Last week’s Disney’s Investors webcast focusing on their streaming services was the first full-on outright confirmation of Disney+’s Falcon and Winter Soldier series starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their big-screen MCU roles.
In addition to showing off a title card, Disney confirmed it’ll be the first of the planned MCU series (including the confirmed Loki, WandaVision and unconfirmed Hawkeye) to debut, sometime during the first year of the service that launches November 12, 2019.
The existence of the title card itself isn’t insignificant, as it seems to confirm that’s the official title and not a working title starring those two actors in their film characters.
Why is the title important and what can be glean about Avengers: Endgame from just confirmation the series exists?
Here are five thoughts:
1. Captain America Is ‘Indisposed’
While it’s possible The Falcon and the Winter Soldier narrative is 24-style and the extended series occurs in a brief time period while Cap is on another mission, just the teaming of these characters who have a brief history of disliking one another indicates Cap simply isn’t around to take their call.
Its doubtful Marvel Studios wants to launch its streaming ambitions with the clunkly narrative conceit Cap is just busy or retired (he isn't the retiring type). This is just the latest indication Endgame takes Steve off the board in more permanent fashion.
Going another step further it seems to indicate what would reluctantly bring them together is a mission involving Captain America in some fashion directly, so important to both of them they’d put aside their differences to team-up, perhaps reluctantly.
More on that in a moment.
2. Neither of them IS Captain America
This may be the most significant inference from the title of the series. With Evans retiring from the role in live-action, there is speculation that the Captain America mantle could be passed down to Sam or Bucky, given in recent comic book canon both have inherited the role in recent years.
The series title seems to indicate Steve doesn’t pass down the rank of Captain America to either of his best friends in Endgame.
Marvel President Kevin Feige has promised unlike Marvel Cinematic Universe television shows in the past, these Disney+ series will impact the overall narrative significantly - that what happens in these series will impact the films going forward.
Could The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in fact be all about who eventually earns or inherits the mantle of Captain America?
Reports indicate the Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner will be about him training Kate Bishop to take over for him. Perhaps there will be a thematic link to the series.
3. The Shield
Marvel Comics has in the past gone to great lengths to set up the legacy of the shield as a lynchpin of inheriting the legacy of Captain America, and Marvel Studios loves their iconography and their MacGuffins.
In comic books, Captain America’s death was followed by a period of uncertainty over who would take up his mantle - and shield - with Bucky eventually winning out, and Falcon serving as his partner and ally as he did with Steve Rogers.
An older, well-regarded original Guardians of the Galaxy story arc "Quest for the Shield" involved Vance Astrovik searching for the shield in the far future and adopting the Captain America-inspired heroic identify Major Victory upon obtaining it.
The shield - perhaps if it goes missing or winds up in the wrong hands - could certainly be a plot device used to bring the characters together to search for it or wrestle it back from someone who steals it…
...and could go a long way towards determining who holds onto it after the completion of the series.
4. But What About Tony?
A significant unique wrinkle of the MCU is that Howard Stark created the shield, a key point in the final moments of Captain America: Civil War when Tony more or less demands the 'undeserving' Steve leave it with him after the two fiercely battle.
So Tony would be the one person who’d have a claim to the shield and/or would be invested in its safekeeping and legacy and/or retrieving it from someone not rightfully having it in their possession.
Which may be an indication post-Endgame, Tony may be ‘indisposed’ as well.
5. Possible Villains?
Remember, Batroc, Zemo and in a way Red Skull are all still out there, played (and in Red Skull’s case newly-played) by actors that could probably be swayed to return to their role for a high-profile streaming series.
If the allure of the Marvel Studios contribution to the Disney+ service is going to be their seamless integration with the movies, don’t be surprised to see The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to go up against one or more of them.