Just over a week ago, Marvel delighted its fanbase by releasing a clutch of new trailers—including one for upcoming Disney+ show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles as the eponymous superheroes, Sam Wilson and James “Bucky” Barnes. Predictably, said fanbase has been buzzing with theories ever since. Many of these, as usual, involve easter eggs and references spotted by eagle-eyed viewers and comic book aficionados. This allows us to make some fairly educated guesses, even as much of the story remains ripe for speculation.
Of course, with a fictional universe as popular and richly layered as Marvel’s, the clues and speculation are all part of the fun. So with that in mind, here are a few of the best (but not necessarily the most likely) predictions and theories.
1. Zemo Will Be A Major Inconvenience (At Best)
One plot point that hasn’t been kept quiet is the return of Captain America: Civil War villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl). There’s no love lost between him and Bucky, with Zemo at one point using some horrifyingly symbolic trigger words to send the former brainwashed assassin on an unwilling murder spree (among other things). Now, sporting his signature purple mask from the comics, he’s apparently on a mission to exterminate superheroes, making him likely to be a key antagonist. However, the trailer seems to show Zemo, Bucky and Sam working together, suggesting a ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ arrangement in order to stop an even greater threat. And since Tom Holland isn’t around to spill any secrets, only time will tell who that is…
2. Sam’s Got 99 Problems, and the Government-Mandated Captain America Will Definitely Be One
What with Sam helping Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) break a lot of laws in Civil War (as well as, to put it bluntly, doing so while being Black), it’s hard to imagine the U.S. government accepting Steve’s decision to bequeath his shield to the Falcon in Avengers: Endgame. Which is probably why Russell Wyatt has been confirmed to be playing John Walker, a.k.a. a (very, very white) war veteran picked by the authorities to become Captain America after Steve’s retirement. In the comics Walker starts off as a villain, and remains a polarising figure even after switching sides. It’s possible that his MCU incarnation could go the opposite way, from supposed hero to villain, and it’s almost certain that as a rival Captain America, he’ll be making trouble for Sam and Bucky one way or another.
3. Sharon Carter Will Be a Key Ally
Another key takeaway from the trailer is that Emily VanCamp will be reprising her role as Sharon Carter. This will no doubt be to the relief of fans, some of whom (thanks to Avengers: Endgame’s bewildering time travel rules) feared that Steve’s one-time love interest would have been ‘ret-gonned’ out of existence, after he went back in time to settle down with her great-aunt (as you do). The trailer shows Sharon pointing a gun at a surprised-looking Sam and Bucky, suggesting at least a few hard feelings after she apparently became a wanted fugitive for helping them and the rest of Team Cap in Civil War. Still, Sharon takes after her Aunt Peggy (Hayley Atwell) in all the best ways, so it’s not hard to imagine the three becoming fire-forged friends.
4. It’s Just Me and You, And You and Me, Just Us—And Your Friend, Steve
With Sam and Bucky portrayed as a buddy-cop Odd Couple in the trailer, it seems extremely likely that the show will see them trying to re-contextualise their sort-of friendship without Steve-the-kid-from-Brooklyn, even as Sam struggles to fill the empty space left by Captain-America-the-world-famous-superhero. As he says in an earlier trailer, “The legacy of that shield is… complicated.” Not to mention, the fact that the government has hand-picked their own Captain America suggests that the whole world feels decidedly lost without the Star-Spangled Man-With-A-Plan to boost their morale. Mackie, however, has been tantalisingly cryptic about whether Sam really will become the next Captain America, so we’ll probably have to wait until the show’s finale to see what he decides.
But of course, with a few weeks still to go until the show debuts, we’ve still got time to argue over those theories for which there’s little conclusive evidence, but which would undoubtedly be excellent directions in which to take the series.
Turn over the page to see our suggestions…