The six-part series which released its third episode today (2 April) takes place in the immediate aftermath of Captain America’s last stand in Avengers: Endgame.
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan star as the respective heroes of the title, aka Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. Both characters were best friends of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in different time periods.
By now, fans expect Marvel features to intersperse Easter eggs and clever nods to other productions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Black Panther crossover in the latest episode has taken viewers by surprise.
Titled “Power Broker”, the third episode sees Bucky break Baron Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl) out of prison to enlist his help in tracking down other super-soldiers.
Marvel fans will remember Baron’s character as the villain of Captain America: Civil War – something that Sam is quick to remind Bucky of.
“He blew up the UN, he killed King T’Chaka and framed you for it. Did you forget that? You think the Wakandans forgot about it?” asks Sam.
In Civil War, we learnt that King T’Chaka (the father of Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa in Black Panther) was killed by Baron – aka Helmut Zemo – in order to frame Bucky for the crime.
Amid the episode’s action Bucky follows a trail of small metal spheres that lead him to a familiar face: Ayo, a member of the Wakanda royal guard who was last seen in Black Panther (played by Florence Kasumba).
“I was wondering when you were going to show up,” Bucky says, to which Ayo replies: “I’m here for Zemo.”
The crossover is bound to catch a number of viewers off-guard, given the uncertainty surrounding the future of Black Panther following Boseman’s death in 2020.
Ayo previously starred in 2016’s Civil War before appearing in 2018’s Black Panther.
It appears as if the character has entered Falcon and the Winter Soldier in order to tie up the loose ends of Civil War, specifically the murder of King T’Chaka.
Over the series’ three episodes, astute viewers have picked up on a number of details you may have missed, such as a heartbreaking call-back to a Marvel film and a hint that Bucky may be bisexual.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs Fridays on Disney Plus.