THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: 8 Ways The Finale Sets Up The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Future

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier told a terrific self-contained story, but it also set the stage for some big new stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here, we're looking at how it teases the future!

Marvel Studios is using Disney+ to tell stories that inform what we see in theaters, while also giving characters who might otherwise fade into the background a well-deserved chance to shine.

That was particularly the case in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier as both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes were put front and center for a series that proved to be one heckuva ride. Of course, this is Marvel Studios we're talking about, so you'd best believe the finale set the stage for the future!

With that in mind, we're taking a closer look at the ways this finale, and the series as a whole, did that. 

Some were obvious, but many were a little more subtle as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier dropped some big hints for a number of exciting new directions for the MCU, not to mention future movies and TV shows...

8. Bucky's Fresh Start

The finale does gloss over this a little, but by the time The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ends, Bucky has fully made amends for his past actions as The Winter Soldier. 

His past might still haunt him, but this feels like a completely fresh start for the character. Now, he can move on as a superhero, no longer haunted by his nightmares or what HYDRA forced him to do as an assassin. We're not sure where that leaves him, but a place at Captain America's side seems most fitting. 

Marvel Comics struggled to find a place for Bucky after his stint as Captain America ended, so Kevin Feige hopefully has some better ideas up his sleeve. 

We just hope Sebastian Stan plans to stick around for the long haul. 

7. Steve Rogers Mystery

Heading into this Disney+ series, we all expected some clarification about Steve Rogers' whereabouts following the events of Avengers: Endgame

When we last saw the original Captain America, he was an old man who had returned from the past after living out his life with Peggy Carter. Steve got his happy ending, but...what came next? 

There's not really much story left to tell with Steve, but we'd have appreciated learning why people think he's on the moon and what Sam and Bucky meant when they said he was "gone." Alas, with the series at an end, the mystery of the Avenger's fate will continue. 

Variety has reported that Chris Evans is returning to the MCU, so it seems like something might be in the works...

6. Zemo's Mission Is Finished...For Now

Zemo doesn't believe super soldiers should exist, and he successfully manages to kill the remaining Flag Smashers despite being locked "safely" away in The Raft. 

His machinations appear to be at an end for now, but the Baron is a powerful figure even behind bars.

He may have forgiven Bucky, but there are plenty of other superpowered individuals still out there, and still causing the sort of damage which led to the downfall of Sokovia. So, how better to counter them than creating his own team who can usurp the sorts of heroes Zemo believes are a danger to the world?

That's pure speculation on our part for now, but feels like a logical next step for this version of Zemo.

5. Sharon Carter = A Skrull Imposter?

We presented this theory to you on the site a little earlier today, and it sure is a compelling one. Sharon Carter's actions in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier don't make a whole heap of sense, especially as everything she does is majorly out of character.

It's easy to understand why she would feel bitter after the country she served turned its back on her, but she's also smart enough to know what she did during Captain America: Civil War...well, it was a big deal (it's easy to forget just how devastating what happened in Sokovia was).

All of this could be explained, however, with the reveal that Sharon is a Skrull. 

As Power Broker, she created super soldiers the Skrull Empire could use in its invasion of Earth. Now, she has access to the sort of information that can help make their "Secret Invasion" that little bit easier. 

4. New Sidekicks

Captain America's story is bound to continue in some form, and we're banking on a second season (with a new title). If that is in the works, it would certainly explain the introductions of Joaquin Torres and Eli Bradley.

In the comics, the latter takes on the role of Patriot and becomes the leader of the Young Avengers. Torres, meanwhile, becomes the new Falcon after Sam Wilson takes Steve Rogers' place as Captain America. It's possible Marvel Studios wanted to include a couple of familiar faces as Easter Eggs here, but how often have they introduced characters only to do nothing with them? 

Okay, a few times, but you can surely see what we're getting at! 

It feels like the evolution of both Joaquin and Eli could happen down the line, and while only Kevin Feige knows what's in store for them, we're damn excited to see where he takes these two "sidekicks."

3. U.S Agent

John Walker is clearly still suffering from PTSD, and the super soldier serum has only served to enhance any mental health issues he might have already had. 

Despite that, he did do the right thing by leaping into action to save those members of the GRC, and is clearly a good man and a hero deep down...whether he's capable of keeping that up is another matter. His way of dealing with things looks to be vastly different to Steve and Sam, but as U.S. Agent, maybe that's okay. 

Clearly, there's a purpose for him in today's America, and while he doesn't have a shield (yet), Valentina Allegra de Fontaine seemingly has big plans for her Captain America.

What might those be? We have one wild theory...

2. The Dark Avengers

On the one hand, it feels like we should get the Thunderbolts in the MCU. There's even a character called "Thunderbolt" Ross who would be an ideal candidate to put such a group together. 

However, that might also be a little too similar to the DC Extended Universe's Task Force X. 

Val putting together her own team of Avengers makes much more sense, and there's no reason it couldn't lead to a group eventually called the Thunderbolts. Name aside, Val (who might also be a Skrull!) putting together her own team of twisted heroes could lead to a very interesting Phase 4. 

They might operate from the West Coast or be introduced as the government's own idea for what the Avengers should be, but we have a feeling Kevin Feige has a big idea with this concept we've not even considered yet.

1. Captain America And The Winter Soldier

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ends with a new title: Captain America and The Winter Soldier.

It's a fitting change, and while we're a little surprised that Bucky didn't get a different name, he has seemingly embraced what it used to mean to be the Winter Soldier, and what it means now

In other words, he's making it his own, and this feels like a reveal that's blatantly setting the stage either for a season 2 or a movie. If we were choosing, it would probably be the latter, though there are definitely lots of places these characters could be taken over the course of six more hours.

The MCU has a new Captain America, and that's a big deal. He's bound to be a major player in Phase 4, and hopefully, he'll lead whatever iteration of the Avengers that comes next.

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