The falcon and the winter soldier Episode 3, “The Power Broker,” finds our heroes underwater as they research the mystery of a new wave of super sera. What Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes continue to discover is that the Marvel Universe – and this alternate version of the United States – has a dark history and everything is tied to their personal needs. Recruiting Baron Zemo to aid the investigation forces Falcon to face his role in the Avengers’ vigilante tactics. Bucky cannot escape his life in the Winter Soldier program that is haunted by victims of his brainwashing activities. But the end of Episode 3 provided an incentive for a more direct link to previous Marvel films.
[Ed. note: This story contains major spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier through “The Power Broker.”]
The final scene of “The Power Broker” drew a line The falcon and the winter soldier to Black Pantheris sprawling (and mostly unused while we wait Black panther 2) Mythology. The familiar face of Wakanda, who appears in the Disney Plus series, once again forces fans to look to the past and the future.
Who was that Black Panther character at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
After learning of Donya Madani’s death, an interested woman connected to flag destroyer Karli Morgenthau, Sam, Bucky and Zemo rerouted the course to Riga to investigate. There, Bucky retires to pursue his own lead – which turns out to be nothing more than T’Challa’s former Dora Milaje bodyguard Ayo (played again by actress Florence Kasumba).
“I was wondering when you would show up,” says Bucky.
She gives a no-bullshit answer: “I’m here about Zemo.”
Ayo first appeared in Captain America: Civil WarProtection of T’Challa’s father T’Chaka during the ratification of the Sokovia Agreement in Vienna. But that’s where Zemo started his master plan to frame Bucky and instigate fights between the Avengers. Using a well-placed bomb, the criminal mastermind murdered T’Chaka and provoked T’Challa for the first time (in the visible MCU). By the end of the film, Zemo almost ends his own life and takes revenge on Tony Stark, Steve Roger and the rest of the crew who devastated Sokovia. But before he can escape the mortal shell, T’Challa steps in to serve justice. With Zemo now out of jail and in anti-hero mode, it makes sense that he is on Wakanda’s radar and that the Dora Milaje wants to bring him back in.
Bucky’s past with Ayo and Wakanda
In a crucial after-credits scene in Civil warBucky finds solace as the “white wolf” of Wakanda. Although the kingdom was previously hunted by T’Challa, it opens arms for the winter soldier to heal into something that resembles a normal human.
Bucky owes it all to Wakanda, and if that fleeting episode cap contains a sense of indebtedness, that’s why. Movie viewers had only half the story: In a real synergistic way, Bucky’s recovery from his days as a winter soldier in 2018 was recorded Avengers: Infinity War Tie comic, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude. Shuri played a key role. It was a whole thing that happened off-screen. Ayo was probably there.
The clever part of connecting with Black Panther
In addition to the literal lore that makes it possible to grind Ayo into the events of The falcon and the winter soldier It’s so satisfying that the show’s collision with Wakanda has thematic resonance. This is a Marvel series that directly engages races in America and class struggles around the world, as creator Malcom Spellman said in our recent interview:
It was pretty obvious to Sam that his character first had to deal with the stars and stripes on the shield in two ways. Number one, the loss of a dear friend and those huge shoes that anyone who picked up that coat had to fill. And if that is other than black man, is it even appropriate to have this symbol? This symbol means something very different in Sam’s hands than it does in Steve’s.
The pain of tragedy reverberates on “The Power Broker,” with the discovery of Dr. Wilfred Nagel’s CIA-enabled super soldier experiments and further explanation of what happened to Isaiah Bradley, the elderly black man in episode 2, are infractions that are directly related to identity, and they even extend to the work that the flag- Smashers perform to prevent injustices in their own communities. Wakanda is a fascinating slide for the experience, a previously isolated African nation still grappling with what happens when they look the other way. In a way, the penetrating commentary of Black Pantherand the logical concerns of his villain Erik Killmonger prepared the MCU to take an even harder look inside The falcon and the winter soldier.
Ayo is a great “oh hey!” Fan-service moment for the Disney Plus series, but with great potential to be something more – a connection to the past and a conflict with the present.