The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows how Marvel is weaving X-Men elements into the MCU
Warning: Spoilers from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 1, episode 3 are discussed in this article.
Big questions have lingered around Marvel since the Walt Disney Company finalized its purchase of 21st Century Fox properties in March 2019. How would the Mouse House choose to incorporate elements from its newly acquired playthings, like X-Men and Fantastic Four, into the ever-growing MCU? Would the term "mutants" become a thing in this universe?
Marvel Studios has since announced development on a Fantastic Four movie, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows this week the approach being taken elsewhere by the architects of this super-verse. The answer is a lot more subtle than someone like Cyclops or Storm dropping onto a Disney+ show.
Episode 3, "Power Broker," sees Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) helping to break his old adversary Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) from his German prison cell, much to Sam's (Anthony Mackie) dismay. They need to know who has been replicating the Super Soldier serum and they figure the man with an intimate knowledge of HYDRA would know where to start.
Zemo leads them to a place called Madripoor, which is a location directly pulled from the comics — just not comics Disney previously had access to adapt.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige previously told EW, "There's a setting in particular that people have already glimpsed in some of the trailers that is a setting from the Marvel Comics that was not previously available to us, but it's more of an Easter egg in and of itself." Yup, he was talking about Madripoor.
The location, indeed, hails from the X-Men side of the Marvel comics universe. The Principality of Madripoor is a fictional country in Southeast Asia, with Madripoor being the capital city. It's divided into the wealthy High Town and the poorer Low Town. As Sam mentions on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they don't have any friends in High Town.
In the comics, the island is chiefly related to Wolverine. The city's Princess Bar featured prominently in writer Chris Claremont's Marvel Comics Presents story on the adamantium-clawed mutant. On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this bar makes an appearance as the camera lingers on its neon sign.
A second watering hole, the Brass Monkey Saloon, to which Zemo leads Sam and Bucky, appeared in a Captain America story from John Walker creator Mark Gruenwald.
Another possible connection to the X-Men comics could very well be the person Zemo is looking to meet. Selby, an old contact of his, knows that the super-soldier serum is here in Madripoor, but the city is run by an elusive figure called Power Broker, the "judge, jury, and executioner" in these parts. (Power Broker has his own comic book origins.) Selby is also the name of a mutant from the comics, one with a mastery of computer binary language.
Feige stated multiple times in the past that making another X-Men film — beyond the third R-rated Deadpool movie — was a ways off in the planning of the MCU. For now, the results of Marvel Studios operating in this larger sandbox of X-Men comics seems to be manifesting more as Easter eggs for fans to find.
"The comics are a great source, but our stories are unique," series director Kari Skogland explained to EW. "They might draw from the comics, but they aren't actually in the comics so our characters can be unique and evolved and not be tied. We're not duplicating a story and we're not duplicating a character. That means if we come up with a group and we need a name for them, then, yes, we might go deep and find something that's relevant."
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier drops weekly on Disney+ every Friday.