The following story contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is playing it’s spy thriller-esque mystery story slowly, but featuring a whole lot of Marvel Cinematic Universe world building in the meantime. While the show was pretty quick to introduce a new Captain America who was not Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) or Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) but rather John Walker (Wyatt Russell), it has since taken time to tease an unseen villain (The Power Broker), an old Captain America that we’d never heard about before (Isaiah Bradley), and now use an old fan-favorite villain in Captain America: Civil War‘s Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) to introduce Madripoor, one of the Marvel Universe’s settings most often associated with the X-Men.
While there’s a lot to know about Madripoor—and we’ll get to that more in a little bit—our old pal Zemo and Bucky do let Sam (and, by proxy, the viewers) know a little bit up front about the hot spot. It’s an island in the Indonesian Archipelago, and it was a pirate sanctuary in the 1800s. Sam says it sounds like Skull Island from the way they talk about it, and, in a way, he’s right: while the island has a Hightown (for wealthy, upper class citizens) and a Lowtown (for the peasants and true scoundrels), it’s largely kept its lawless ways. Zemo lets them know that they can’t walk in as Avenger Sam Wilson and Avenger-adjacent Bucky Barnes.
To fit under cover, Sam will need to become Smiling Tiger (a Black Panther-esque Marvel character in his own right) and Bucky will need to act like the Winter Soldier brainwashing never wore off. The trio largely accomplishes what they needed to on Madripoor; they find Selby in the bar, The Brass Monkey Tavern, that they enter. While she dies, they do learn that the super soldier serum has been re-engineered and overseen by the Power Broker, and that Karli Morganthau (Erin Kellyman) and company have since stolen it. They also run into Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who’s now living in the Hightown section of Madripoor and has taken on a rather cynical attitude since being declared an Enemy of the U.S. following the events of Captain America: Civil War. Just throwing it out there, but she’s probably the Power Broker.
Anyway. Zemo is also most likely playing both sides like a fiddle, but for now Sam and Bucky are still making use of him for what he is. But as we wait to see what happens next in our super soldier serum mystery (now also with ties to Wakanda), let’s talk a little bit about Madripoor, the latest super important setting to be introduced to the MCU.
Madripoor is the biggest tie-in yet for the MCU and the X-Men.
Yes, we’ve been ~kind of~ burned going down this road before (the jury is still out on Ralph Bohner, as far as I’m concerned), but the introduction of Madripoor as a setting within the confines of the MCU is the biggest concrete sign yet that this world will eventually, and perhaps relatively soon, be inhabited by mutants and X-Men.
How, you ask?
Well, Madripoor has almost always been a Marvel Universe location rooted in the world of the X-Men. It first appeared in 1985’s New Mutants #32, and has also been part of the Wolverine solo series, and a flashback issue (Uncanny X-Men #268) featured Madripoor as the place where Captain America, Black Widow, and Wolverine first met during World War II.
In 2017’s X-Men Blue, Magneto builds an X-Mansion/HQ of his own for a group of X-Men who are out of time (yes, there’s time travel at play here) in the Hightown area of Madripoor. Being Magneto, of course, he had a secret agenda where he was trying to send those X-Men back to their own timeline without their knowledge; Being Magneto, those X-Men were prepared for the possibility that their greatest villain/frenemy would once again double cross them.
There’s even more to The Princess Bar than what we saw.
The episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier featured two bars: The Brass Monkey Tavern, which was the bar we saw Sam, Bucky, and Zemo enter and get into some trouble in, and The Princess Bar, which we only saw signage for.
If the Brass Monkey—the bar we saw—gave off Star Wars cantina bar scum-of-the-planet vibes, then The Princess Bar would almost certainly be the opposite of that. Despite The Princess Bar’s location in Madripoor’s Lowtown, it’s a higher end eating and drinking establishment, and one with cabaret and entertainment at night time. It attracts patrons from both Hightown and Lowtown.
But that’s all lead-up. The interesting thing, really, about The Princess Bar is who owns it. A man named O’Donnell and another man named Patch are the co-owners, and those names probably don’t sound too familiar. But Patch is actually an alias used by one of Marvel’s greatest heroes–and one that we’ve yet to see make his MCU debut: Wolverine.
Yep, that’s right. Who knows what could happen, but the bar Sam, Bucky, and Zemo walked right past could have Wolverine just kicking it inside. Time will only tell if and when the MCU will return to Madripoor and perhaps take viewers inside the doors of The Princess Bar, but know that the groundwork has certainly now been laid—at least from one angle.
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