Directors Weigh in on ‘Winter Soldier’ as Marvel Reveals Sebastian Stan’s Replacement

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Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes with long brown hair and a solemn expression, wearing a leather jacket and black turtleneck, stands in a dimly lit industrial setting.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Change is afoot in Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has been entertaining audiences for the last 16 years.

Kevin Feige at D23
Credit: D23

In just under a year, Marvel Studios will bring audiences back to the Captain America series. When Captain America: Brave New World (2025) debuts, it will become the fourth installment in the MCU’s Captain America series. Starting with Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), the star-spangled hero has been part of the MCU for the last 13 years.

As one of the MCU’s original Avengers, Captain America–or Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans–has been a staple part of the franchise, going on to appear in The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Anthony Mackie looking down at the Captain America Shield as an old Chris Evans looks on
Credit: Marvel Studios

It was at the end of Endgame that the future of the Captain America character was decided. Evans’ Steve Rogers handed his shield and his mantle over to Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon and, in doing so, ignited the next chapter of the Captain America legacy.

The journey of Sam Wilson’s acceptance of being both a Black man and Captain America was something writer Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland explored in their Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier–the second canon TV outing for Marvel Studios following WandaVision.

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Captain America
Credit: Marvel Studios

Here, Sam Wilson was joined by fellow MCU heavyweight Bucky Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan. The love for Stan’s character was heightened following the release of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is still one of the most positively regarded entries in the MCU canon. The Russo Brothers recently weighed in on the 10th anniversary of the movie, telling Total Film it was a “thrill.”

“It makes me feel really old! It was honestly a thrill. I mean, that whole period was so immersive and thrilling for us,” Anthony Russo said. “We basically entered the MCU on that movie and exited it seven years later with Endgame.”

The director and producer continued: “That whole ride was like a rollercoaster that more and more people kept joining. We started working with Marvel in 2012, and Endgame was released in 2019. I mean, when you think about it only being seven years, that’s a lot to pack in–four movies in seven years.”

A large group of the Avengers making a stand in Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Chris Evans Has Been Recast in Upcoming Marvel Movie: Report

Despite being a fan-favorite character, with fans celebrating the chemistry between Sam and Bucky in the Disney+ show, Stan’s Winter Soldier will not appear in the fourth Captain America movie, ending his 13-year streak with the series.

Anthony Mackie confirmed to ComicBook that neither Sebastian Stan nor Daniel Brühl, who plays Baron Zemo, will appear in Captain America: Brave New World, saying “he doesn’t have his friends on set anymore.” Instead, Sam Wilson will be joined by new comrades, effectively replacing the Winter Soldier’s role moving forward.

The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) with a gun
Credit: Marvel Studios

As Mackie’s character adapts to his new life as Captain America, Danny Ramirez’s Joaquin Torres will replace Sam Wilson as the MCU’s Falcon, seemingly becoming his superhero partner. A first look at Ramirez’s Falcon was seen in a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy leak earlier this month; the same leak also revealed a never-before-seen image of the Red Hulk, heavily rumored to be played by Harrison Ford, who is credited as playing General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in Julius Onah’s upcoming movie.

It was on April 11, 2024, at CinemaCon that the first footage was seen of Captain America: Brave New World, revealing Thunderbolt Ross’ plan to rebuild the Avengers using Sam Wilson. At the same event, Marvel boss Kevin Feige updated the name of the Phase Five finisher, Thunderbolts, changing it to Thunderbolts*. Feige said no further comment would be made on the title change until after the movie’s release.

Thunderbolts cast
Credit: Marvel Studios

The future of the MCU is looking brighter after a tough 2023, which saw movies like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023) crash out at the box office. Deadpool & Wolverine (2024) will be the sole Marvel movie to be released this year, whereas 2025 will have four: Captain America: Brave New World, Thunderbolts*, The Fantastic Four, and Blade.

Even after Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger called out Feige’s studio for reusing the same characters, Marvel will go ahead with the fourth Captain America movie. Iger, though, believes that superhero fatigue doesn’t exist, meaning the pressure on the MCU is at an all-time high.

Anthony Mackie as Captain America
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Scraps ‘Deadpool 3’, Reboots MCU Instead

Captain America: Brave New World will be released on February 14, 2025. The movie stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Captain America, Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres/Falcon, Carl Lumbly as Isaiah Bradley, Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns/Leader, Shira Haas as Ruth/Sabra, and Liv Tyler as Betty Ross.

Making his MCU debut is Harrison Ford as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Rosa Salazar, Seth Rollins, and Xosha Roquemore have been cast in undisclosed roles. It is directed by Julius Onah from a script by Malcolm Spellman and Dalan Musson.

Do you think Captain America: The Winter Soldier holds up after a decade? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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