Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Cap No More

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may not be the best MCU based series released on Disney+ to date. But for all its faults and shortcomings, what it does have in my opinion is one of the most unforgettable moments in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. And no I am not referring to the debut of Sam Wilson as the new Captain America.

Seeing Captain America with a bloody shield standing over the body of a man he had just bludgeoned to death with said shield as the world looks on is one of those “holy shit” moments that I don’t think many people expected to see in a Disney produced series. And for many this is the image that will forever be linked to the man named John F. Walker. Even if they kind of semi redeemed his character by series end, I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that he’s probably one of the most least liked characters ever introduced in the MCU.

In my case though, I never disliked John Walker. Having read quite a number of Captain America comics in the 90’s, I was very familiar with Walker and I was very excited to see his MCU debut in the series. His comic debut was a major part of my favorite Captain America story of all time.

Before I go any further, some fair warning; I'll be going full spoilers on the comic story and origin of John Walker so if you have any plans of reading “Captain America No More” then I suggest you stop here. If not then please feel free to continue :)

So here’s how the story goes in bold strokes. Steve Rogers is summoned to appear before a mysterious Gov’t branch called the Commission. They attempt to force him to work for them because they claim that the U.S. government holds the legal rights to the name, costume, and shield of Captain America. Naturally Rogers refuses and decides to give up being Cap. He gives up the shield and takes up a new costumed identity of The Captain.

With Rogers gone, the Commission appoints a new Captain America, US Army veteran John F. Walker. Now this isn’t the actual first appearance of Walker as he originally debuted a few issues prior as a more proactive US themed “hero” called the Super-Patriot. With his gang of “Buckies” (Bold Urban Commandos) he had a less than amicable public run in with Rogers, proclaiming himself to be the new “American hero” and Captain America old and outdated.

While Walker didn’t have the same super soldier serum running in his veins like Rogers, he too possessed superhuman strength. Prior to becoming the Super Patriot and the Bold Urban Commandos, Walker and his friends Lemar Hoskins, Hector Lennox and Jerome Johnson underwent the Power Broker process in order to compete in the Universal Class Wrestling Federation.

Anyway, while Walker was recruited as Captain America, only Hoskins was approved to join him as his new partner Battle Star. Unfortunately Lennox and Johnson were rejected due to prior run-ins with the law. Feeling betrayed, they plotted their revenge against Walker.

That revenge took place during Walker’s official public introduction as Captain America, under their new costumed identities of Left and Right Winger, they outed John Walker’s identity on national television. This stunt ultimately led to John’s parents being kidnapped by an extreme right wing terrorist group called the Watch Dogs. And when Walker tried to rescue them, they were mercilessly gunned down right before his eyes.

Now even before this event, As Captain America, Walker proved to be a little more rough around the edges and more prone to fits of anger, often leading to his enemies being beaten close to death’s door. But seeing his parents executed was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Walker snapped and went ape shit crazy brutally killing several members of the Watch Dogs.

When that was done, he hunted down his former friends Left and Right Winger. After beating them silly, he hung them upside down next to an oil tank giving them one of their torch weapons to try and escape, while the other was set to ignite the tank. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t escape and Walker assumed that they were dead. They actually survived...barely, but they were so severely burned that they eventually did kill themselves.

Anyway It’s at this point that the true mastermind behind everything reveals himself...and it’s Steve Rogers! Just kidding, it’s actually the Red Skull resurrected in a cloned body of Steve Rogers, cuz you know...comics. The Skull lures Walker to a building where he confronts him posing as Steve Rogers and takes credit for everything that happened to Walker up to this point, from his appointment to Captain America to the kidnapping and murder of his parents. He then leaves Walker to fight off more of his lackeys.

At the same time, the real Steve Rogers, confronts the head of the Commission whom he catches reporting to a mysterious shadowy figure via video call. But before he can divulge his true boss’s identity, he is killed with a healthy dose of red death dust sprayed on his face from his private phone line. After disarming the device, Steve traces the origin of the line and it leads him straight to the building where Walker has been busy dispatching the Skull’s lackeys.

It’s here that the Red Skull also makes his existence known to Rogers via video screen and explains his master plan in full, which was to use an unhinged Walker to tarnish the image of Captain America to the public. Having heard enough, Rogers leaves and runs into Walker who has basically killed all of the Skulls goons. And thus begins the customary hero vs “hero” portion of the story. 

Unsurprisingly, Rogers eventually bests Walker and the Red Skull finally makes his grand entrance and stands face to face with Rogers. He distracts Rogers with a bit more of super villainy exposition in an attempt to blow another dose of his red death dust on Steve’s face through his cigarette. All this time, Walker slowly recovers, sees the two “Steves” chatting and makes a snap decision to undercut the fake Rogers with his shield, thus saving the real Rogers. This results in the Red Skull being exposed to his own red dust. And while it doesn’t kill him...his head is turned into...yup, you guessed it, a Red Skull. And he runs off crying mommy.

The aftermath of this story is basically what you expect, the two Captains make nice and explain to the real US Gov’t commission what really happened. And Walker steps down as Cap and convinces Rogers to take back what is rightfully his. And they have a grand public turning over ceremony with both Caps present. And all is good.

Or is it?