The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is proving to be every bit the six-part movie — and we just found out who the villain is.
In episode 1, Torres loops Sam into his investigation of the Flag Smashers, an international terrorist group who believe life was better during the Blip and that we should live in a unified, borderless world.
But as episode 2 reveals, there’s a lot more going on.
Sam and Bucky go head-to-head and hand-to-vibranium-arm with the Smashers in a stunning fight sequence set atop two moving trucks — and learn that the Smashers are super soldiers, just like Bucky and Steve. We know from Captain America: Civil War that HYDRA made more Winter Soldiers, but we also know that they’re supposed to be dead thanks to Helmut Zemo. He used them as bait to lure Tony, Steve, and Bucky to Siberia and then murdered the soldiers in their lil pods so the Avengers could fight to the death.
Bucky doesn’t clarify this when Sam mentions “the other Winter Soldiers,” but maybe he’s distracted by their interaction with New Captain America and that highly erotic roll in the grass. Either way: The Flag Smashers aren’t Winter Soldiers.
This is not much of a relief because it means they somehow got their hands on a working version of the super soldier serum, which no one is supposed to have replicated since Erskine’s original formula. Someone is out there manufacturing serum, and manufacturing soldiers who will take it and enforce their Thanosian view of the world.
Enter Power Broker.
These two words uttered by Flag Smasher Karli reveal who’s really behind the new super soldiers. In the comics, Power Broker is Curtiss Jackson, a villain who specifically battles John Walker’s Captain America. Jackson teams up with Dr. Karl Malus to enhance the strength and ability of their clients — experiments that could lead to exactly the strength we see on display with the Flag Smashers.
Power Broker is all about profit. He’s cut deals with wrestlers, heroes, hired muscle, and more. He has connections in the comics to Lamar Hoskins, introduced this episode as Battlestar. If the Flag Smashers are running from his men, it means they didn’t hold up their end of the deal or they took something he wants back.
In the truck sequence, Bucky believes the Flag Smashers are hijacking a shipment of vaccines. The German man who later gives them shelter says their admirers call them Robin Hood; they’re taking from the rich to give to the poor. That could mean vaccine distribution, but Bucky Barnes is no scientist, so we can’t accept his word on what was in that truck. If the truck was carrying super soldier serum, it would explain why Power Broker chased down the Smashers before they could fly off with their loot.
It also means they plan on giving the serum to ordinary people. In a world where everyone has the strength of Steve Rogers, a super soldier is just a soldier. An Avenger is equally matched with any guy on the street. It’s a level playing field, but one in which many more people are capable of lifting cities into the sky and killing innocent people in the process. The part in particular should resonate with Zemo, who hates enhanced individuals so much that he didn’t think twice about destroying the Winter Soldiers.
Then there’s Walker, who we got to know more this week but still hate on principle. He may be the new Captain America, but he’s no Steve Rogers, in more ways than one. He tested off the charts for physical strength and endurance, but he doesn’t have super strength. If Walker follows the trail to Power Broker, he’ll have the chance to cut a deal and become at least physically matched to his predecessor.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs Fridays on Disney+.
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