Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3 — released last Friday on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — brought back Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, five years after we last saw her in the Marvel's Captain America: Civil War. First introduced as a SHIELD agent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she was initially designed as a future love interest for Captain America/ Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). They even kissed in Civil War. It was a poorly conceived moment though, given that she's the grand-niece of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Steve's primary love interest to whom he returned at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
Thankfully, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier delivers a soft reboot of Sharon Carter who is entirely unlike the character we've seen in two Captain America movies. Sharon, once the literal guardian of Captain America, has no patience for any of that patriotic nonsense, or as she calls it on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3, the “stars and stripes bulls--t”. In Civil War, after Sharon helped Cap get his shield back, she was branded a traitor by the US government. And though the Avengers all inked deals to return home, Sharon has been on the run ever since.
“I mean so much is different about Sharon,” VanCamp told journalists over Zoom on Tuesday. “She is rough around the edges this time around. She is a little angry,” VanCamp added with a laugh. “So that was what was exciting to me about coming back to play Sharon. We saw her as this wide-eyed agent in the films initially. And to bring her back into the MCU, I think it had to be something totally different because obviously in many ways from her perspective, she was wronged and had never been pardoned and was sort of on the run this whole time.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3 finds Sharon making a living — or hustling, as she calls it — far away from her homeland in Madripoor, a fictional island in the Indonesian archipelago that is described as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” in the Marvel comics. Sharon notes that she can't speak to her family and that her father doesn't even know where she is. She has spent the years since Civil War hiding in the shadows, and when Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) interjects that they too had to go underground, Sharon points out that it was in the past for them. She is still living that life. “Was. Is. Big difference,” Sharon said in episode 3.
“Once you finally meet her in Madripoor, you see her circumstances and you see what she's been up to,” VanCamp said. “I do feel like that her feelings are warranted. Being a little bit more cynical and maybe a little bit angry at how things went down and how, in a sense, she was sort of abandoned after she sacrificed a lot for the Avengers in that time.
“I remember speaking with [The Falcon and the Winter Soldier creators] about it before anything was even written. When they were pitching the idea what the show was about and what this new concept of Sharon was. It was very intriguing to me. Because I play the character and love this character, I did sort of wonder, ‘Well, where did she go and what has she had to do this whole time?' And we never specifically say what she's had to do, but we definitely get the feeling that it hasn't [been great].”
“She speaks about her family and how she hasn't been home and she sacrificed so much for these guys. ‘For what?'” VanCamp added. “And I think that's the general sentiment when we meet her again. And so, I was very pleased that Sharon had this edge, because I think it was earned. She has the right to feel how she feels in this in this series and I think anything different wouldn't have made a lot of sense.”
Though VanCamp had conversations with everyone involved in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the 34-year-old Canadian actress noted that she specifically worked the most with Kari Skogland, the Canadian director on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. They spoke about the balancing act of adding the new bits and the pieces — “the swagger and the rough and tough kind of persona,” VanCamp said — without completely abandoning all the elements to Sharon that have previously existed.
“It was a fine line that we were walking with Kari because we were working together on set,” VanCamp added. “And it was everything down to the character, to her walk, to the fight style, just trying to kind of add to who Sharon was then.”
Speaking of her fight style, Sharon showcased some serious fighting chops in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3, handling a bunch of bounty hunters who were after the male trio — Sam, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and returning Civil War villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl).
VanCamp said that she worked “at length” with her stunt double Jess Durham “to come up with these choreographies and figure out what Sharon's fight style looks like now that she is in Madripoor. It's very different than when you're an agent and all the technical training, so it was kind of trying to mix the technical background that she would have with a little bit of that scrappy street style that she would have probably had to develop over this time period.”
She squeezed in as much fight training as she possibly could, because VanCamp is also part of the main cast on the Fox medical drama The Resident — also on Disney+ Hotstar in India — that was filmed concurrently with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. “Every moment I had off, I would go to the stunt warehouse of sorts [put up by Marvel for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier],” VanCamp said.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of training, a lot of bruises to cover up,” VanCamp added with a laugh, “and a lot of cuts. It took a while to figure it out but once you figure out the fight style then you have to learn the sequences, and I found that really, really fun. It's extremely challenging, especially working on two projects at the same time, but I knew it was going to be hard going into it and I loved it. It was great.”
As with all things Marvel, VanCamp is tight-lipped about her future in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Given the precious little we know about Sharon's years between Civil War and now, how about a Sharon Carter prequel spin-off that is set during her years in Madripoor? “That is out of my hands,” VanCamp said with a laugh. Marvel, I hope you're listening.
New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier air every Friday — until series finale on April 23 — on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar.
Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, has a double bill this week: the OnePlus 9 series, and Justice League Snyder Cut (starting at 25:32). Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.