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Falcon and the Winter Soldier went to Madripoor, and X-Men fans are stoked

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Marvel’s wretched hive of scum and villainy makes its neon-soaked debut

Three episodes in, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is still pulling in threads from all around the Marvel universe, from old villains and old heroes, to new heroes entirely. But the show’s latest cameo is something entirely different, a first appearance for a new “character” — but also a big new step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe.

Eagled-eyed fans watching out for Falcon and the Winter Soldier press photos and trailer clips put two and two together months ago, but the series’ third episode “Power Broker,” puts it all on the table. This week the MCU went to Madripoor.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Falcon and the Winter Soldier through episode 3.]

What is Madripoor in Marvel Comics?

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

In “Power Broker,” Sam and Bucky and their new buddy Baron Zemo go to Madripoor, a tiny independent island in Indonesia. Bucky says it was a “pirate sanctuary” in the age of sail, and according to Zemo, it has maintained its “lawless ways” in modern global capitalism as well.

It’s basically the same in the comics: A wretched (neon) hive of scum and villainy, available for whenever a Marvel Comics writer needs one of those for a story. Madripoor is generally located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Singapore, it’s ruled by whichever super-powered organized crime lord or lady or cabal happens to be on top this year, and it’s populated by a scant few uber rich and many, many desperately poor.

Why are Marvel fans in such a tizzy to see Madripoor debut?

Madripoor is kind of an X-Men character. While anybody in the Marvel Comics universe can visit the island nation, it was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Steve Leialoha for 1985’s New Mutants #32, and has been a frequent location of X-Men stories ever since. Wolverine even has his own alternate identity there as a notorious guy named Patch who looks just like Wolverine, but wearing a suit and an eyepatch.

That’s catnip to Marvel fans who are on the alert for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to do something, anything with the X-Men, whether it’s introduce mutants to the setting or simply just put the Other Quicksilver in a show. It was not too long ago that 20th Century Fox held the film license for the X-Men and all related characters, preventing Marvel Studios from including mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Marvel recouped the film license to the X-Men through Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and now the corporation can. For some fans, it feels like a mutant character is exactly the kind of shocking reveal that the Marvel Cinematic Universe loves.

In “Power Broker,” we also wind down a street long enough to see a sign for the Princess Bar, Wolverine Patch’s favorite Madripoor watering hole. But Bucky and Sam and Zemo pass by it to visit the Brass Monkey Saloon — at least, judging by the ape skull decor. That location was first seen in Captain America #363. So, while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier might have brought in an X-Men location, it did it in a very Captain America sort of way.