Who is USAgent in Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Not Your Standard Captain America
At the end of the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson watched in tears as some stranger debuted as the new Captain America, holding Steve Rogers’ shield. The new cap, John Walker, looks at the camera, winks, and the credits start. While new to the MCU, Walker has a rich history in Marvel Comics. So, who is the USAgent, and why is he a good character for Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
Before the Falcon or the Winter Soldier and Even Before the USAgent, there was the Super-Patriot.
Yeah, he had a torch sword. And throwing stars. It was the 80s. (Image: Captain America (Vol 1) #327, Marvel Comics)
In the 1970s and 80s, Captain America reached his limits of what he would do on behalf of the country. Eventually, when Cap discovered that Nixon was a member of the Secret Empire, he gave up the shield and became Nomad. Before long, he was faced with missions that compromised his ideologies. He turned in his shield and uniform, took a black and red costume similar to his old suit’s design, and a shield to match. But the country, the government decided, still needed a Captain America. So, just like they did in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they hired John Walker, but he wasn’t USAgent yet.
At first, Walker was the villain Super-Patriot. Co-creator Marc Gruenwald wanted to “better define what Captain America the concept is by seeing someone groping, trying to live up to it, trying to grasp all the facets of the concept.” The idea started when Gruenwald’s bestselling cover featured Captain America with a machine gun. As a result, fans wanted a, as Gruenwald put it, “Rambo-ized” Cap. But that contradicted everything Cap stood up for.
Yeah, this is wrong. (Image: Captain America (Vol 1) #321, Marvel Comics)
The result was the first patriotic villain, Super-Patriot. As Gruenwald described him:
“Basically, I just wanted to do the opposite of Steve Rogers. Okay, Steve Rogers is a poor northern urban boy. So I’ll make a guy from rural middle class south. Cap is now old, so this guy’ll be a real young up-and-comer. Cap has lofty ideals, so I’ll make Super-Patriot be more realistic and more pragmatic. So, I put together his background and character traits by playing the opposite game.”
From Super-Patriot to Captain America, the USAgent Slowly Changes
One of the best Captain America covers ever. (Image: Captain America (Vol 1) #350, Marvel Comics)
Gruenwald’s character arch for John Walker arch from villain to an imposter, to superhero, spanned over three years. After a brief time in the military, Walker was upset that he never got a chance to prove his heroism, as his brother did in Vietnam. At this point, the Power Broker offered him the same abilities as Steve Rogers. His ultimate goal was to replace Steve and become the new symbol of America. For a while, he kept challenging Cap, but Steve never agreed. So, what does he do? Attack Cap, of course.
However, it’s not an easy fight for either of them. When Walker manages to draw blood, he claims victory and runs off.
But then he does something really different – something heroic. When Walker stops a supervillain from detonating a nuke at the Washington monument, he gains the American people’s trust. At this point, Steve becomes the Captain, and the government needs a new Captain America. Since the Winter Soldier doesn’t exist yet, and they feel that the country isn’t ready for a black Captain America in the Falcon, the soon-to-be USAgent wins the role. But if he thought he could just be Captain America, he was very wrong.
John Walker Becomes the USAgent, and Like the Falcon and Winter Soldier, Gains Steve’s Trust – But At a Great Cost
He’s the hero, right? (Image: USAgent #1, Marvel Comics)
Walker really tried to emulate Steve, but he keeps getting more and more violent, killing his suspects rather than subduing them. Because of his actions, a group of terrorists called Watchdogs murder his parents. To make matters worse, the Commission overseeing Captain America makes him miss his parents’ funeral, resulting in the USAgent suffering a mental breakdown.
He sets off on a rampage against the Watchdogs and the people who outed his identity. During his attack, the villain Flag-Smasher (which is instead a group in Falcon and the Winter Soldier) abduct the USAgent. But who saves the substitute Captain America? Well, obviously, The Captain. Finally, during a confrontation with the Red Skull, Walker and Rogers team up and defeat the classic villain.
But the USAgent realized that the shield belonged to Steve, just as the Falcon determined in the first episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. When the US government wants Steve to return, he initially refuses, but Walker talks him into it. He’s done being Captain America. It was never a role he was suited for, even if the suit literally fit.
However, there were still a LOT of Watchdogs out for revenge. Using that, Walker fakes his death and takes a new identity. And in one of those “really?” moments, he changed his name to “Jack Daniels.” But he also wants to continue being a superhero. So, he became the USAgent – but will he get that chance in Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Considering that Hawkeye will spin off into the deaf superhero Echo Disney+ series, it wouldn’t be surprising if USAgent did too.
Or maybe Baron Zemo will kill him next episode.
What USAgent Stories to Read While Watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
A psychopath with snark. (Image: John Walker: USAgent #1, Marvel Comics)
Obviously, the best place to start is with the graphic novel collection Captain America: The Captain. You might not see much of the Falcon, or any of the Winter Soldier, but this has the complete arch. To really get a sense of USAgent after The Captan, check out USAgent: The Good Fight. This collection includes his two miniseries. If USAgent does become a breakout character from Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the writers and showrunners will likely look at these stories for inspiration.
USAgent also served on several teams. But while he was a member of the West Coast Avengers, his story generally ran as the B-plot. However, Dan Slott’s Mighty Avengers run included some great (and horrifically tragic) moments for the character, as did Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers.
Finally, just last year, legendary writer Christopher Priest and artist Georges Jeanty started a new USAgent miniseries, which will conclude in April. The release of USAgent: Zealot obviously coincides with the release of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, suggesting that he will indeed have a bigger role in the series.
Speculating USAgent’s Role in Flacon and the Winter Soldier
He’s going to feel really bad when he finds out he beat up the wrong Cap! (Image: Captain America (Vol 1) #348, Marvel Comics)
Like many Avenger characters, USAgent started as a villain, and it looks like he’s filling that role in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But how long he’ll be a villain remains a mystery. Wyatt Russell’s introduction was perfect. He has that smarmy charm that anyone emulating Steve would mistakenly try. And he looks like the “all-American” hero, which, for this society, is a white male. This persona is perfect for hiding his homicidal maniac side, which we will probably see if he sticks around long enough.
Another possibility is that he’s a red herring. Remember in all the Deadpool 2 trailers, we had Shatterstar and other new heroes in all kinds of cool fight scenes, but then they died within 2 minutes? It feels like that might be possible here. His introduction was so grand, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zemo quickly kills USAgent in the next episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
And now, as our Podcast extraordinaire Shah Shahid likes to say, I’m going to put on my tin foil hat and theorize wildly. During the scene with the Flag-smashers, one of the masked terrorists beats the crap out of Falcon’s military friend. But he also showed that he has super strength like Steve did. I’m going to call it. That guy and USAgent are the same person in Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
But I was also on the multiverse Quicksilver, and Mephisto is coming trains, so maybe don’t follow my record. Do you want to see more USAgent in Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Or do you want Zemo to hurry up and kill this fake-Cap?
(Featured Image: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney+)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.