The new Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is clearly the legacy to the Captain America story, following the epilogue of Avengers: Endgame. An aged Steve Rogers handed over the shield to Sam Wilson. As the series opens, however, we learn that Sam Wilson is having second thoughts about holding on to it.
I felt the duty to compile this list of Easter Eggs every week for the next six weeks. I am the self-proclaimed biggest Cap fan of the HereBeGeeks team after all! And if you think I’ve missed out a reference, feel free to let me know as well.
POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING: If you want to enjoy The Falcon and the Winter Soldier fresh, don’t read on!
Episode 2: The Star Spangled Man
Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar
In the first 2 minutes of the episode, when Clé Bennett walks in with the nametag Hoskins on his Army uniform, I’m already squealing with excitement. Later in the episode, when he kicks Flag Smasher butt alongside John Walker’s Captain America (Wyatt Russell) I’m all in. Finally, when he introduces himself as Battlestar, my geekgasm is in overdrive.
Battlestar is one of those Captain America comic deep cuts that I never thought I’d see in the MCU. Lemar Hoskins was first introduced in Mark Gruenwald’s defining run on the title, and eventually became the partner of John Walker when the latter becomes Captain America. In the comics, Hoskins initially called himself Bucky, because Gruenwald was a well-meaning but ignorant white creator who was unaware of the racist usage of the term “buck” against African-Americans. When called out by the late, legendary creator Dwayne McDuffie, Gruenwald made it right by having Hoskins get a quick education about the name, and quickly got a new superhero name and outfit – Battlestar!
In the comics, one thing that set Hoskins apart was how he was taller than Walker. You can see it in the cover logo above. With Wyatt Russell being 6’1 (1.87m) tall, it’s hard to find someone taller than him, so at least they cast Bennett, who is 6′ (1.83m).
Interestingly enough, in the MCU, it appears Lemar Hoskins is a Sergeant Major in the US Army, while John Walker is a Captain. Subtle choice to make Hoskins an enlisted soldier, while Walker is an officer. Could be read multiple ways.
Star Spangled Man
Not just the episode’s title, “Star Spangled Man” is also the title of the song that the marching band is playing at the stadium in Custer’s Grove, Georgia where John Walker has his hometown interview with Good Morning America. The song was written by Disney legend Alan Menken and David Zippel (who also collaborated on 1997’s Hercules and its subsequent adaptations) for the movie Captain America: The First Avenger.
You can be sure that its use here is not a coincidence at all. It’s mean to evoke the exact same scene from The First Avenger, just feeling a little… off.
“I don’t have super strength”
John Walker tells GMA’s Sara Haines that “He’s not Tony Stark, he’s not Dr. Banner. I don’t have the flashiest gadgets, I don’t have super strength.” This last line is pretty massive foreshadowing, considering we’re quite sure the Power Broker is going to make an appearance sooner than later. We know Walker’s eventually going to want super strength in order to go toe to toe with the Flag Smashers.
Androids, aliens and wizards
The so-called “Big Three” get name-dropped in this episode – “androids, aliens and wizards” with Sam (Anthony Mackie) saying “Every time we fight, we fight one of the three!”. It’s a pretty funny exchange that also namedrops Gandalf and The Hobbit. However, Sam’s not wrong! In the MCU, the Avengers have fought a bunch of androids and aliens, including Ultron and the Iron Legion, as well as the Chitauri, the Outriders, the Black Order and of course Thanos himself.
Curiously, the “Big Three” is also a term to refer to Iron Man, Captain America and Thor in Marvel Comics (while DC’s Big Three are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman). Considering Iron Man could be mistaken for an android, and Thor is an alien, you could say Cap was being powered by the magic of science… okay that’s a stretch and I regret typing any of it.
Plans and planes
What is it with plans and jumping out of planes? These tropes find their origin in the 2012 Avengers movie, after Thor “rescues” Loki. Steve goes “Stark, we need a plan of attack!” and Stark replies, “I have a plan… attack!” before leaping out of the plane. At least Steve dons a parachute before jumping after him. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he doesn’t even need one when he leaps out of a plane in the opening act.
This episode makes a fun callback to those scenes with Bucky saying “Steve had a plan!” and Sam retorting “I have a plan” before jumping out of the plane. Meanwhile Bucky is looking for a parachute, but Torres tells him they’re flying too low for one to be useful, so Bucky ends up diving without one, just like Steve did.
Another reference to the movies comes when Bucky challenges Walker “You ever jump on top of a grenade?”, which recalls that famous scene in Captain America: The First Avenger. To which Walker responds, “Yeah. Actually I have. Four times.”
GRC – the Global Repatriation Council
Now this isn’t an Easter Egg per se, but after all the subtle references to the GRC in the credits, it’s nice to finally establish what it stands for and represents – the Global Repatriation Council. Their job? “Reactivating citizenship, social security, healthcare… managing resources for the refugees who were displaced by the return.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was meant to discuss the consequences of the Blip but it’s quite impressive to see it framed as repatriation for refugees. This is a much bigger political discussion than I expected from the MCU, so kudos.
In contrast, the supposed inclusivity of “One World, One People” touted by the Flag Smashers is undermined when Karli reveals her bigotry. “The GRC care more about the people who came back than the ones who never left,” she says in private.
Isaiah and Eli Bradley
Arguably the biggest reveal of this episode is that of Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), one of the first black Super Soldiers in the MCU. He encountered Bucky as the Winter Soldier in 1951, during the Korean War and was more than a match for him, ripping out half of his metal arm. However, despite being a war hero he would later be jailed for 30 years, and treated like a guinea pig, leaving him extremely bitter and angry.
This has parallels with his comic book counterpart, who was also incarcerated. However, in the comic series Truth: Red, White and Black, this imprisonment, coupled with the side effects of the incomplete Super Soldier Serum, led to Isaiah’s mind deteriorating and reverting to a childlike state. Thankfully, this aspect wasn’t portrayed in the MCU version, and I hope that allows for a storyline with more gravity.
We are also introduced to his grandson Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson), which is huge! In the comics, Eli takes on the moniker Patriot and is one of the co-founders of the Young Avengers.
Notably, the MCU versions of Isaiah and Eli live in Baltimore, Maryland – which is another conscious decision to move the MCU away from being New York-centered (Sam Wilson’s hometown in the comics was Harlem, but in the MCU it’s Delacroix, Louisiana).
The credits also pay special thanks to the late Robert Morales and Kyle Baker, who created Isaiah Bradley, as well as the team of Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, who created Eli Bradley and the rest of the Young Avengers. This will be the second time Heinberg and Cheung have gotten a “Special Thanks” credit! Their first was in WandaVision, when the characters of Billy and Tommy became teens in Episode 7.
Episode 1: New World Order
First Lieutenant Torres (Danny Ramirez) never reveals his first name in the episode. In the credits, he is called Joaquin Torres. This is a significant revelation! In the Captain America: Sam Wilson comic series, where Sam takes on the mantle of Captain America, it is Torres that takes his place to become the new Falcon. Expect Torres to be a significant presence for the remaining 5 episodes! Torres’ creators Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña get namedropped in the credits, and Ramirez gets his own credits frame as well.
Retired MMA champion Georges St-Pierre reprises his role as Georges Batroc in the opening scene of this episode. We first saw Batroc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where he proved to be a formidable match for Steve Rogers. In the first episode, the Falcon thwarts his plan to kidnap a US military liaison, but not without difficulty. St-Pierre gets his own frame in the credits, so I imagine Batroc’s not entirely done with the series.
The name Flag-Smasher refers to an individual Cap villain, Karl Morgenthau, who was the head of the terrorist group U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. (almost every organisation at Marvel is an acronym). In the MCU, it appears U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. has been renamed Flag-Smashers, and Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) is their leader. I expect that particular revelation is meant to be a surprise, though!
We are never officially introduced to Karli, but she’s the one keeping a lower profile by handing out masks outside of the Gasel Bank. Instead, Torres identifies Dovich (Desmond Chiam) as the “leader” of the Flag-Smashers. Other members of the group appear to be Gigi (Dani Deetté) and DeeDee (Indya Bussey). Only Kellyman gets a frame in the credits.
The Flag-Smashers are a major part of the credits sequence, with many images calling for “One World, One People”. The same slogan can be found in multiple languages including Tagalog! “Isang Mundo, Isang Tao” can be found on a postcard of Madripoor.
Man on the Wall
In arguably the deepest cut of deep cuts, Torres talks about a conspiracy theory that Steve Rogers is on a “secret base on the moon, looking down over us”. Most people would generally think this is a reference to Uatu the Watcher, which is fair. After all, Uatu will be voiced by Jeffrey Wright in the upcoming animated series What If…?. In my opinion? This is probably a shout out to the lesser-known “Man on the Wall”.
Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato established this role in the 2014 crossover event “Original Sin”. Nick Fury revealed himself as Earth’s last line of defense from the threats of space. Calling himself “the invisible monster who keeps the other monsters at bay”. At the end of the event, Fury’s chose Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, as his replacement. Bucky’s adventures as the “Man on the Wall” continue in the very polarising 11-issue series Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier by Ales Kot, Marco Rudy and Langdon Foss.
The addition of James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to the cast was a very late announcement. It’s great to see Rhodey right there with Sam when the latter returns the shield to the Smithsonian. Cheadle naturally gets last billing in the credits, so expect him to continue to be an integral part of the show.
Superfan Aloysius Low also spotted this cool detail!
War Machine’s creators David Michelinie, John Byrne and Bob Layton are all mentioned in the credits. So perhaps his presence in this series will set up the events of upcoming Disney+ series Armor Wars?
The Smithsonian Exhibit
The Captain America exhibit seems is such a treasure trove of references, but most of which should be familiar with MCU fans. It essentially recounts the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. However, there’s a wall of images which is pretty fascinating since it blends real posters from World War II. We see the Uncle Sam recruitment poster. We also see a poster that says “I Pledge Allegiance and Silence about the war”. Then there are the faux war posters done for The First Avenger, including a piece by Alex Ross.
And last but definitely not least, the real-life comic book cover of Captain America Comics #1 from 1941! It’s conveniently cropped to remove the Bucky reference, which is amusing to no end.
There are a bunch of names in Bucky’s notebook that he has to make amends to. Most would be drawn to “H. Zemo” and think it refers to Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl reprising his role from Captain America: Civil War). That said, the Zemo family in the comics are quite fond of first names that start with “H”, so it’ll be interesting to see if this is just a fun Easter Egg or if it’ll lead to something more.
Another comic book name is A. Rostov, which may be a reference to Andre Rostov – a minor villain introduced in the 60’s but brought back to prominence thanks to Bucky’s retcon as the Winter Soldier.
The name “L. Kaminski” could be a reference to legendary comic book creator Len Kaminski, who among other things co-created Iron Man’s Model 11 armour, better known as War Machine. Kaminski had a relatively long tenure on Iron Man in the 90’s, writing #278 to #318.
Another legendary comic book creator reference? “A. Claremont” which is only seen after it is revealed that as the Winter Soldier, Bucky killed his friend Yori Nakajima’s son. This is quite possibly a reference to Chris Claremont, who is most well-known for his iconic X-Men run, but could also be a hint of the upcoming visit to the fictional South-East Asian city-state, Madripoor, one of many enduring Claremont creations.
Several comic creators are thanked in the credits, namely: Daniel Acuña, John Byrne, Mark Gruenwald, Bob Layton, David Michelinie, Tom Morgan, Paul Neary and Nick Spencer.
As mentioned earlier:
- Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña are the creators of Joaquin Torres in the pages of Captain America: Sam Wilson,
- David Michelinie, John Byrne and Bob Layton are the creators of James Rhodes,
- Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary are the creators of John Walker, the future USAgent
But why is Tom Morgan in the credits? My guess would be because Morgan is credited for designing the black and white costume of The Captain, which was first worn by Steve Rogers and subsequently worn by Walker when he becomes the USAgent. Morgan took over the art duties from Neary for Gruenwald’s epic run on Captain America, right at the start of the classic storyline “The Captain” when Steve Rogers resigns as Cap and Walker is chosen as the replacement, which I highly suspect is the inspiration for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
We’ve mentioned the credits of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier throughout this article but the Easter eggs simply don’t stop coming.
Eagle-eyed Charles Murphy of Murphy’s Multiverse spotted the appearance of genre legend Carl Lumbly in the credits, which lends a lot of credence to the theory that Lumbly has been cast as Isaiah Bradley, who in the comics is the first Black Captain America.
Unfortunately Bradley received it in heinous circumstances, as scientists attempted to recreate the Super-Soldier formula after the death of its creator, Dr. Abraham Erskine by testing it on African-American soldiers in a parallel to the real-life horrors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
Isaiah Bradley was created by the late, great Robert Morales and Kyle Baker in the 2003 series Truth: Red, White and Black. Showrunner Malcolm Spellman has been telling everyone that Truth has been a big inspiration for the events of the series, so there’s definitely an opportunity to really dive deep into the role of African-Americans in the military.
Another reveal in the credits is the presence of the POWERBROKER. This name should be familiar to any fan of John Walker, the USAgent, as it is the source of his superhuman abilities.
In the comics, Power Broker Inc. is led by Curtiss Jackson and Dr. Karl Malus, villains who develop a drug treatment to become superhumanly strong. The catch was that the treatment wouldn’t work on everyone, resulting in hideous deformities. Even for those who did get abilities, the treatment would be extremely addictive, forcing all their clients to still remain reliant on them.
John Walker is one of those clients, and if the POWERBROKER is showing up in the credits, it would appear they mean to keep pretty close to that origin story.
The remaining Easter eggs in the credits are subtle references to Captain America: Civil War, such as the date and time that the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents (i.e. 16th December 1991, 7pm) as well as the codewords to activate the Winter Soldier programming.