'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Showrunner Talks Sam Wilson's Future

And that Sharon Carter twist.

sam wilson captain America
Disney+

This post contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Almost immediately after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended its run on Disney+, a (wholly unsurprising) report came out that showrunner Malcolm Spellman would be tackling a fourth Captain America movie, this one starring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, who assumed the shield in the series' finale. In (similarly unsurprising fashion) Spellman was mum on whether he's officially working on the film when Thrillist got a chance to speak with him via Zoom this week. 

Nevertheless, Spellman, formerly of Empire, has very clear ideas about where he wants Sam Wilson's Cap to go, at least thematically, and shared those with us, along with other tidbits about the making of the series. He also has some thoughts for those Sharon Carter fans who are frustrated with her villainous turn as the mysterious Power Broker. 

The second of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Disney+ shows concludes by changing its title, morphing it from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to Captain America and the Winter Soldier. In the finale, Sam has fully assumed the role of Cap, helping stop Karli Morgenthau's (Erin Kellyman) plan to attack the Global Repatriation Council while also negotiating a fairer deal with those government officials for the refugees Karli's Flag Smashers were trying to help. Spellman opened up as far as how some of the MCU sausage gets made, as well as where Sam's Cap stands for future installments.  

Thrillist: The news came out shortly after the finale that you were going to be writing a Cap 4, did you always know in constructing The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that it was going to be leading into a Cap movie for Sam? 

Malcolm Spellman: Not only did I not always know that, I technically don't even know if there's going to be a Cap 4, let alone me involved in it, despite what the internet is saying. That's how much I didn't know. 

Sounds good. In constructing the ending of the series, what threads did you want to leave hanging open? You had to build to Sam becoming Cap, but do you see the stories of Sharon Carter of Valentina continuing? 

First for the five leads—Walker, Sam, Bucky, Sharon, and Zemo—we wanted them to enter with one identity as far as MCU and the fans and everything, and leave it with a new identity. I believe they all have been re-conceptualized. I think Sharon in particular, because I caught a little bit of heat in terms of Sharon, I would argue that if you're really a Sharon fan, there's way more to do with her now because of the journey she's been on. 

Heat because she's the Power Broker and making these back door deals? In her last shot she's saying something surreptitious on the phone. 

Yes. It's not like we just imposed that on Sharon. The idea was: What is the most interesting story for Sharon Carter, beginning with the last time we saw her and really paid attention to her? Well, in Civil War she became an outcast and she probably has been disavowed by every major intelligence agency in America and they are probably hunting her and forcing her to use her skills just to survive and you track all that and next thing you know she pops up in Madripoor and she's running shit. That happened naturally. That's organic. 

Isaiah Bradley is a big topic to cover and something the MCU really hasn't dug into in a serious way before. How did you want to incorporate it into this story and you see this last moment with him as the last time the MCU is going to tackle this story? Or is there hope it may be able to do more with his legacy? 

The story isn't going anywhere and Isaiah isn't going anywhere. Marvel isn't usually in the habit of just discarding characters. So I don't know what's going to happen with him but I assume he will live on. The main thing we wanted to do with Isaiah is honor him and at no point undermine his point of view because he is the truth and his episode is called "Truth" and the book he came from is called Truth and what he embodies is a very real thing. Sam needed to be challenged with that if he was going to become Cap because that is a part of it if you have a Black man carrying the stars and stripes. 

What are your greatest hopes for Sam's Cap going forward? 

I hope he will continue to be a man of the people in a very unique way in that Sam's true superpower is that he is Black from the South, identifies as such and therefore a huge part of his identity is an awareness a struggle, an institutional struggle. I think if most of the people in the world feel like they're struggling you now have a Captain America who is uniquely qualified and modern to interact, to interface with the world. As soon as you see him, as much as you see that red, white, and blue you see that Black skin and you know he can see eye to eye with you on whatever you are struggling with it. 

sharon carter
Disney+

Kevin Feige has said that some of these series are structured to have second seasons and that some are a one-and-done situation. Did you expect to continue these stories in another season or medium? 

My goal was to tell one story that was a complete story and hopefully position the characters who are in the story in a way that they felt fresh and ready to move forward into the future. That was the main goal. I never ever thought about a season two or a movie or anything like that. 

The MCU has big plans. Were there characters you knew you needed to incorporate like Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

As far as I know, they don't do that. They want you first and foremost to tell the best story you can and then they see how the story you've already told can fit into the greater puzzle that is the MCU. For example, Madripoor started off as a city based on a real place where the restaurants sell endangered species and there's an open gun bazaar. Once we created a city like that they are looking through their metric of what they're going to be doing in the future, like, "Oh, what if that city was Madripoor?" So it was a perfect match. Same thing with Val, same thing with the Contessa. She started off as just sort of a shady ass CIA type and they said, "What if it's Val?"

So you had an idea of a character that wasn't specifically Valentina, and they suggested bringing her on? 

If they just let you create, they know someone in the Marvel universe is going to match what you're creating.

What was your reaction upon getting Julia Louis-Dreyfus? 

Because I used to work in comedy I'm probably a bigger Julia Louis-Dreyfus fan than anyone else at Marvel, and they all loved her. I think she's a genius so I was over the moon when I heard about that. 

Where did you want to leave the relationship between Bucky and Sam? 

I feel very satisfied that once they got over all their issues, they are family in a way that it feels like will last forever in the MCU. You could imagine in any given Marvel project Sam's coming home after a hard weekend of work and Bucky's at his house eating dinner with his sister. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.