The Identity of The Power Broker Is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier<\/em>‘s First Big Mystery
The following story contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 3.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been teasing a mysterious and unseen character named “The Power Broker” for a few episodes now, and it seems like audiences are no closer to finding out who this person is—or what their motivation is—than at the beginning. But as the series moves along, more and more hints will surely lead to the Power Broker stepping into the spotlight.
Episode 3 brought the show’s action to Madripoor, a lawless former pirate sanctuary where we learn that The Power Broker—whom our resident villain-turned-kinda-friend-I-Guess? Zemo only knows by reputation—is “judge, jury, and executioner,” as Zemo proclaims in the Brass Monkey Tavern. But we’ve also begun to know more about what the power broker has been up to: developing super soldier serums.
Whoever the Power Broker is—and, uh, we’ve got some theories—they’ve taken on a project that the CIA was too scared to continue with after The Blip. Dr. Wilfred Nagel is a scientist who is apparently the first since Abraham Erskine to crack the super soldier serum, working for the Power Broker. But then Karli Morgantheau and the Flag-Smashers stole them, and the rest we’ve seen play out on screen.
Our heroes get a little bit of information out of Nagel, but he’s quickly shot dead (by Zemo, womp womp.) But if there’s anything we know about super soldier serum attempts, it’s that there’s always some sort of side effect. And it’s never just a little arm soreness.
So, let’s just get this out of the way up front—who is the Power Broker?
So, this absolutely could be a red herring. But Episode 3 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier seemed to really be hinting toward Sharon Carter being The Power Broker herself, right? She’s certainly taken on a newfound cynical attitude in her time since being declared an Enemy of the U.S State after Civil War and being dusted off the earth during The Blip. She’s living a luxurious life trading goods in the Hightown area of Madripoor, and we’ve still gotten no real confirmation of any details about The Power Broker. Zemo hasn’t even met them—only knows what he knows from reputation. “We’ve got a big problem. Actually, a couple of them,” Sharon tells a personal driver as soon as she parts ways with Bucky, Sam, and Zemo. “I’ll tell you in the car. Let’s go.” Sharon’s in a rush. And it seems like she’s up to no good.
Now, I could be reading directly into Marvel’s hand here. But it really feels like a telegraphed twist, and one I wouldn’t totally love. It would make sense that she would feel the urge to turn after being cast astray for doing the right thing. But after being one of the only ones to stick on the right side following what happened in The Winter Soldier? It doesn’t feel quite right. Yet the clues—Sharon also refuses to return to the U.S., and begs Sam repeatedly for a pardon—seem to be pointing that way. We’ll see Sharon again this season, but she certainly seems like the early favorite to be the hidden identity of The Power Broker.
When was The Power Broker first introduced to the MCU?
Audiences were technically introduced to the idea of someone called “The Power Broker” during the credits of the series’ first episode (some sort of torn/redacted headline said something like “The Power Broker Is Watching”), but Episode 2 brought the still-unseen character into the fold through the actions of people working for him.
Our first official mention of “The Power Broker” comes near the end of the episode, as Karli Morgenthau—the leader of the still pretty confusing villainous Flag Maskers facton—escapes the people who’ve tracked her team down. “How much time do we have?” Karli asks, before being told that they have none—it’s The Power Broker’s men who’ve come to settle the score.
Upon this, it becomes fairly clear that the person texting Karli earlier in the episode very well could have been the Power Broker himself. “You took what was mine,” a message to her phone read. “I’m going to find you and kill you,” said another.
But what did she take? We saw her team stealing some sort of vaccines from a truck earlier in the episode, but upon further examination realize it could have actually been super soldier serum, as Karli and her allies have increased strength as they faught (and basically defeated) Bucky, Sam, John Walker, and Battlestar, Walker’s sidekick.
The Power Broker’s men are shown to be somewhat ruthless; when one of Karli’s fellow Flag Smashers (“One world. One people.”) volunteers to hold the men off as she and others escape, he storms their blockade and is shot to death as Karli’s plane escapes.
It’s clear that whoever The Power Broker is, he’s after whatever the Flag Smashers have stolen.
What is Power Broker’s role in the Marvel Comics?
The Power Broker in Marvel Comics is typically someone named Curtiss Jackson (no, not 50 Cent), a criminal who trades securities and assets of all sorts to, yes, give himself more and more power. At one point he begins “Power Broker Inc.” and hires a mad scientist named Dr. Karl Malus, who creates the “Power Broker Process,” which gives paying customers super-strength, essentially. He used this process, initially at least, to give super strength to wrestlers in order to fix bets.
He also used this process to create a number of heroes in the Marvel canon as well. One of these was Sharon Ventura, a version of Ms. Marvel (the MCU’s version, which will debut in late 2021 in a Disney+ series, will instead be the Kamala Khan version, played by Iman Vellani).
But perhaps the most important thing to know about the Power Broker in the Marvel Comics is that he was also responsible for the creation of a few characters who The Falcon and the Winter Soldier viewers will now be familiar with: John Walker/U.S. Agent and Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar.
It’s worth remembering too that while Power Broker has a history for creating supervillains and giving people super strength, those creations don’t always stay evil. John Walker, for instance, is an antagonist for the most part, but eventually settles in as more of an anti-hero. When Power Broker incapacitates himself at one point trying to gain powers, he kidnaps some of those who underwent the Power Broker process, using them to run tests in order to try to figure out how to reverse what he did to himself. U.S. Agent and Battlestar, however, eventually swoop in and stop him.
How will The Power Broker fit into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
If the MCU’s versions of Walker and Hoskins got their super strength through the dodgy origins of The Power Broker, it would certainly be a secret they wouldn’t want to get out there. Part of Walker’s origin that the Army really was pushing was just how much of a natural physical specimen he is; if he achieved this through some sort of illegal underground operation, it would destroy Walker’s public image. The idea that Walker—our new Captain America!—is in league with someone at least bad guy adjacent would be a fun twist for a bit down the line.
Who else could be The Power Broker?
We’re just now seeing the introduction of the idea of The Power Broker in the MCU in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but we would also guess that it won’t be Curtiss Jackson in the role. Instead, it seems like a great place for a returning character to be making some sort of large power play.
We’ve already talked about the whole Sharon Carter of it all. A few more candidates: Thunderbolt Ross (played in the MCU by William Hurt) hasn’t been seen since Avengers: Infinity War, and always was after the super soldier serum, as we saw in The Incredible Hulk, and, broadly, power, as we saw mostly in Captain America: Civil War with the Sokovia Accords. This could be him operating in the shadows following The Blip.
Another possibility could be Baron Zemo. Zemo was re-introduced—in prison—at the end of Episode 2 (following his capture by T’Challa/Black Panther at the end of Civil War), and seems to be operating his own Machiavellian scheme (he’s even no-so-subtly reading a book hinting at as much) but it would be a shock to absolutely no one if he was somehow pulling the strings from behind the scenes. We’ve already seen him as a master of manipulation, making the Avengers eat themselves alive and eventually break-up, so operating as a shadowy figure while imprisoned, and then working “as an ally to the heroes” would be a walk in the park comparatively.
And, well, it could just be some unseen character pulling the strings. That wouldn’t be quite that fun, but really who’s to say! But the mysterious early identity does indicate the presence of a later reveal. But we’ll have to just wait and see on that.
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