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Wyatt Russell, who plays the newly hired hero on the Disney+ Marvel series, is the first to say that much like Bucky and Sam, his character's take on the iconic mantle and shield is nothing like his predecessor's — and that's starting with the difference in time periods they both hail from.
"What I thought was interesting about John is that Steve was a soldier from a different era. They're both soldiers from different eras, and the era of John is very different than the era of Steve," Russell told Entertainment Weekly. "The type of military men who are going to Iraq and Afghanistan was different because the time was different, and the grey area now, you see everything. Everything's filmed. There's a much different way of fighting now. You go in guns blazing first and ask questions later."
As Russell went on to explain, being the person picked to be Captain America is not just about choosing to jump on grenades to save people's lives — which John has also done — it's also about your motivation.
"[Steve was] fighting for something more than just getting the job done," said Russell. "John's the type of guy who's like, 'Look, you want me to do the job? I will finish the job for you... Sometimes that might require things in the grey areas where you are not comfortable but I am, and I need to be able to do my job."
And therein lies another way in which John differs from Steve and even Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). While the latter two doubted whether they were the right person to hold this role, especially in terms of what the suit requires of them as a person and what it might mean to other people, John doesn't feel the same level of self-questioning.
"Everybody has this idea of imposter syndrome to a degree, like even Sam at the beginning," explained Russell. "[Sam] didn't necessarily feel comfortable with being Captain America. He didn't feel right. Everybody deals with those things differently. So, it's a big difference between this guy [John] and Steve. He's a little bit more of a [jump in] head first type guy."
But as Russell went on to say, John is just one of the obstacles Sam has to overcome as part of his hero's journey towards feeling like he's earned the shield that was given to him at the end of Avengers: Endgame, when Steve hand-picked him to be his successor.
Of course, much like his character, Russell will also be facing comparisons to the person who held this title before him: Chris Evans, who brought the character of Steve Rogers to life all the way from Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011 to the final moments of Endgame in 2019. (Though fans are hoping for another brief reprise if only to know how Steve is currently doing.)
"It's next to an impossible job as far as I'm concerned," said Russell of Evans' performance as Steve, having only watched all his Marvel movies after being cast as John. "You're trying to be a character who's perfect. Then playing against that, of trying to be a character who's perfect but feels like he's not at all. He did an unreal job of towing that line."
Sebastian Stan also stars in the series. He's joined by Emily VanCamp, Daniel Brühl, Adepero Oduye, Desmond Chiam, and Miki Ishikawa.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier continues next Friday on Disney+ with Episode 3.