What to Know About the Flag Smashers on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier<\/em>

The first episode of Disney+’s latest Marvel show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, caught up with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame. And as viewers soon learned, the world of the MCU has been altered forever by the sudden return of half of the world’s previously “dusted” population.

In addition to a minor financial crisis precipitated by the reappearance of billions of people with nonexistent credit ratings (Sam, we really hope you get that loan!), there are some people who believe the planet was actually better off after Thanos snapped his fingers in Infinity War.

Enter the Flag Smashers.

While the identity and motives of the newly emerged militant group remain partially obfuscated, they are initially described by Joaquin Torres as wanting a single unified world with no nations or borders. Which, on its face, is not necessarily a nefarious goal. Although their first appearance, in which they rob a Swiss bank and effortlessly fight off security staff with apparent super-strength, certainly sets them up as antagonists.

“All the villains in this series believe they are heroes,” said Malcolm Spellman, the head writer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. “They can eloquate what they’re fighting for in a way that even the heroes are like, ‘Damn! That is a really, really good point,’ because they all exist in a world that’s very similar to the world we exist in today.”

“Thanos has been dispatched and half the population has disappeared and come back. That’s created a global crisis, just like the global crisis today,” he continued. “And from that global crisis are these various antagonists born, but they’re responding to something the heroes also agree with and the citizens of the world are like, ‘Hey, man, this is a tough situation. Maybe they’re not wrong.’ That conflict leads to some pretty amazing scenes because, what do you do when the heroes identify with the villains?”

The group are led by a character named in the credits as Karli Morgenthau, a gender-flipped version of a character from the comics, Karl Morgenthau, who became an anti-nationalism extremist who fought under the moniker “Flag-Smasher.” But just because the show has borrowed the character’s name, doesn’t mean fans of the original comics will be able to anticipate where this story is going.

“The comics are a great source, but our stories are unique,” said director Kari Skogland. “We’re not duplicating a story and we’re not duplicating a character.”

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