Why Falcon & Winter Soldier Star Worried He Was The New Captain America

Much like one of the eponymous heroes, Wyatt Russell was worried about being the new Captain America for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Russell starred in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series as John Walker, a decorated captain of the U.S. Army Rangers who is hired by the government to take up the mantle of Captain America after Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson elects to retire the title and the iconic vibranium shield. Walker comes into conflict with Sam and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes as they fight the Flag Smashers around the globe, believing himself to be a better Cap than Chris Evans' Steve Rogers.


Alongside Mackie, Stan and Russell, the cast for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier included Erin Kellyman, Danny Ramirez, Georges St-Pierre, Adepero Oduye and the returns of Don Cheadle's Rhodey, Daniel Brühl's Helmut Zemo and Emily VanCamp's Sharon Carter. Having premiered in early 2021, the series scored largely positive reviews from critics, with praise directed towards the chemistry between Mackie and Stan as well as Russell's performance, action sequences and social commentary. Despite much of its cast receiving acclaim, one star was initially hesitant to join The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Related: How Phase 5 Can Redeem Bucky’s Wasted Winter Soldier Storyline

In a recent interview with Collider, Wyatt Russell reflected on his MCU tenure with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Russell recalls initially being worried about being the new Captain America and was hesitant to audition for the series, though later felt comfortable when it was explained how his character was different from Chris Evans' hero. See what Russell shared below:

"I feel like every actor says this, but at first, I was very hesitant. If you were a fan of Lodge 49, you weren’t going, 'This guy’s gonna play Captain America.' I had that same reaction. I was like, 'Are you sure you guys want me to play Captain America?' You don’t know what you’re auditioning for, so I was like, 'Okay, I’ll go in and audition and see what it is if I get it.' And then, I got it and I was like, 'Okay, cool. Who am I playing?' I had a meeting with Kari Skogland and Zoie Nagelhout at Marvel, and they showed me a picture of Captain America. At first, I was like, 'Oh, my God.' Captain America is a very difficult character to play because his moral compass is always pointing north. It’s a difficult character to pull off. And when you have somebody who was so good at it, just do it, who’s so beloved, you’re going, 'I don’t wanna play that guy. That’s impossible shoes to fill. No. No way. I’m just not your guy.' And then, they were like, 'No, no, no, it’s this other character.' He turns into this anti-Captain America and bizarro world Captain America. As we started talking about it, I was like, 'Okay, I can have some ownership over this character because I can make it what I want, in certain ways.'"

Wyatt Russell as John Walker in Falcon and Winter Soldier

Interestingly, Russell's hesitation to join The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as the new Captain America fits well with one of the show's major themes. The series largely explored Sam's difficulty with Rogers passing on the Cap moniker to him at the end of Avengers: Endgame and subsequent issues accepting Walker taking on the role as he proved a more ruthless and unwavering government agent. Marvel head Kevin Feige even explained that the idea to cast Russell as the new Captain America for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stemmed from one of the show's concepts in which the government isn't comfortable with a Black man taking up the moniker, which was further explored via Isaiah Bradley and his dark history as a super soldier during the Korean War and subsequent experiments and cover-ups by the government.

Luckily for both MCU fans and Russell, Walker wouldn't retain the Captain America title for long in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier after his brutal murder of a Flag Smasher was caught on camera. He would subsequently be stripped of the moniker and would later be hired by Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and given the new title of U.S. Agent, potentially leading to his future in the Thunderbolts film, given he was the leader of the supervillain-turned-superhero team in one version of the comics. Audiences can revisit Russell's time as Walker with the entirety of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming on Disney+ now.