We’re halfway through The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and things are heating up. Not only do the pair team up with one of the MCU’s biggest bads this week in “Power Broker,” but we also get a trip to a famous X-Men location, an unexpected bit of help, and a ton of Easter eggs. So let’s start breaking ’em down like we’re Sharon Carter smashing heads in Madripoor.
The Cult of the Global Repatriation Council
While this isn’t a direct Easter egg, it’s an interesting choice. We begin this episode with a cult-esque infomercial about the GRC. We’ve seen Karli rail against them throughout the show and this creepy commercial seems to support her statements. But that will change as the episode goes on. This could still point at some creepy truths about the GRC though.
Breaking the Code of the Super Soldier Serum
This episode is heavily invested in the origins of the new Super Soldier Serum. If you’re hoping for a true Truth: Red, White, and Black exploration, don’t hold your breath. But we do confirm early on that the serum was re-created. We later learn that they used Isaiah’s blood to make the new serum.
Baron Zemo Prison Break
Can a sequence be an Easter egg? Well, let’s just say that in the comics Baron Zemo has done a lot of prison breaks. Others have broken him out of prison a lot of times too. Whether this is a direct reference to that or just an easy way to get him on the crew, this is a canonically accurate series of events for the masked rogue.
Speaking of Baron Zemo
We get a lot of Zemo this episode. Bucky broke him out of prison without telling Sam—rude—and then Zemo took them to his car, which was full of weapons. Nothing particularly comics-centric here but Zemo does have a gun in the comics. But it isn’t usually gold. He states the weapons in his trunk were “collected by my family,” hinting at the fact he’s a legacy villain. Slightly questionable choice as the Zemos before him in the comics were Nazis but sure.
Then the purple mask! Just want to say the mask should be magenta to be comics accurate but it’s just nice to see him don a mask at all. Sadly, it doesn’t get glued to his face. We also get the classic comic book fur trim on the cloak here too. It’s a toned down version—a more acceptable jacket instead of an ostentatious magenta costume, but still nice to see.
A Red Herring?
The team are headed to an X-Men heavy location—we’ll get to that soon—but first Zemo says they’re going to meet Selby. This seems more than coincidental. In the X-Men comics, there’s a character called Selby who is part of the Mutant Liberation Front. That fits with the Madripoor location. And much more recently the comics featured a character called Suzanne Selby; she was briefly a new version of the hero known as Starbrand. She had a slight connection to Madripoor. Roxxon, who owned the factory where she worked before they moved to Madripoor, hired her. Madripoor… where our team is going. Long story short, now her daughter Brandy is the current Starbrand. But Selby’s fate in the episode proves she is not a major character.
Bucky Is Still Making Amends
Zemo has a look at Bucky’s little notebook. Turns out, it’s Steve’s old notebook. How cute! Anyway we get some more names on the other side of the page and we’re highlighting the ones that are character or creator nods. Including… Wolverine’s mom? We are going to Madripoor after all, and Bucky is very, very, very old.
Y. Nakajima: Bucky’s friend Yori whose son he killed
A. Claremont Windsor: Chris Claremont, X-Men icon; Barry Windsor-Smith, Wolverine icon
S. Whitaker: Potentially Steve Whitaker, a British Marvel creator
L. Hudson: Is this Wolverine’s mom, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hudson?
L. Atwood: Senator Atwood from the series premiere
C. Collins: Curly Collins, maybe? He only ever appeared the 1942 Marvel comic Two-Gun Kid #3.
So the crew is off to Madripoor! If you’re an X-Men or Wolverine fan, this was likely an exciting moment for you. It certainly was for us. It’s Wolverine’s home away from the X-Mansion in the comics. The enigmatic criminal underworld first appeared in New Mutants #32 and popped up in Captain America #363-364. Those Captain America issues include some very The Falcon and The Winter Soldier kind of stuff: Karl Malus, Power Broker, and the Super Soldier Serum. There’s even a Nomad connection, which makes us Karli Morganthau theorists very happy. Though, after the final act of the episode, who knows.
In response to the dramatic way Zemo and Bucky describe Madripoor, Sam says “You make it sound like Skull Island.” Aside from the obvious King Kong reference, this is probably a reference to how Captain America first met Sam on Red Skull’s “Exile Island” in the comics. Sam crash landed there, and Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube on him. It happens in Captain America #117; Captain America #186 features it in a flashback.
The Trauma Behind the Flag-Smashers
We join Karli at a sad moment. She has a dying relative or friend—it’s not clear which. On their heart monitor is the number 189. Captain America #189 is a Sam and Cap issue with a Baron Zemo hallucination and lots of Red Skull mind control. We also learn here that this woman may have been the leader or inspiration for the Flag Smashers. How do we know that? The Flag Smasher’s logo seemingly comes from a necklace that she had wrapped around her hand. While this is an emotional moment, it doesn’t really tell us much about the group or their aims. That’s all still murky.
Back to Madripoor
In Madripoor, Sam Wilson takes on the alias Conrad Mack, a.k.a. the Smiling Tiger. That’s a New Warriors villain who once stole the Quinjet in the comics. He was also briefly a member of the Thunderbolts, Zemo’s team. And he was also connected to the Folding Circle. We hear references to Hightown and Lowtown too. Both areas appear in Madripoor in the comics.
The Princess Bar
20th Century Studios
This bar gets its own header because it’s Wolverine’s number one hangout in Madripoor! When he’s living in the city under the alias Patch—wearing an eyepatch—this is where he’s usually found. Patch even co-owned the bar. It’s exciting to see a direct reference to somewhere so connected to X-lore, especially as Madripoor has a direct Captain America connection. They could have ignored the X-Men aspects.
Other Madripoor Moments
The Brass Monkey bar is taken directly from the Mark Gruenwald-era Captain America comics, specifically the aforementioned issue #363 set in Madripoor. (Fun fact: the bar was called the Bronze Monkey in issue #364.) In case you didn’t remember, Gruenwald co-created John Walker.
We also see some “Power Broker is watching” graffiti. There’s also a Glyphink sign. There’s a Marvel character called Glyph, and although this is probably a coincidence, it’s a fun one.
The Serpent Society
The bartender serves Sam a drink with a snake ingredient. Why is this relevant? Well, the Gruenwald Captain America stories in Madripoor are all about Cap going to save Diamondback, a member of the Serpent Society. That might seem like a reach until you see just how much snake art Madripoor has. Like… serpents everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled. Also, apparently Power Broker runs Madripoor. That’s interesting, but we still don’t know who they are. And the episode doesn’t reveal or really hint at Power Broker’s identity.
Truth: Red, White, and Black… Sort Of
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has hinted at Kyle Baker and Robert Morales’ iconic miniseries for the last couple of episodes. This week they add another key character, Dr. Wilfred Nagel. In the comics, Nagel was a World War II era doctor involved in Project Rebirth. Later, he was the man behind the horrific experiments on 300 Black soldiers, including Isaiah Bradley. Here he’s a youngish American… who worked with HYDRA to try and re-create the serum. He was behind the failed Super Soldier test subjects in Siberia during Civil War. But he cracked the code when he used Isaiah Bradley’s blood. It’s a big shift from the comics, but we’ll see where they go from here.
The Return of Agent 13
If you’d been wondering where Sharon Carter went post Civil War, now you know. Apparently Steve just abandoned her and she became a fugitive. She had to leave America and is now living in Madripoor as an art dealer. She’s also a proficient killer and murders a ton of henchies this episode, in exchange for which Sam promises her a pardon.
A Super Silly Super Soldier Theory
Dr. Nagel says he remade 20 vials of the serum. Since we’re in Madripoor, we’re veering into Wolverine territory. During Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, they revealed that Captain America was Weapon I, adding him to the numbered weapon program where Wolverine is Weapon X. So will Wolverine be a Super Soldier in the MCU?
If Cap was arguably the first and the Flag Smashers now count for eight more that means the next one who gets made would be the tenth… Weapon X? Even if it’s far-fetched, thinking of Wolverine is really exciting. Also, the numbered Weapon system makes sense in a more serious and grounded MCU type world.
A Familiar Name
In what is likely a random coincidence, we learn Karli’s now deceased friend goes by Donya Madani. One of the key characters in the Netflix Punisher series is Agent Dinah Madani. These two characters don’t seem to be related, but the surnames are spelled the same. And technically the Netflix shows are part of the MCU.
It seems like Donya was the origin of the Flag Smashers, so don’t be surprised if this becomes important at a later date. In a very vague conversation Karli hints that Donya was a mother figure to the Flag Smashers. It seems they were a found family who were evicted when the Blipped people returned. So they stole the Super Soldier Serum and became super soldiers. Intriguing.
Critics in Cars Reading Comics
There are two big license plate Easter eggs nods here. Early on when Bucky, Zemo, and Sam first meet the license plate includes 152. It’s surely a nod to Captain America #152. That is a Cap and Falcon issue with Sharon Carter.
Later on a license plate in Riga, we get the number 347. Captain America #347 is a John Walker issue where he fights Left-Winger and Right-Winger. Interestingly, at the end Walker leaves them to die in an explosion. That echoes Karli’s decision to bomb the GRC building.
And it’s not a car, but we’re throwing it in here. When John and Lemar are in the military offices looking mad, a 322 appears on-screen . It’s probably a reference to Captain America #322, a Steve Rogers versus Flag Smasher issue. This is the last issue before the arrival of Super-Patriot, a.k.a. John Walker.
A Cameo Worth Waiting For
While I might still be questioning the choice of a Zemo team-up, I was most pleased by the huge reveal at the end of the episode. It’s the Dora Milaje! Honestly, we don’t deserve them. In case you didn’t recognize her, it’s Ayo from Civil War. She happens to be the speaker of one of the MCU’s most iconic lines: “Move. Or you will be moved.”
And surprising no one, she’s there to find and capture Baron Zemo who killed their king.
New Creator Thanks
We love to see people get their due credit in these MCU projects. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier gets a ton of new Special Thanks this. While the show just lists the names of the creators, we have the names and the relevant characters they created and what they are likely being thanked for. The thanks for Mike Zeck and J.M. DeMatteis is especially interesting as Arnold Roth has long been an unsung hero of the MCU. Why? Well, Bucky’s entire backstory in the films is lifted from Cap’s gay friend Arnold.
Christopher Priest and Mark Teixeira: Dora Milaje
Mark Bagley and Fabian Nicieza: Smiling Tiger
Chris Claremont: Madripoor
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze: Ayo
Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada: Marvel Knights editors/Dora Milaje
Steve Leialoha: Karl Malus/Madripoor
Mike Zeck and J.M. DeMatteis: Arnold Roth
Roy Thomas and Tony Isabella: Helmut Zemo
Sal Buscema: Curtiss Jackson, a.k.a. Power Broker/Helmut Zemo