Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Bucky's therapist (Amy Aquino), and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) in The Falcon And The Winter Solider. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Following the season finale of Marvel and Disney Plus’ The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, we have to ask the question that is on everyone’s mind. What comes next for the characters, both heroes and villains, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes started the show with their own set of problems and while not all of those problems were solved, they’re on a long road to making their own lives better and uplifting those around them as well. Even those we saw as the villains of the series have varying degrees of potential to bounce back in later shows or movies.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the final episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, “One World, One People.” If you haven’t seen the final episode, read at your own risk.

Sam Wilson, Captain America

From the Falcon to Captain America, Sam’s journey throughout this series shows the biggest change. It acknowledges the past but also looks to build the future. At the beginning of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Sam acknowledged that the world needs new symbols and icons.

Despite donning the mantle of Captain America, Sam still believes in that sentiment and he’ll prove that by being a new type of Captain America. Even in the comics, Sam was open about the fact that he’s not Steve Rogers and he would do things differently.

Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) In "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier"
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

But his role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes even further than that. With both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark gone, fans have been wondering who will bring together the next age of superheroes. After seeing the worst threats the galaxy has to offer in the Infinity Saga and now seeing how a young person who wants to do right can go so wrong with Karli Morgenthau and the Flag-Smashers, Sam is perfectly positioned to introduce the Young Avengers.

We’ve only just stepped into Phase 4 of the MCU, but already between WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier we’ve gotten glimpses of several members who could join that team. Elijah Bradley, the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, is Patriot in Marvel Comics. Tommy and Billy, Wanda’s children, are Speed and Wiccan. Sam left his old wings in the care of Joaquin Torres, who dons the mantle of the Falcon in the comics as well.

We also know that Ms. Marvel, Iron Heart, America Chavez and Kate Bishop will all be joining the MCU soon. Sam Wilson as Captain America is the best choice to bring all these young heroes together for whatever fight is coming next.

Bucky Barnes, Winter Soldier

Just like Sam Wilson, Bucky has come so far since the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. From waking up on the hardwood floor of his apartment after having nightmares of his past deeds to waking up on Sam’s couch smiling as the Wilson boys played with the red, white, and blue shield. Bucky has managed to finally shed the HYDRA programming and begin to trust himself again.

Falcon and Winter Soldier
Photo by Chuck Zlotnick Marvel Studios

In the Marvel comic books, The Winter Soldier is never too far from the side of Captain America and I expect that to continue for the MCU Bucky Barnes and Captain America. The bond that Sam and Bucky have built over the course of this show is undeniable and in the final episode, once all the smoke has cleared you can see how important he is to Sam, his family, and their community.

Plus, if the fandom has any say in it, there may be some sparks between Bucky and Sarah Wilson.

John Walker, US Agent

Despite the actions John Walker took on the eve of becoming a super soldier, it seems as though he’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to stay. Whether or not he deserves a shot at redemption, he showed in the finale that somewhere deep inside there’s some fraction of him that does want to do the right thing, however misguided he may be.

Photo by Julie Vrabelova Marvel Studios 2021
Photo by Julie Vrabelova Marvel Studios 2021

The real question for John Walker is if he’ll repeat the same mistakes that put him in this position, to begin with. At his final hearing when he was stripped of his position and the mantle of Captain America he definitely stated to the congressman, “I only ever did what you asked of me, what you told me to be and trained me to do.”

Now, under the guidance of Contessa Valentina de la Fontaine, who in the comics is better known as Madame Hydra, could he be setting himself up for the same mistakes he made working for the US Government?

Sharon Carter, The Power Broker

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for some fans, was the reveal that Sharon Carter was actually the power broker. She was the one responsible for giving Karli Morgenthau and the rest of the Flag-Smashers the Super Soldier Serum. In the finale, she and Karli share a tense stand-off where Carter claims she did it so that she could give Karli the tools to make a difference. But Karli stands by her beliefs that Carter just wanted them for muscle.

It seems like a big turn for Sharon to become a potential villain knowing how much she looked up to her great aunt, Peggy Carter, one who helped found SHIELD. Sharon does help the heroes in the end and receives a pardon, but the post-credit scene also shows her taking a phone call and talking about how much more they have at their disposal.

Falcon and Winter Soldier
Photo by Eli Ade/Marvel Studios

My biggest theory on what comes next for Sharon is maybe the craziest, but it will also have the biggest ramifications. One of the Disney Plus and Marvel shows coming in the next few years is Secret Invasion led by Samual L Jackon’s Nick Fury. It’s possible that the sudden change in Sharon over the past years and her interest in powers and tech is because she’s actually a Skrull in disguise. Of course, we won’t know for sure until Secret Invasion gets closer.

One thing is for certain, Marvel Phase 4 has kicked off with a big bang between WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But it’s only the beginning, Loki and Hawkeye are still due out this year along with Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Eternals, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

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Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios