Falcon and Winter Soldier May Feature a Huge Link to Netflix's Marvel Shows

One of the big selling points for the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe miniseries on Disney+ is that they will do what the Marvel Netflix series didn't: provide cinematic-quality adventures that tie directly into and influence the movies. As different as this new generation of Marvel streaming shows is going to be from the last one, one of the announced miniseries, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, could actually be a chance to make the Netflix shows finally relevant to the mainline MCU continuity.

It all depends on how the series adapts the backstory of new edition John Walker, who is being played by Wyatt Russell. In the comics, John Walker, who also worked under the aliases of Super-Patriot and U.S. Agent, was appointed by the Commission on Superhuman Activities to replace Steve Rogers as Captain America in 1987's Captain America #333 by Mark Gruenwald and Tom Morgan. Given the Commission specifically passed on letting Sam Wilson take up the shield due to fears of how America would receive a black Cap, it's easy to imagine what the conflict in The Falcon and Winter Soldier is going to look like.

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It's the source of Walker's powers that offers up the potential Marvel Netflix connection. Walker's superhuman strength, agility, reflexes and endurance are the result of a mutagenic augmentation process done by Dr. Karl Malus. Walker and Malus have a complicated relationship throughout the comics. Despite the law-and-order Walker benefitting from the mad scientist's technological expertise, they end up finding themselves on opposite sides of the law, with Dr. Malus later becoming a host for Carnage, a detail that will almost certainly never happen in the MCU given Sony and Disney's break-up over the Spider-Man rights.

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However, Malus also has a connection to the Marvel Netflix shows Dr. Malus was also one of the scientists at IGH responsible for giving Jessica Jones and her mother Alisa their powers (and almost giving Trish Walker) in Season 2 of the Jessica Jones Netflix series. Played by Callum Keith Rennie, this version of the character had his life spared by Jessica but ended up offing himself by blowing up his own laboratory.

Given the Jessica Jones version of Dr. Malus is dead, it seems unlikely that we'll see him show up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Perhaps there could be flashbacks, but Callum Keith Rennie is not part of the announced cast for the show thus far. However, if Dr. Malus is referenced by name in the miniseries, that would be the strongest potential hint at the Netflix series staying canonical to the MCU.

jessica jones season 2 doctor malus

The issue of the Netflix series' canonicity has become extra questionable in light of the announcement that Mahershala Ali, who previously played Cottonmouth in Season 1 of Luke Cage, will now be taking on a different major role in the MCU as Blade. The Netflix shows were already sort of sectioned off from the rest of the MCU. Although the shows occasionally referenced the movies, the acknowledgement never went in the other direction.

Now that the Marvel Netflix shows are all canceled, it seems very likely that they could be retconned out of the MCU canon entirely. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could change the source of John Walker's powers, or it could possibly even recast Dr. Malus and keep him alive, effectively declaring the Jessica Jones version non-canonical. Still, there is a chance, however slim, that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could serve as potential connective tissue that, if not outrighting confirming it, is able to hint at connections between the Netflix shows and the rest of the MCU.

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