’s The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is directed by Kari Skogland. New episodes premiere every Friday on Disney Plus. It stars Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russel, Erin Kellyman, and Emily Vancamp.
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Feature Image Photo by Julie Vrabelova Marvel Studios 2021