How The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Can Reveal the X-Men

The first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier makes its debut on Disney+ today, illuminating another new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the biggest draw of the series has been the ongoing adventures of Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), the globe-trotting nature of the entire series has also been enticing as well. Fans have been curious to see which new locations or portions of the MCU will be introduced by the series — and based on long-running theories and speculation, there's a chance that some of them could potentially lead to the debut of the X-Men.

To an extent, basically every MCU property in "Phase 4" is going to find a way to fuel speculation surrounding the X-Men's debut, following Disney's high-profile purchase of 20th Century Fox and the Marvel characters that previously fell under its umbrella. And while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier might be an unconventional choice for the introduction of one of Marvel Comics' biggest ensembles, that only makes the possibility of it happening even more intriguing. We already know that the series is going to shine a light on previously unseen aspects of the MCU's history, with rumors suggesting that Carl Lumbly has been cast in the series as Isaiah Bradley, the first Black man to take on the mantle of Captain America. In the comics, Bradley was one of 300 African-American soldiers who were injected with the USA's replication of the super-soldier serum used on Steve Rogers, a program that echoes the debut of John Walker/US Agent (Wyatt Russell) in the present-day. Depending on how the series covers the competition to recreate the super-soldier program, it doesn't seem impossible that we could get a reference to Canada's Weapon X program — which is traditionally tied to the origin of iconic X-Men member Wolverine.

Outside of that, the series' first trailer also got to see Sam and Bucky visit a cyberpunk-like island city — and while it wasn't named explicitly, rumors have suggested that it could be Madripoor, one of the cities most heavily associated with the X-Men in the comics. Created by Chris Claremont and Steve Leialoha, Madipoor is established in the comics as a Southeast Asian island anchored by its major city. Divided into the extremely rich society of "Hightown" and the very poor society of "Lowtown", the island has been at the center of some major Marvel Comics arcs, and has been ruled by the likes of Madame Hydra, Daken, and Mystique at various points in time. If Sam and Bucky are really visiting Madripoor, the series could very well hint at any of those characters ruling the city, or some other ties to mutantdom.

There also would be the thematic significance of teasing the X-Men in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — a series that, for all intents and purposes, seems to be dealing with disenfranchised people reclaiming their power from oppressive and manipulating forces. Even if the series' references to the X-Men were small in the scope of the series (and let's be honest, they probably will be), the idea of laying the groundwork for arguably the most ostracized and "othered" group in Marvel Comics history feels fitting.

Granted, none of these threads mean that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will definitively introduce the X-Men or other mutant characters into the MCU — and whether or not they do will have no bearing on the series' quality (lest we have a repeat of the past few months of WandaVision discourse). Still, the framework is definitely there for the series to potentially do so, all while weaving a tale uniquely its own.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ beginning Friday, March 19th.

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