SPOILER ALERT: This story has details about Episode 2 of Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
After learning more about U.S. Agent John Walker last Friday on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we saw that he’s a good-hearted All-American hero, who was experiencing similar doubts about filling the boots of Captain America, just like Sam Wilson weighed. In that first scene with his g.f. in his old high school locker room, Walker contemplates a ‘Why me?’ attitude about picking up the shield. He knows it’s heavy, but at the end of the day, he knows he’s got a job to do.
Such a softy should be easy for Wilson to topple over, especially when it comes to getting the shield.
Not so fast, according to Wyatt Russell who plays Walker.
We asked Russell how easy it would be for Walker to give up the shield, to which he responded, maintaining suspense, “How do you know he gives up the shield?”
With Walker’s full arrival on the series, studied Marvel fans have a lot of assumptions about the former high school football champ and counterterrorism pro. And some of those assumptions are confirmed by the shade that Bucky and Sam throw Walker’s way. As the duo expressed at the end of last Friday’s show, Walker is a guy who plays by the rules and government protocols. Falcon and Winter Soldier don’t do that. Hence, there’s no reason for the series title superheroes to team up with Walker and Battlestar.
Read about Walker, and you learn about some heavy stuff. He’s reportedly Christian-right according to Marvel lore. Walker idolized his older brother Mike, who was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. Mike had PTSD, nearly burned down the house one night while drunk and ultimately took his own life. Apparently, Walker’s drive in life stemmed from trying to honor his fallen brother.
Dive deeper into Walker, and you begin to assume future storylines interconnecting Falcon and the Winter Soldier with WandaVision and even Loki. Specifically, Walker was a friend of Scarlet Witch’s with the two serving on the superhero team Force Works. At one point she even dupes him, but it’s really Loki posing as her. At one point down the road, Walker, as a team member of Doctor Doom’s Avengers, even fights an evil version of Scarlet Witch.
However, according to Russell, throw out what you know about John Walker.
Says the actor about preparing for the part, “As soon as you open Wikipedia, you’re more confused. There’s so many iterations of where he is and goes, and who he’s with, it’s just too confusing. I looked at a lot of the artwork of the comic books and that informed me more of who the character will be, the essence of the character in the artwork and in his body language. I looked at a lot of photos, but I didn’t read any comics, there’s too many different storylines.”
“What the MCU does very well — they don’t literally take everything from the comics and put it into characters,” says Russell, “Sometimes they do a better job of making them more complex.”
And complex is definitely what Walker is. By the end of episode one when he appears, he’s the smug square jaw of a Dick Tracy villain. But by episode 2, really, who wouldn’t love John Walker? He comes easily to the aid of Bucky and Sam in a fight atop two 18-wheelers in Munich against the Flagsmashers. He springs Bucky from jail. But after Falcon and Winter Soldier refuse to work with Walker, the latter’s direction to them is “Stay the hell out of my way.”
But the joy of playing the character for Russell is in his unpredictability to the audience.
Says the actor, whose dad Kurt plays Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, ““There is a dichotomy to him, there is complexity in his mind, in terms of what his past was and what and how it effects his presence.”
“That’s part of what drew me to him is the ability to be able to play someone who on the surface you might think you know what they are or what they’re like, but when you dig down a little bit deeper you might find that they’re doing things for reasons that are unknown to you before they were given to you.”