Both audiences and characters alike were surprised at the final scene in the series premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as we saw John Walker taking on the mantle of Captain America, with director Kari Skogland noting that the sinister wink Walker delivers to the camera was a choice made by actor Wyatt Russell on set. Understandably, audiences were disappointed that neither Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson nor Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes would have the opportunity to follow in their friend Steve Rogers' footsteps, with the wink serving as a subtle way to tease Walker's true nature without having to deliver any dialogue.
"I wanted it to be kind of heroic and monumental, and so it was low angles and we put them in this portico, a very 'big government' vibe, so it had all of that weight behind it," Skogland revealed to the Empire podcast. "And also, you don't really get to know him, right? You see his back and you see the shield. It's just the nature of how we did it, and then, of course, there's the television of it. It's all about, who is this? What is this? And then – boom – you know, that wink."
Earlier in the episode, Wilson took part in a ceremony that seemingly retired Cap's shield for good, despite Rogers passing it along to Falcon in the final scenes of Avengers: Endgame, with Wilson feeling like only one man deserved to wield it. During the ceremony, Wilson's opinion seemed to be shared by the government, only for that final scene to hint at a drastic change of heart.
Fans who are familiar with Walker know that, while he was initially debuted in order to take over as Captain America in the '80s, he was meant to be a slightly twisted version of what it means to be a "patriot" and this was reflected in the ways his tactics differed from Rogers. Walker would prove a popular enough character that he would pivot to become US Agent, with this wink teasing that Walker has the same ambition as his comic-book counterpart, but that things likely aren't as they seem.
"That was completely a moment that Wyatt brought to the party," Skogland confirmed. "And that was fantastic. All the actors brought lots of moments like that to the story, because once they once they got inside their character, they were able to play. Out of that comes brilliance."
New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debut on Fridays on Disney+.
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