When Sam Wilson donated Steve Rogers’ shield to the Smithsonian, he expected it to live there as a testament to the retired Avenger’s legacy. Instead, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced a new Captain America in John Walker, played by Lodge 49’s Wyatt Russell.
Walker is a military man who represents “real American values.” But after taking up Cap’s shield, hacking into Redwing to track Sam and Bucky, and telling the titular heroes to stay out of his way when they refuse to work with the government, Walker has officially become the show’s persona non grata. Despite not being well-received by fans in the show’s first two episodes, Russell isn’t bothered by all the hate.
“Everyone’s feeling a personal connection to people that they like, and that they identify with. A lot of people really love Steve Rogers and Chris Evans’ version of him and now it’s like, ‘Somebody else is that guy? It should have been Falcon,’” Russell shares. “It’s fun to put your version of what you don’t like onto somebody because it feels good to direct it to a person and have valid points about why you don’t like them.”
To be fair, fans aren’t supposed to like Walker. He is the guy replacing Steve Rogers, and his enthusiastic, government-sponsored patriotism isn’t exactly comforting. So if people don’t like him, then Russell is doing his job correctly.
“It’s not every day you get to be villainized in the Marvel world,” Russell adds. “I take it as a compliment.”
As the new Captain America, John Walker can hold his own in regular hand-to-hand combat. That said, he isn’t a Super Soldier like Steve Rogers, so he’s at a disadvantage when it comes to squaring off against super-powered beings like the Flag Smashers (who can break bones with their bare hands). If given the option to enhance one’s abilities, Russell notes “it would be difficult for anybody not to feel that temptation,” but he isn’t so sure that Walker would say yes to a Super Soldier serum.
“John’s a guy who’s very principled, and he doesn’t want to do anything that he would consider wrong,” he explains. “But what we’re learning is that people’s versions of what’s wrong or right are very different, so those lines can get blurred very easily, especially for someone who wants something so bad as the poison of wanting to be loved too much. When you want people to love you too much, you become a person that maybe you’re not — and is that really the path that you want to take? That’s what he’s fighting with now. Maybe he’ll face that kind of thing down the road, maybe he won’t. But as of now, he’s just trying to do the best that he can with the body he has.”
Walker, thus far, has been painted as a decent military man who’s just really excited about his new gig. But if we’re taking cues from the comics, it’s only a matter of time before the cracks start to show in his “Good Guy” image.
“With John, what we’re learning is that there’s something bubbling underneath the surface… and it’s not all great,” Russell hints.