The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s most significant MCU connections

(L-R): Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo by Julie Vrabelova. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo by Julie Vrabelova. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

With both Sam and Bucky already having a big impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their Disney Plus series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, was bound to have plenty of links to the movies.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the MCU’s accidental sophomore TV show (the pandemic pushed it back behind WandaVision). After the Scarlet Witch bedazzled in the opening MCU Disney Plus series, the pair of Captain America’s partners continue the trend of wowing MCU fans. Kevin Feige made sure that the move from film to TV did not diminish quality of both the narratives and visuals. Falcon and Winter Soldier turned out to be like a giant-sized blockbuster movie that has been converted into spectacular episodic storytelling.

And best of all, the show effortlessly keeps the threads of the film franchise going. Perhaps this strategy does not welcome new viewers, but now that all the movies and the shows are operating at such a high level, who would want to skip any part of this universe? Even if the show’s connections to the films are not caught by every viewer, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is solid enough to stand on its own. Yet each strand that began in prior movie events, and continues in the series, enhances the experience that much more. And those links are primarily rooted in the characters.

Super Supporting Cast in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The show takes flight with Falcon facing off against Batroc the Leaper in an aerial battle. The first Captain America fought against Batroc and his men on a ship at the beginning of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Both Steve and Sam take down the French mercenary. Extra significance of having Batroc included in the opening of both the second Cap feature and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that the former is where we were first introduced to Sam Wilson. It is conspicuously also the storyline that focuses on Bucky’s transformation into Winter Soldier.

Baron Zemo is another returning character from the Captain America movies; in this case, the third film, Civil War. There, he killed King T’Chaka and framed Bucky for it, then was ultimately caught by T’Challa and imprisoned for his crimes. In Falcon and Winter Soldier, the duo need the villain’s super soldier expertise to help them against the Flag Smashers.

When Zemo is done serving his purpose, he returns to Sokovia, the site where his family died (off-screen during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron). The Dora Milaje take him into custody and tell Bucky he will be sent to the Raft. The Raft is the super-prison that we have thus far only seen in Civil War – after Avenger battled Avenger in Germany, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man were kept there, only to be broken out by Captain America. The Raft is mentioned a few times during the show, which can be foreshadowing a future storyline involving a MCU team of Thunderbolts.

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The highlighted member of the Dora Milaje in the show is Ayo, who was established in Civil War, escorting T’Challa. She then fought alongside her king, against Killmonger, in Black Panther and helped protect Vision against the Outriders in Avengers: Infinity War. The fourth episode showcases a flashback scene where Ayo helped Bucky deconstruct his mind-control; this most likely takes place after Black Panther’s post-credits stinger and before he reunites with Steve in Avengers: Infinity War.

The Wakandans crafting new wings for Falcon is reminiscent of what has happened previously in the MCU with his current partner Bucky. Bucky’s original metal arm was designed by Hydra using titanium. After Iron Man blasted it off in Civil War, Bucky reformed in Wakanda and received his Vibranium arm. In the series, John Walker broke Falcon’s military grade wings, so Bucky asked his Wakandan friends to build his partner vibranium wings.

Just as Sharon Carter contributed to the latter two Captain America adventures, she also plays a pivotal role in Falcon and Winter Soldier. In Civil War, she helped Steve and the anti-Accords Avengers, which made her a fugitive and she had to leave the country to avoid prison time. In the show, she is an important figure in Madripoor – eventually we find out that she is pretty “powerful”. She has access to many resources and tools, including the same facial disguise technology that Black Widow employed in The Winter Soldier movie.

By the end of the limited series, Sharon finally gets a pardon from the U.S. and is even called Agent Carter for the first time, like her Aunt Peggy. Though we know Peggy would not approve of Sharon’s undercover exploits. As seen in Sharon’s Civil War eulogy of Peggy Carter, her aunt once told her “if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, ‘no, you move’”. Now, Sharon twists those words to the point where, even though she rises through the ranks like Peggy once did, she is placing power above morality and decency.

The “A” Team

The most influential aspects of the MCU carrying over to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier deal with the titular heroes, as well as their old friend’s, Steve Rogers, legacy. In the pilot episode, Sam remembers Captain America’s final lines to him in Avengers: Endgame, which seems to weigh on Falcon as he struggles on the decision of whether or not to become the new Captain America.

Falcon deliberates over following Steve’s heroic example and his own personal feelings about what it means for him to be America’s hero. Sometimes Sam even expresses similar sentiments that Steve did; he uses the same phrase, “just a kid” to describe Karli, that Steve said about Wanda. The larger point of the callback is that these “kids” are both powerful and potentially very dangerous, but unlike Wanda who switched sides to the Avengers, Karli was too set in her ways.

In the finale, Sam telling Karli he is not going to fight her is pointedly reminiscent to Steve telling Bucky the same thing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Obviously, the relationships of Steve and Bucky vs. Sam and Karli are much different, however this still demonstrates the tender connection between Steve and Sam’s forgiving characteristics.

Sam and Bucky’s relationship is also integral in the show and even as they cultivate a strong partnership, their historical bitterness toward each other remains to be a blithe part of their bond. A fun example is in Civil War, when Bucky sat in the back seat of a car and asked Sam to move his seat up in front of him, which Sam refused to do. Then in the show when Sam was sitting behind Bucky in Zemo’s car, Sam posed the same question, but knew that Bucky wouldn’t move his seat up – Sam was right.

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Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie)..Photo Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016 /

Steve’s lasting imprint on Bucky is also prevalent throughout the series. Bucky used his pal’s notebook from The Winter Soldier feature – Steve kept a list of landmark cultural events and items that he missed while he was frozen for 70 years and wished to learn about or discover for the first time. Bucky’s list is of people he must make amends to, such as family members of innocent people that he killed as the brainwashed Winter Soldier.

Steve, Sam, and Bucky all being soldiers is not just the beating heart of the heroes but is also weaved into the fabric of the characters in subtle ways. In the first episode, we see that Winter Soldier sleeps on the floor. This is the perfect nod to a conversation that Sam and Steve had in the second Captain America movie, when they discussed how it is hard to go back to sleeping in a bed after returning from the battlefield.

Continuing with the theme of Captain America’s legacy is a debate between Walker and Hoskins about whether they would take the super soldier serum. John expresses concerns about the potential negative effects and Hoskins rebuts that the serum is designed to amplify the person who takes it, giving the example of Steve Rogers on one end and Karli on the other. This is precisely how Dr. Erskine described the serum to Steve, in Captain America: The First Avenger, before administering it to turn him into Captain America. Someone who is good, like Steve, will become great, while someone who is bad, like Red Skull, is made even worse.

The ultimate juxtaposition between the original Captain America and the one that was assigned by the government is their code of honor as American symbols. At the end of Civil War, Cap stands over Iron Man, ready to smash his shield down on the armored Avenger. Tony covers his helmetless face knowing that Cap could end him at that point and Steve decides to jam his shield into Iron Man’s chest reactor, deactivating his suit. At the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4, the new Captain America is in the same position over one of the Flag Smashers. It isn’t even the one who killed his friend Battlestar, but John makes that contrary decision and kills the man with the shield that once belonged to Steve Rogers.

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Are you looking forward to seeing more of Sam and Bucky in a fourth installment of Captain America? Did you enjoy The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Let us know in the comments below!