In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) personal pick to be the successor to the Captain America name, chooses to forgo the honor and donate the shield to the U.S. government.
The first episode of the Disney+ series culminates in a gut-wrenching revelation in its very last moments: The government debuts a brand-new Captain America just days after Sam gives up the shield. It’s here where we’re introduced to John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the new Captain America.
Of course, once this new version of Cap was revealed, Marvel fans didn’t hesitate to share their thoughts on him. Reactions ranged from slightly positive to downright negative in nature.
“The Germans have a word called ‘Backpfeifengesicht,’ which translates to ‘a face that needs punching,'” Reddit user u/Nonadventures said to describe the way Walker makes them feel. “It doesn’t matter whether the person is bad or not, but their face is very punchable. John has that kind of face.”
You can’t expect fans to warm up to a new Captain America immediately, especially when it seems like he’s taking the mantle from under the nose of its rightful owner. But in spite of the hate surrounding his new character, Russell is keeping his spirits up. In a recent interview with Variety, the actor responded to fans’ hatred of John Walker.
Wyatt Russell finds it all very flattering
Overall, Russell is having a blast being filled in on what fans have to say about John Walker — the good, the bad, and the passive-aggressive. He even digs the memes that Marvel fans have been making, specifically one that likens helmeted Walker to the grumpy old man from a beloved Pixar movie.
“I don’t have social media, but I’ve gotten some of the stuff sent to me from friends that were just too good not to see. The best one is the Up guy with the helmet on. It’s f***ing unbelievable. I mean, whoever did that deserves an award of some kind,” Russell said. “It’s flattering. They just hate the guy. They just hate him! It was fun to be the Marvel punching bag for a little while.”
Though it’s fun to hear Marvelites’ thoughts on the new Cap, Russell knows that in joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Steve’s government-appointed replacement, he has big shoes to fill.
He also teased to Variety that what fans see of Walker in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could very well be the character putting on a front.
“In John’s world, he looks up to Steve Rogers, and wants to embody that. When you’re seeing him do his version of it, is it really who John actually is? Or is John trying to be someone that he’s not?” said Russell. “I think that what you’re seeing now is him battling with, ‘How do I be me and deal with this corporation that is the U.S. government?’ It’s the only corporation he’s ever worked for, and it’s worked very well for him in his life.
Now he’s in this different world where there’s a PR aspect to it. He’s just been working in the clandestine world, most likely, where nobody really knows what he’s doing but he’s getting the job done. And now it’s like, ‘Okay, go do that as Captain America’ — and sometimes his version of getting the job done is a little bit not the same.”
We’re now three episodes into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — halfway through the miniseries’ full run — and it’s still too soon to tell whether John Walker is a friend or a foe. Fans will have to keep tuning in to new episodes to find out. With any luck, his stint as Marvel’s punching bag won’t last forever.