Marvel’s second Disney Plus series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, aired its finale on Friday without any plans for the future. Based on the current Marvel movie and TV calendar, there are no plans for a Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 2 or a future movie for the Captain America-adjacent characters. But the final episode, and its key after-credits scene, promise there’s more to this universe. Steve Rogers's legacy will, it seems, soldier on.
[Ed. note: This story contains major spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s sixth and final episode.]
For all the loose ends Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 6 needed to tie up, “One World, One People,” written by Josef Sawyer and series creator Malcolm Spellman, also moved pieces into position for some form of a sequel. In the end, Sam Wilson assumed the role of Captain America, sporting his blended Falcon-Cap armor from the comics. John Walker reconnected with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and received his own upgrade: a black variant of his costume, and the designation of “U.S. Agent.”
And then there’s the issue of the Power Broker. Though episode 5 made it fairly clear of the crime overlord’s identity, the finale pulled off the mask: Sharon Carter. Burned by her SHIELD contemporaries and gone rogue in the aftermath of the Blip, Carter was the one pulling the strings for Karli Morgenthau’s super-serum operation. And in the post-credits scene, Sam, unaware of Carter’s double-identity, makes good on his promise of awarding her with a full pardon.
“Ms. Carter, the Carter name has always been synonymous with service and trust. Today we begin to set things up. We begin to pay the debt that’s been owed to you.”
Amazingly, in a show so focused on the Black experience and a history of American systems harming people of color, Sharon is the one who the government has decided to “pay” back. Go figure. (Another galaxy-brain reading of this scene, but on the opposite end of the spectrum: The senator’s final word, “Welcome home, Agent Carter,” sounds like a jab thrown in the direction of ABC and the creative team behind the Agent Carter TV series, who were all pushed aside when Kevin Feige decided to own the television side of the Marvel Studios storytelling operation.)
In the final beat of the after-credits scene, viewers learn that the ex-Agent 13 will return to a role within a U.S. intelligence agency (SWORD?) and because she is actually diabolical, she’ll use the new access to sell state secrets and other military perks. Seems bad! But where will the Power Broker’s traitorous turn manifest in the future of the Marvel timeline?
Two series into an unfathomably expansive and ever-growing TV slate, Marvel has yet to tout any of its programmings as more than mini-series one-offs. WandaVision was considered a one-off, with an emphasis on it teeing up 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. There have been murmurs that Loki, set to debut in June, will actually earn a second season. But plans for a Falcon and the Winter season 2 are murky, and Feige hasn’t helped the matter.
“It’s a funny question,” he said at a press conference back in March, “and it’s one that we obviously get asked much more in television because people expect it to be like what people know before. We really did approach it like we do the movies: We better make this great, because we won’t be able to do another one. If we were able to do another one, there are certainly ideas.” In the same breath, the Marvel mastermind suggested storylines set up by the shows could dip back and forth between second seasons on Disney Plus or feature films.
Depending on how much the small screen taints Marvel’s ability to pitch audiences on a big-screen Falcon-as-Captain-America movie team-up with Bucky along for the ride — doesn’t sound that hard? — may depend on where they go next. But there’s nothing formal on the schedule, and there don’t appear to be many co-starring role slots for Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, or Emily VanCamp available in the next few years. This year will see the prequel film Black Widow finally hit theaters, then Shang-Chi (which many have speculated, based on the trailer, may return the MCU to Madripoor) and Eternals in the fall. After that, fans get Doctor Strange 2, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther 2, and Captain Marvel 2, none of which seem like obvious fits for Sam Wilson’s ascension to the role of Captain America. One expects some kind of Avengers-style crossover event in 2023 or beyond, but so far, Marvel hasn’t called its shot.
There’s more potential for Sharon’s Power Broker plot to play out on Disney Plus. Late 2021 will see the debut of Hawkeye, which teams Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton with his successor, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). The grounded, smaller-scale action seems like a sandbox that could bring Sharon and even Sam, both of whom don’t rely on Actual Super Powers to get by, back into the fold. But the only casting leaks out of Hawkeye have been connections to Black Widow, not The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. After that, we’ll see series adaptations of Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, which may be too heightened and supernatural for the Captain America crew. 2022’s She-Hulk could potentially see Bruce Banner’s lawyer cousin Jennifer Walters (set to be played by Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany) put Sharon on trial for her high crimes. We’d watch the hell out of that.
In 2023, Marvel’s TV focus shifts to Iron Man-esque storytelling, and it’s probably the most likely way to fold Sam’s Captain America and Sharon’s insidious Power Broker alter ego back into the proceedings. Shows like Ironheart and Armor Wars are all wrapped up in Stark tech, while Secret Invasion will find Nick Fury and his Captain Marvel buddy Talos sniffing out hidden Skrulls. With an appearance by the Dora Milaje in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Marvel’s in-development series set in Wakanda could certainly find room for the White Wolf.
But one hopes, with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s anointment of Sam as Captain America, that there’s room for a new incarnation of the hero to get his big-screen moment. A meta-speech in the episode preemptively challenges any calcified, conservative Americans who’d believe a Black Captain America is controversial. Is it groundwork for a bigger announcement down the road? Or could The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 2 be in the works? Disney decided to submit the show as a Drama Series instead of a Limited Series for his year’s Emmys, leading some to believe there could be more in the future.
Of course there will be. Marvel history suggests this isn’t the end for Sam, Bucky, or Sharon’s Power Broker — in the MCU, there are no loose ends, only kernels of story to pop in the sequels. But with the advent of streaming, and Marvel’s secretive, cameo-giddy planning, we may not know where the story continues until it’s right in front of us.