The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may be over, but the consequences of the hit Disney Plus series are likely to be felt across the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come.
After some emotional soul-searching, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) decided he would take up the mantle of Captain America, debuting in a flashy new super-suit in the series finale.
Since the show wrapped up, it has been reported that a fourth instalment in the Captain America film franchise is in the works, with Mackie set to return in the lead role.
It seems this movie could be produced instead of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season two, but with showrunner Malcolm Spellman writing the script, the streaming show is sure to have a big influence on Sam Wilson's story going forward.
Read on for all the information we have so far on the future of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as well as what the series means for Captain America 4.
Will The Falcon and the Winter Soldier return for season 2?
At the time of writing, it's looking like The Falcon and the Winter may not return for a second season – but don't worry, you haven't seen the last of Sam Wilson's all-new Captain America.
Shortly after the final episode dropped, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Marvel Studios are developing a fourth Captain America movie with Anthony Mackie in the title role.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's head writer Malcolm Spellman is currently working on the script with Dalan Musson, which is expected to continue the unresolved plot threads from the recent finale.
A few days after the announcement went public, Mackie claimed that it was a surprise to even him, telling Entertainment Weekly that he hadn't been informed in advance.
"I literally found out yesterday in a grocery store," he said. "The checkout guy named Dwayne, a cool cat, he's like, 'Yo, man. Is this real?! I'm like, 'I haven't heard anything.'
"That's what I love about working for Marvel. They call you, they're like, 'Come to L.A. We wanna tell you what's going on.' So, I'm excited to see what happens, but I haven't heard anything."
Previously, Marvel producers Kevin Feige and Nate Moore had hinted that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could run for multiple seasons, but it now seems that these plans have changed or were perhaps intended to throw fans off the scent.
"Whereas Falcon and the Winter Soldier is really about dealing with, to me, the legacy of what a superhero is, through the lens of Captain America and his shield, but ultimately through the lens of all these different characters," Moore told IndieWire. "And that’s a story I think you can revisit in subsequent seasons because it’s an evergreen story. It’s a conversation."
Will season 2 be called Captain America and the Winter Soldier?
As discussed above, it's looking like there may not be a second season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, meaning that the final title card of the series was probably just intended to cement Sam Wilson's status as the new Captain America.
It's possible that the upcoming fourth Captain America film could continue with the Captain America and the Winter Soldier name, but that could cause some confusion among audiences due to its similarity with the show.
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Therefore, Marvel Studios may revert to giving Captain America solo billing in his next film, adding a relevant subtitle as the each chapter in the original trilogy had (The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier and Civil War).
Interestingly, showrunner Malcolm Spellman has revealed (via THR) that the closing card of the series almost read Captain America and the White Wolf, indicating Bucky has permanently left behind his Winter Soldier persona.
"I believe they wanted the impact of Captain America and the Winter Soldier to land," Spellman said. "And I do think that had they done Captain America and the White Wolf, it might not have been as emotional of a landing because it’s too much math and too much evolution."
Who could be in a potential The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 2 cast?
While it's unclear if we'll see an official second season of The Falcon and the Winter on Disney Plus, it seems very likely that several key players from the show will pop up again in Captain America 4.
Chiefly, we expect Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan to share the screen once more in the upcoming blockbuster as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, now known by the respective codenames Captain America and the White Wolf.
With the role of Falcon now vacant in the MCU, it's quite possible that Danny Ramirez will return as Joaquin Torres, the character who inherited Sam's wingsuit in the comics – and took ownership of it in this first season.
Another breakout star from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier proved to be Wyatt Russell as John Walker, the antihero fans loved to hate who took on the title of USAgent in the series finale.
Russell claims to know nothing about what Marvel Studios has planned for his character, but given the strong fan reception to his performance, we'd say he's a strong contender to return at some point down the line.
"Part of the way I approached Marvel was it’s all your last time you’re going to do it," he told Vanity Fair. "Marvel operates in a really cool way where they don’t make decisions before they see what works. I’m not a part of any of this decision making, obviously.”
Last time we saw John Walker, he was being groomed for a new superhero gig by the mysterious and sassy Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
After her surprise debut in the fifth episode of the series, word got out that Marvel Studios has big plans for this particular character, who is rumoured to appear next in this summer's long-delayed Black Widow movie.
"She's so talented and you can do so much with her. And she's game for it," said Nate Moore in an interview with EW. "She certainly didn't come to us and say, 'I'll be in one show once.'
"She was like, 'I want to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.' And we said, 'Great! Let's get you in and let's figure out how to use you.' And the truth is, I think you will see her in the future. Definitely."
Speaking of morally questionable characters, the story of Sharon Carter (played by Emily VanCamp) has been blown wide open by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's post-credits scene, which revealed her to be the villainous Power Broker.
The execs at Marvel Studios have been coy about whether they will be exploring this further – but let's face it, it's very likely they will – with producer Zoie Nagelhout among Sharon's biggest fans.
"I think she's such an interesting character," she told EW. "I don't think she's all bad, I don't think she's all good. I think she lives in a middle ground that is really compelling. To get to explore that character further and what shades of grey she might drift between could be really interesting."
Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo is another villain strongly suspected to be returning for more Marvel projects, with his name frequently associated with Contessa Valentina's rumoured Thunderbolts team.
It's also likely we'd see the return of Adepero Oduye as Sarah Wilson in Captain America 4, as she was shown to be a huge part of Sam's civilian life throughout the first season.
As rumours abound about Marvel Studios potentially assembling the Young Avengers in live-action, fans have also speculated that actor Elijah Richardson could return as Eli Bradley, the vigilante later known as Patriot.
"Honestly that’s kind of all it is, is hopes and dreams,” Richardson told The Direct. “I mean, yeah obviously, who doesn’t want to be a part of the MCU? Right? But I mean, we’ll see. It’s more of a we’ll see.”
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 2 theories
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's season one finale left a number of plot-threads open for continuation in a follow-up – whether that ends up being another season of streaming television or a blockbuster movie.
First and foremost, fans will be keen to delve deeper into the new roles adopted by Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, as the former takes on the mantle of Captain America and the latter leaves the Winter Soldier moniker behind for good.
Screenwriter Malcolm Spellman explained to ComicBook.com: "When Bucky enters the series, he's never ever shaken what he believes, which is, 'I remember everyone [I murdered], which means that part of me was there, which means a part of the Winter Soldier is me.' And if even a fraction of Winter Soldier is you, you are an awful person.
"By the end of this series, Bucky is emerging as having shed the burden of the Winter Soldier," Spellman added. "He has found a new family, ironically, it's a Black family in Louisiana. He has tasted being a hero for the first time and I think he's now free to become something amazing."
A figure of intrigue in the second half of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was intelligence officer turned crime lord Sharon Carter, who was confirmed to be the villain known as Power Broker.
She killed Karli Morgenthau, as promised in a threatening text several episodes earlier, allowing her to keep her alter-ego secret as her official pardon elevated her to a senior level in US intelligence once more.
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's post-credits scene, she expressed an intention to use this position to her advantage, telling one of her underlings to line up buyers for experimental weapons and top secret intel.
If Sharon continues down this path, it's only a matter of time before she finds herself fighting against Sam and Bucky, leading some to wonder if she would be the main villain in a potential second season or fourth film.
There's also the matter of Baron Zemo to attend to, as even imprisoned the mastermind is still pulling strings on the outside world, sending his faithful butler to kill the Flag Smasher's few remaining super soldiers.
The character has evolved from the outright villainy we saw in Captain America: Civil War to anti-hero status across these six episodes, prompting speculation he could be called upon to join Marvel's team of reformed baddies: the Thunderbolts.
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