While it’s to be expected that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would draw from the wider Marvel universe, few would have expected the new Disney Plus series to cross over with the Black Panther franchise – well, sort of – in its third episode.
But that’s exactly what did happen in “Power Broker,” which saw the return of some familiar faces as Sam and Bucky (Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan) delved deeper into the Flag-smasher story. Watch out, because we’ll be dealing with spoilers after the jump.
The big gamechanger in episode three is the presence of Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War whose experience with HYDRA makes him the perfect man to track down some errant supersoldiers. Accordingly, Bucky breaks him out of prison to help – but as Sam reminds him, he’s not exactly the most reliable guy on the block.
“He blew up the UN, he killed King T’Chaka and framed you for it. Did you forget that? You think the Wakandans forgot about it?”
And after a few days spent working with Zemo, Sam was proven right. At the close of the episode, as the trio chase a new lead in Riga Bucky notices some small metal spheres, a trail of which he follows until he meets a familiar face.
“I was wondering when you were going to show up,” he says to Florence Kasumba’s Ayo, a member of Wakandan’s royal guard the Dora Milajae last seen in Black Panther.
“I’m here for Zemo,” she replies in Wakandan.
It’s an intriguing twist that few would have seen coming, especially considering the turmoil the Black Panther franchise has been in since the tragic death of its leading man Chadwick Boseman in 2020. While the world has rightfully focused on the sad reality of Boseman’s death over Marvel plot machinations, there has been some interest in how the Black Panther films will continue without him (which they have been confirmed to do), and this looks like the first hint of how that could happen.
That’s how it appears, anyway. Because in reality, this might not be the big moment that it appears when you consider the events of Captain America: Civil War. You see, really Ayo’s appearance here is more of a sequel to that movie than to Black Panther itself, also tying in to Bucky’s time spent recuperating in Wakanda between Civil War and Infinity War.
After all Florence Kasumba appeared in Civil War, which featured the death of King T’Chaka, and while she did later appear in Black Panther she had more of a background role among the Dora Milajae (with Danai Gurira playing squad leader Okoye).
Accordingly, Ayo’s appearance here looks likely to pick up on threads introduced in Civil War (specifically, Zemo’s murder of King T’Chaka) rather than the events of Black Panther, or whatever Ryan Coogler has planned for the sequel. In fact, given that most of the series was written and filmed long before Boseman’s death it seems unlikely the series will touch on T’Challa – and out of respect, it may be assumed that any explicit references would have been cut out anyway.
Still, the surprise appearance of a Wakandan interest in The Falcon and Winter Soldier definitely hints at the global scale of this new Marvel series, as well as the level of crossover possible in these Disney Plus spin-offs. Given Bucky’s personal connection to the country, it’s definitely an organic inclusion in the series – and for fans, it might have even more hidden meaning.
Read our latest The Falcon and the Winter Soldier review.