“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is a standout in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which debuted in 2008 with the first “Iron Man” film. It centers on the stories of Sam, who has to protect world peace while helping out with his family’s finances, and Bucky, who struggles with loneliness and atoning for his dark past. This was great stuff, but you can be honest with me, readers – did John F. Walker not grab your attention, keeping you guessing what he’d be up to in every episode? Well the good news for you is, now he’s joining S.H.Figuarts!
A Faithful Portrayal of the New Captain America Costume
The first thing that catches your eye with this S.H.Figuarts portrayal are the colors, beautifully reproducing the brave appearance of new Captain America John F. Walker at a 150 mm scale.
It evokes the same traditional red, white, and blue Stars and Stripes scheme used by Steve Rogers’ Captain America aside from his alternate costumes such as the stealth-suit in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) and “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018). But notably, Walker’s costume doesn’t use any white. Even the Stars and Stripes patch on the shoulder – so accurately reproduced! – is rendered in gray. It’s said that the red on the actual American flag symbolizes valor; the blue vigilance, perseverance, and justice; and the white purity. So my reading of the fact this costume doesn’t use any white is that it’s meant to symbolize the fact Walker isn’t as pure or innocent as he looks.
The Birth of the Second Generation Captain America Suit
Fans of the comic book series might see the distinctive new Captain America suit reproduced on the S.H.Figuarts figure, with the star over the right breast and red stripes across the torso, and think: is this based on John Walker’s “U.S. Agent” character? The story of how Walker became the U.S. Agent traces back to issue 332 of Captain America, released in August of 1987. Steve Rogers, dissatisfied with the direction the American government is taking, turns in his suit and shield. Three candidates to replace him are identified. The first is S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick Fury. The second is the Falcon, Sam Wilson. Fury is dismissed because of his age and his duties at S.H.I.E.L.D. Wilson is turned down because the government fears the backlash of naming a Black man as Captain America. Thus the only choice became the third candidate, John Walker. In the comics, this former soldier and super-patriot whose body was enhanced by the Power Broker Corporation became the new Captain America.
In the comics, when Walker became Captain America, he wore a suit with the same design as Steve. It seems that there were some discussions about having Wyatt Russell, who played Walker in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” wear the same suit in the series. It makes sense from an acting standpoint, but to tell you the truth, that wouldn’t have made me happy as an action figure fan. As a collector, I want a figure with a new design.
In the comics, post-Cap Steve Rogers launched a new superhero identity as The Captain. In that mode, he wore a full-body black suit with a star on his right chest and red and white stripes on his body. This later became the U.S. Agent suit.
Walker served as Captain America for a year and a half, between Captain America issue 333 (September 1987) to 350 (February 1989). Just as in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier television series, his violent behavior begins to manifest early on as he loses his mental balance. In addition, he finds himself sucked in by the strategy of Red Skull, who it turns out masterminded Steve’s retirement, exposing an even darker side of Walker’s nature as he plots to kill Steve. For his part Steve works heroically to bring Walker back to sanity. As a result Walker repents for his actions, not only offering to return the shield and suit, but also persuading Steve to take up the mantle of Captain America again. In other words Walker helps him make a comeback.
The government fakes John F. Walker’s death to heal his mind, erase painful memories, and allow him to be reborn as the government’s U.S. Agent. And his costume, as I mentioned earlier, is the one Steve wore as The Captain. The costume that Walker is seen wearing in the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is based on the comic-book version of the U.S. Agent.
I see The Captain's suit as proof of Steve’s determination to distance himself from the U.S. government. On that note, Steve also went on the lam during Avengers: Infinity War. In the design stage for that film, his costume was based on the spirit of The Captain. You can see concept art of his costume featuring a red stripe, similar to the Walker version Cap, in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War --The Art of the Movie.
A Redesigned Shield
We can’t neglect the shield when discussing the S.H.Figuarts John F. Walker. If you look closely, the details are different from the shield that Steve Rogers used. The most visible change is the design of the star in the center.
（Left）Shield of S.H.Figuarts Captain America(John F. Walker) (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier)
（Center）Shield of S.H.Figuarts Captain America (Avengers: Endgame)
（Right）Shield of ”S.H.Figuarts Captain America ‐《CAP VS. CAP》 EDITION‐(Avengers: Endgame)
So a whole new shield was made for this figure. It also includes effect parts so that you can reproduce the shield in action! As a collector, this makes me happy. S.H.Figuarts fans will remember this excellent part from the Captain America- 《CAP VS. CAP》 EDITION- (Avengers: Endgame) set, and now it’s packaged with John Walker, too!
Speaking of shields, in the comics it was the Taskmaster, who appears as the villain in Black Widow (2021, scheduled to be released this year) who taught Walker how to use his shield in battle. In the comics Taskmaster possesses the ability to memorizer and master any move he sees once, and passes Steve’s techniques on to Walker. The S.H.Figuarts Taskmaster (Black Widow) is already on sale, so fans can replicate the special training scene from the comic using the MCU version of the figure!
A Mask That Symbolizes His Dark Side
I know I say it all the time, but the faces are really the heart and soul of S.H.Figuarts. This one comes with two accurately reproduced heads, mask on and off.
At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the masked versions of Walker and Steve version Caps save for the design and color of the forehead. But this isn’t the case! If you look closely, the Walker version mask subtly telegraphs his character. It’s in the sculpt. Compared to Steve’s mask, the part just over Walker’s eyes is slightly raised, as though he’s squinting his eyebrows a bit. It gives him a more rugged and dangerous look.
Walker’s mask features a little deeper carved linework than Steve’s, which casts more shadows around the eyes.
In other words, Walker’s mask is designed to have an angry, dark look. This is some finely calculated design work! And to accentuate John F. Walker’s character, the figure’s eyes feature a dark wash to bring out the shadows.
In contrast to Steve’s mask, with its elegant molding, Walker’s is composed of negative elements. It’s tough to notice at first glance, but reproduced in perfect detail by S.H.Figuarts, so take the time to view them side by side and drink in the differences!
A Face Brought to Life by “TAMASHII Digital Coloring” Tech
Next let’s look at the unmasked face. TAMASHII digital coloring" technology really brings John F. Walker’s face to life! It too features shadows around the eyes to bring out his character.
As many Cine-Toy TAMASHII fans may know, Wyatt Russell is the son of Kurt Russell, who played Peter Quill's father Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 (2017). And what’s more, his mother is actress Goldie Hawn, well famed in her own right. What you might not be aware of is that before becoming an actor, he worked as a professional ice hockey goaltender. His height and athletic proportions carry over into the figure.
In 2010, at the age of 24, he retired from hockey due to an injury. He took up acting, and appeared in the movie Overlord (2018) produced by J.J. Abrams.
In many ways, Overlord feels like a side-story from Captain America: The First Avenger in that it depicts the battle of U.S. soldier who infiltrated a secret Nazi super-soldier plan in German-occupied France during World War II. In that film Wyatt Russell portrays an aggressive American soldier who fearlessly challenges superhuman warriors. Take a look after watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – you’ll feel like you are watching an old documentary of John F. Walker's military days!
And Wyatt Russell actually had a connection with Cap even before he played John F. Walker! Years back, he auditioned for the role of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. In other words, a man who couldn't become the “true” Captain America is playing John F. Walker! This is an amazing fact. In reality he was just starting out an actor, so took the audition to test his skills.
Ten years after that audition for The First Avenger, Russell reappeared as a beloved hero who falls victim to his dark side in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Not only did this complex role showcase his talent as an actor, but it led him to being memorialized in S.H.Figuarts, the action figure brand that’s the pride of Japan and loved around the world!
Text: Ginty Kobayashi
S.H.Figuarts Captain America (John F. Walker)
(The Falcon and the Winter soldier)