With Disney Plus’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set to release March 19, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have forgotten where these characters were left off in July 2019.
The show will feature many returning characters the audience have not seen since the events of Avengers: Endgame or earlier. As the name suggests, the series stars the Falcon and the Winter Soldier as they try to fill the shoes left behind by Steve Rogers when he retired from being Captain America.
Tonally, the show is said to be similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, making the show the first normal content in the MCU since the release of Spiderman: Far From Home in June 2019 (fans of the MCU can all agree that WandaVision is anything but “normal”).
In case you need to brush up on your MCU knowledge, Glue has put together everything you need to know about key characters before starting the show.
Full disclosure, this piece will feature spoilers for all MCU content up until Avengers: Endgame.
The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, was first introduced to the MCU in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Samuel Thomas ‘Sam’ Wilson. Since his introduction, Wilson has acted as Captain America’s right-hand. The two have similar values and backgrounds as soldiers in the United States Army.
Wilson is a former United States Airforce pararescue airman who left active duty after his wingman was shot down while serving in Afghanistan.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Wilson helped Captain America bring down HYDRA. Afterwards, Wilson helps Rogers track down the Winter Soldier, who was recently discovered to be Rogers’ longtime best friend, Bucky Barnes. He later joins the Avengers at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Wilson is next seen in Captain America: Civil War, where he stood with Captain America in opposition to Iron Man and the Sokovia Accords, which would regulate the activities of “enhanced individuals” such as the Avengers and place them under government control. At the end of the film and with the Avengers disbanded, Wilson enters hiding along with Rogers and Black Widow.
In Avengers: Infinity War, the trio comes out of hiding after being warned of Thanos’ forces arriving on Earth. Wilson fights in the Battle of Wakanda, but is killed alongside half of the universe’s population during ‘the Snap.’
In Avengers: Endgame, Wilson is revived during ‘the Blip’ and fights in the film’s climactic battle against Thanos’ army.
Afterwards, Wilson is seen at Tony Stark’s funeral, where he is given Captain America’s shield by an elderly Steve Rogers. In an interview with SiriusXM, actor Anthony Mackie stresses that Wilson has not yet agreed to take up the mantle of Captain America.
“At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Cap decided he was going into retirement and he asked me if I would take up the shield,” says Mackie. “But at no point in time did I agree to or say that I would be Captain America.”
“So the show walks the line of who is going to take up the shield and who is going to be Captain America if Steve isn’t coming back.”
The Winter Soldier:
Starring alongside Sam Wilson is James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, Steve Rogers’ longtime best friend and fellow World War II veteran.
During the war, Bucky was captured and experimented on by HYDRA. These experiments gave him enhanced abilities that allowed him to survive falling several hundred feet in Captain America: The First Avenger, albeit at the cost of an arm. He’s deemed MIA by the US army, but is captured by HYDRA and the Soviet Union.
Bucky is further experimented on by HYDRA and is then granted superhuman abilities and a cybernetic arm. He’s brainwashed to become the Winter Soldier, an assassin who targets HYDRA’s enemies. Between missions, he’s cryogenically frozen, which allows him to be preserved until he is reintroduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In The Winter Soldier, Barnes is sent to assassinate Nick Fury but encounters Captain America, his old best friend. The two clashed several times before Bucky slowly started to remember his past life and best friend, Steve. At the end of the film, Barnes saves Rogers from drowning, but flees, deserting HYDRA to learn more of his past.
In the events of Captain America: Civil War, Bucky is framed by Helmet Zemo for the murder of King T’Chaka of Wakanda. After being captured, Zemo uses HYDRA’s trigger codes to manipulate Barnes into going berserk until being incapacitated by Captain America.
Rogers and Barnes proceed to flee from the law in order to clear Barnes’ name and capture Zemo. While investigating a former HYDRA facility with Iron Man, they learn that the Winter Soldier killed Tony’s parents Howard and Maria Stark. Stark attacks Barnes, but Barnes and Rogers incapacitate him and flee to Wakanda. There, Barnes enters cryostasis until he can be “cured” of his brainwashing.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Barnes fights in the battle of Wakanda, but is killed during ‘the Snap.’ He is later resurrected in Avengers: Endgame and fights in the battle for Earth.
At Tony Stark’s funeral, Barnes says a final farewell to his best friend before Rogers travels to the past.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, actor Sebastian Stan says that Rogers doesn’t give Barnes Captain America’s shield because he wants Bucky to experience what he lost – a life of his own.
“Steve is saying to Bucky, ‘You’re not going to go and do that, too. I’m not going to put this thing on you. We’re both going to live our lives – the lives that were actually taken from us back in the ‘40s when we enlisted,’” says Stan.
Great niece to Peggy Carter, founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. and old flame to Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter was first introduced in The Winter Soldier as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., tasked with defending Captain America.
In the film, she helps Rogers take down HYDRA, who have taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside.
She next appears in Civil War, where she gives Captain America’s team, their equipment and helps them flee from authorities. Afterwards, she enters hiding as she’s wanted for aiding a group technically considered to be criminals.
Carter has been featured on posters for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and is seen fighting alongside Barnes and Wilson in recently released trailers.
Baron Helmut Zemo:
Returning for the first time since his debut in Civil War, Helmut Zemo, now Baron Helmut Zero, assumes a costume much closer to that of his comic counterpart, minus a crown and sword.
A former Colonel with the Sokovian armed force, Zemo fought against Ultron during the battle of Sokovia during Avengers: Age of Ultron. During the battle, his family was killed by rubble, which he blames the Avengers for.
Swearing revenge on all superheroes, Zemo retrieves old HYDRA codewords, used to brainwash the Winter Soldier and frames Barnes for the death of King T’Chaka. After Barnes has been captured, Zemo brainwashes him to sew discourse among the Avengers and provoke infighting.
When pursued by Captain America, the Winter Soldier and Iron Man, he reveals that Barnes murdered Stark’s parents. This causes the Avengers to split up. Just as Zemo wanted, he brought their empire “crashing down from the inside.”
He’s next seen in the recently released trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, saying “superheroes cannot be allowed to exist. I have no intention to leave my work unfinished.”
The show is said to be filled with action and espionage, while also balancing a sort of “odd couple” routine between Wilson and Barnes.
We can’t be sure of what exactly the show has in store for viewers. To find out, we’ll just have to tune in on March 19.