Following on from the high emotional stakes of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier began by reintroducing viewers to the wider world of the post-Blip MCU, exploring what the future of this fictional universe might realistically look like now that Thanos' victims have all been returned after a five year absence. But as much as the series premiere, "New World Order", looked forward, it also took time to acknowledge the past.
This happened most overtly in the scene where Sam Wilson donated Captain America's iconic shield (which Steve Rogers bequeathed to him in Avengers: Endgame) to the Smithsonian Museum, echoing the dialogue in which he expresses his feeling that he is not its rightful owner. But the episode was also full of subtler nods to the MCU's lengthy history, and the place that the Falcon, the Winter Soldier, and Cap himself have in it.
In a new video on the Everything Always channel, Michael Roman provides a rundown of the oblique Easter eggs and MCU references that can be found in the episode.
First off, there's the reprise of Georges St-Pierre as Batroc the Leaper. While probably too big to be considered an Easter egg, the pirate's presence in the opening action sequence is an instant callback to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie whose story beats and overarching themes look set to be continued here in the show.
The episode also draws parallels between the financial situation of Sam and his family, and the treatment of veterans who return to the United States after combat—again, a thematically resonant plot point given how this show is concerned with the perception of heroes, nationhood, and the military.
Perhaps most importantly to the ongoing plot of the show, however, are the numerous allusions to super-soldier serum. This was, of course, how Steve Rogers originally became Captain America during the Second World War, and the superior strength demonstrated by the Flag Smashers during their heist seems to be inviting viewers to compare the two.
Coupled with Sam Wilson's anticipated character arc, which will presumably end in him taking up the Cap mantle at the end of the show, it's probably fair to say that the plot of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (not to mention all of the Marvel references therein) will relate most heavily to the Captain America trilogy.
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