John Walker: The Dark Captain America

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Before anyone Continues reading this, Huge Spoiler Warning for MCU Captain America Disney+ series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

By the time I am writing this, The Falcon and Winter Soldier has only 4 episodes released. The first three episodes were meandering in my opinion. But by the end of episode 4, I was hooked. And there was a character who got me really interested in future episodes. And it one of the fans’ most hated characters. I am speaking about John Walker, the new Captain America.

John Walker, the new Cap.

The Dark Parallels

John Walker is presented to us as a dark reflection of Steve Rogers. Just like Steve, he wants to do the right thing. As mentioned in Episode 2, Walker is trying his best to hold up the ideals set by Steve.

Both are propped up by the US government as a mascot. And both are always itching to go into action so that they can help people.

Steve Rogers being used as a Mascot for WW2
John Walker Acting as a Mascot for the Government

Barring that, there are even more parallels. Both Steve and Walker see their best friends and partners, Bucky and Lemar respectively, die in front of them. Even though Bucky was later found to be alive.

Steve Rogers seeing Bucky “die”
Walker witnessing his best friend die

Both confront the people who tried to kill them and their friends. And both smash their shields on that person. This is not completely a parallel but both run and fight through the streets of a European nation to save or Avenge their friend.

Steve slamming his shield on Tony
Walker slamming his shield on a Flag Smasher

Being the Little guy

But the differences between Walker and Steve are also worth mentioning. Walker is a soldier who is quite exceptional at that role. He has many accolades, even being the first person to have three medals of honor. And the way he uses the shield is pretty damn impressive. Also, Walker is said to be a human specimen at its peak.

John Walker shown to be in peak human condition

Steve was never like that; he was a weak skinny guy before he got the serum. Steve knew what it was like to the weak guy in the room and he always stood his ground no matter what. Steve Rogers was not defined by his physical capabilities. But rather his will and his drive to help the little guy. Walker seemingly never had that.

Steve standing up no matter what

How the Serum changes them both

As mentioned in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Serum not only enhances one’s body but rather amplifies all the mental aspects too. This works in the favor of Steve as his inherent will and his drive to help the little guy has only been enhanced. Even when Steve is surrounded by literal gods and monsters he was not perturbed but rather calm and accepting of it. He knew what it is to be the little guy and he knows that he is gonna stand his ground no matter what.

Steve still not giving up even against one of the most powerful beings in the universe

Unlike Steve, Walker never knew what it is like to be the little guy. As mentioned, he was at peak human condition. And once he is thrown into this world of superheroes he is baffled. He is insecure and unsure as he is beaten down by Super Soldiers and The Dora Milaje. That makes him feel emasculated when he surrounded by guys who are stronger than him. He wants to do the right thing but he is clouded by this insecurity. This insecurity seemingly stems from the fact that he was always the most physically capable person in the room before he became Captain America.

Walker feeling emasculated after being thoroughly defeated by the Dora Milaje

All of this insecurity leads to him taking the Super Soldier Serum. And as mentioned the serum also enhances one’s characteristics and we can see what happened to John when he finally takes the serum in Episode 4.

And speaking about parallels, here is where the main differences between both of them are seen. What do each of the Captains do when they are angry and unhinged? While trying to save Bucky from an angry Tony Stark, Steve smashed his shield down on a defiant Iron man. But he does not do it to kill Tony Stark but rather to stop his suit. After that Steve leaves the shield and just goes away leaving the guy who tried to kill his best friend to live another day.

Steve leaving Tony and abandoning the shield

John Walker, on the other hand, confronts a man who was tangentially involved in the death of this beat friend. And beats him up even as he is surrendering and begging him to stop. He slams down the shield on him and even though not seen, it is implied that he decapitated him with the shield. And unlike Steve, he just picks up the bloody shield and straps it on. Leaving us with a chilling image of Captain America carrying a bloodied shield over a dead man.

John Walker strapping the Bloody shield back on over the body of the man he murdered

Now Walker is similar to Captain America with the power of the Super Soldier serum and his skill with the shield. But as showrunners show us, he is far from coming close to the standards of the ideals Steve Rogers set for being Captain America.

My Thoughts

This episode finally got me invested into the show. The first 3 Episodes felt a bit meandering but the 4th episode brings all those plots together. It is not the same intrigue one got from trying to figure out WandaVision. But this show is pretty damn good in its own way. Along with Walker, we have interesting storylines with Zemo and his commitment again Supers Soldiers, how Sam is growing to be the perfect Cap, Bucky trying to deal with his past as the Winter Soldier, and the extreme but sympathizable Flag Smashers.

I have not mentioned it before as the article was about John Walker, but the only person in the show trying to solve this peacefully is Sam. He is the only one who wants to talk down the antagonists, he is the only person who tries to understand everyone’s motivations so that he can reason with them. All this points to the fact that Steve Rogers did chose the next Captain America pretty damn perfectly.

My only complaint of the show till now is both the title characters, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier don’t have much to do in comparison to the other characters. It is even joked in the 4th episode that Zemo is the one getting the most done as others just follow him, which is kinda true. But I am excited for the next two episodes as I want to see how these storylines collide and expand.

Overall I can say that John Walker the new Captain America is a polarizing but interesting character and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows us how he is a dark reflection of Steve Rogers. And I would be more than happy if he gets a Disney+ Series to himself after this.

WandaVision is streaming on Disney+
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+


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