The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ends with the implication that John Walker (Wyatt Russell) has been recruited by someone despite his mistakes and flaws during his time as Captain America, but if the MCU decides to make him a sympathetic antihero it would completely ruin his entire story. Walker was one of the most complex pieces of the puzzle that was Marvel's most recent television outing; he was a broken, troubled man thrust into one of the most recognizable titles on Earth. Couple this with his proclivity towards violence and his hot-tempered entitlement and you have a recipe for disaster, a toxic miasma that came to a head in episode 4 with his extra-judicial murder of an unarmed Flag Smasher.
Walker's actions are a sharp contrast to the consistent behavior of the man who actually ends up earning the title of Captain America, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). Since he was handed the shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam has wrestled with the implications of what it represents as a symbol and also what it means as a Black man in America to wield that symbol. It actually wasn't until Sam was faced with two different visions of America's soul - John Walker's arrogance and the racial exploitation perpetuated against Isaiah Bradley - that he finally decided to step up and become the contemporary Captain America so desperately needed in a divided world.
Displaced from the mantle, the last time John Walker is shown he's wearing a comic-accurate U.S. Agent costume and being geared up for a return to action by Countess Fontaine (Julia-Louis Dreyfus). And while that return could take on a number of different contexts, the MCU should draw a clear line and avoid turning Walker into an antihero that the audience should root for.
In the comics, John Walker did take over as Captain America for a period of time in the early, only to be forced to turn the shield back over due to his hardline personality and brutal methods of dealing with criminals. Much like the MCU version, the John Walker of the comics believed that he was the last bastion of American exceptionalism; the kind of get-the-job-done type who truly believes that all of his negative actions are for some sort of greater good. After losing the mantle of Captain America, Walker became U.S. Agent and over time comic books began to shift him more towards a stern but well-meaning antihero, forgetting about all the cruel and horrible things he'd done in the past (such as burning Left-Winger and Right-Winger alive, two C-list villains who were once friends of Walker's). Episode 6 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier leans pretty close to this, bringing Walker into the fold with Sam and Bucky during the final fight and even helping them take on the Flag-Smashers and save civilians.
Redemption is certainly a powerful storytelling tool, found in everything from franchises like Star Wars to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Even the MCU has used the sympathetic character turn at points, such as M'Baku's change of heart in Black Panther as well as Loki's unexpected journey towards heroism after trying to subjugate the Earth in The Avengers. But the thing that always separated those kinds of characters from other, more deliberate villains is their own accountability and regret for their actions.
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