The Deaths of Battlestar and a Flag-Smasher
John’s worst fear comes true, and he experiences his biggest failing as Captain America when Lemar dies on his watch, after taking a super soldier serum enhanced punch to the chest that sends him flying into a stone pillar. While it was Karli who delivered the fatal blow, Walker flies off the handle, brutalizing and ultimately killing one of Karli’s fellow Flag-Smashers, in full view of a horrified crowd.
It’s a moment that had been foreshadowed throughout the episode. Earlier, when John and Lemar confronted Sam and Bucky on the street, you can see two guys lurking in a doorway filming the encounter on their phone, even though nothing terribly interesting or dangerous is taking place. Similarly, when John and Lemar are having their heart to heart about the horrors they’ve seen in war, John is recognized and approached for an autograph. So seeing him in full costume using that symbolic shield to brutally murder a defenseless man is going to have some repercussions, to say the least.
And while it’s a safe bet that this is the event that finally gets Sam to understand that not just anyone can wield the shield, the moment that will sway public opinion away from John as Captain America, and the one that will likely give the U.S. government second thoughts about their new Cap. And considering how human Russell’s portrayal of Walker has been, we’re likely to see this prey on his mind, regardless of how justified he may have felt in the heat of the moment.
And the way this affects Walker may call back to a Captain America comic book story from the same run that has inspired so much of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Should Captain America Kill?
The question of whether Captain America should kill is a philosophical debate that has raged in the comics for decades. For most of the character’s history, though, it was explicitly stated that Steve Rogers had a code against killing, much like Superman and other “lawful good” type superheroes. It’s admirable, but considering that a key piece of Captain America’s identity is that he actually fought in World War II, it never seemed all that believable to begin with (this was later retconned, first with the understanding that Cap generally didn’t carry a gun and only killed when it was unavoidable, and later when Ed Brubaker revealed that even before he was the Winter Soldier, Bucky was a deadly and highly-trained commando who often did the dirty work that America didn’t want their patriotic symbol seen doing).
But nevertheless, in the Marvel Comics of the 1980s, Cap’s code against killing was firmly and unquestionably in place. That is, until 1986’s Captain America #321, an early appearance of the original Flag-Smasher, Karl Morgenthau and the first appearance of his team, ULTIMATUM (Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army to Unite Mankind…look, it was the ’80s). Just as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s Karli Morgenthau is the MCU’s version of Karl, the MCU’s Flag-Smashers are the equivalent of ULTIMATUM. Now, with that out of the way…