When Wyatt Russell stepped out in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as John Walker, the new and government-approved Captain America, it was with an improvised wink that "everybody hated." The premiere episode of the Marvel Studios original series, "New World Order," ends with the United States government touting decorated military man Walker as the country's "new hero" after Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) relinquishes the star-spangled shield of a retired Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Episode 1 ends with Walker, wearing an ill-fitted Cap costume, smiling and winking at a press conference camera — a shot the Marvel Cinematic Universe newcomer calls the "wink heard around the world."
"It was an improv, it was a little bit of an improv," Russell told Esquire. "Kari [Skogland, the series director] was moving the camera in and out with all these different angles, and I think I just looked in the camera and winked. I don't know why I did it, I think I might have done it as a joke."
Russell added: "But it worked to make everybody just absolutely despise the wink heard around the world, I guess. Everybody hated it."
Walker's introduction as the new Captain America sparked immediate backlash on social media, where some Twitter users trended the #NotMyCap hashtag in response to a Cap successor who inherited the mantle without Rogers' blessing. When Walker tried and failed to team up with Rogers' "wingmen" — Sam and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) — Marvel fans pushed back against the new Cap a second time after Episode 2, "The Star-Spangled Man."
"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 previously told Empire. "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."
The improvised wink "was fantastic," Skogland said. "All the actors brought lots of moments like that to the story because once they got inside their character, they were able to play. Out of that comes brilliance."
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will premiere its sixth and final episode on Friday, April 23, on Disney+.
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