The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone a long way to rectifying its villain problem over the last few years, moving away from a series of underdeveloped antagonists that were largely either one-dimensional shady businessmen in suits or CGI creations with CGI henchmen to deliver threats with a bit of substance to their motivations, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s John Walker is arguably the most well-rounded bad guy we’ve seen from the franchise since Black Panther‘s Killmonger.
He doesn’t want to destroy the world or assume any great levels of power, and he’s technically not even the show’s big bad with the Flag Smashers the ones driving the plot forward, but fans can’t stand the guy. It’s a testament to both his arc and Wyatt Russell’s performance, because at the end of the day, Walker is just a man trying to do the job he was told to do.
The government tasked him to be the new Captain America, and he knows full well he’ll never be Steve Rogers, so he’s gone about his business in a slightly different fashion. Taking the super soldier serum and bludgeoning a man to death in full view of the public wasn’t a wise move, but it’s one he believes was fully justified.
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In a new interview, Russell admitted that one of the major reasons behind his decision to join the MCU was that he knew fans were going to detest Walker, and he was excited by the possibility of playing in some gray areas.
“It’s partly why I liked it. People were going to hate it. I knew it. That’s the reason you do it. That’s the point. You elicit that response and it’s like, ‘Great, it’s working’. I’m the kind of person where the gray area is a place that you must live. If you don’t live there, you’re going to have a very difficult time in your life trying to figure out who you are, because you’re limiting the kinds of questions you can ask yourself and ask others. What this character hopefully brings to people is the idea that there’s a gray area in him, and that in life, there’s gray areas all around us every day.”
The actor was clueless about the MCU’s extensive lore when he first boarded The Falcon and the Winter Solider, but this week’s surprise cameo and post-credits scene both hinted that he’s still dead set on retaining his status as Captain America by any means necessary.