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Falcon and Winter Soldier: John Walker Is Not The Real Villain, But Who Is?

WARNING: SPOILERS for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4, “The Whole World is Watching.”

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is almost at the end of its run. In the coming two weeks, the show will conclude its run on Disney+. The latest episode, “The Whole World is Watching” showed us how painful Bucky’s time as the Winter Soldier really was. He broke down in tears at the realization that he can’t be manipulated to become the Winter Soldier anymore. But that was not it. Something really controversial happened almost at the end of Episode 4.

John Walker lost his cool and ended up killing a Flag-Smasher named Nico. He was driven by his emotions and did something that Captain America would never do. This made The Falcon and the Winter Soldier one of the most thought-provoking projects by Marvel as of yet. John Walker is easy to hate — but he’s easy to sympathize with too, given his situation. He has taken the super-soldier serum. Hence, he is much more powerful than he ever was.

Walker is largely a soldier who wants to do the right thing, but he is also traumatized, competitive to a fault, and overly aggressive. Now that he has taken the serum, these personality traits could have been amplified. It has come to a point where people think that he could be the real villain. But something doesn’t seem right with that notion. Walker has been increasingly desperate in his attempt to catch up with the Flag-Smashers. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s episode 4 ends with Walker standing over Nico’s body, surrounded by horrified onlookers. He has undoubtedly stained his career as Captain America with such a public display of brutality on foreign soil.

One can easily believe that Walker became Captain America under toxic circumstances. His new role as the face of the American military was undermined before it even began. As an outsider, he was not privy to the circumstances by which Sam Wilson received, then returned, Captain America’s shield. He always wanted to work with Sam and Bucky. Even in the recent TV spot trailer, we can hear him saying, “We could have worked together.” But this is not going to happen now. Sam and Bucky are both terrified by what Walker did and are persistent to take the shield back.

Walker is clearly too vulnerable to be the next Captain America. In all of reality, he is just a mediator between Sam and the shield. If he had not committed the murder, and that too publicly, Sam would have never been provoked to go after the shield. He definitely has some issues going in within. His demeanor and conversations with Battlestar hint that he is suffering from some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a very common condition for military people as they have to face extreme conditions and witness death almost everyday.

In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we can see even Bucky going through therapy sessions to help him deal with the past more effectively. Even Sam is seen thinking about being a PTSD veteran for military men. Coming back to Walker, it is unclear if there was any screening done before giving him the powers of Captain America. Maybe this was the reason why Walker was never given the super-soldier serum, and he took it by himself. He was thus already because of his past experiences, was thrust into a highly public role, assigned a highly politicized case on foreign soil, and sent to face Super Soldiers with little-to-no oversight.

Sam and Bucky have experience living the “hero” life that involves being a public figure, not to mention working under the pressure of extremely high stakes. John Walker doesn’t understand what being Captain America really means in that sense — and by the end of episode 4, the pressure has clearly gotten the better of him. Given his general arrogance (and privilege), it’s just as likely that he never stopped to think about how people like Sam and Bucky would react to his actions.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier at this moment have many potential villains, namely Zemo, Flag-Smashers, Power-Broker, and perhaps certain government officials could be bad too. Zemo was working with Bucky and Sam till now, but he’ll certainly pursue his own angle of achieving a world with no superheroes. The show could also introduce the Power Broker very soon. It is still to be seen where the Flag-Smashers will end by the end of the series.

It will definitely be interesting to see where the show leads to, and who is be the real big bad of the show. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is currently streaming on Disney+. Here’s the official synopsis:

Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience—in Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.”

Directed by Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, Daniel Brühl as Baron Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Wyatt Russell as John Walker, Desmond Chiam, Miki Ishikawa, Noah Mills, and Carl Lumbly.

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