There have been so many awesome great runs of comic books over the years that it is easy to lose sight of them. One of the most epic is the Captain America run done by Mark Gruenwald. Gruenwald’s run on Captain America does a great long-play story about patriotism, belief, and what America and its Sentential of Liberty should stand for.
Part of that story is that in order to defeat a terrorist, Captain America had to shoot and kill him. Though the act saved many lives, the government decided to clamp down on Captain America and force him to become a government operative. (Yes, Mark Grunewald basically introduced the main plot of the Marvel Civil Wars crossover years earlier.)
But during that time, a new character is slowly introduced and built up over time: the Super-Patriot! Hailing from the great state of Georgia, John Walker takes on the Super-Patriot mantle after his agent convinces him that he can use his super strength and agility better as a patriotic “hero” than as a part of the wrestling group run by the Power Broker, who gave him his powers.
So Walker gets a patriotic costume and stages rallies where he talks about how Captain America is old and doesn’t represent the best of America. Eventually his friends–disguised as Bold Urban Commandoes (aka Buckies) who wear Captain America masks–attack and he stages a victory.
But Captain America sees that something is fishy and follows up, ultimately confronting Walker and his agent at a dinner.
Over the course of the next several months, we learn more and more about Walker and his story. It serves as a side-by-side storyline as we watch Steve Rogers wrestle with whether or not he will agree to this special commission request to serve as Captain America, but at their bidding of the government.
All of it culminates in Captain America walking away and the government deciding to turn John Walker into the new Captain America.
Steve Rogers then essentially vanishes from the comic for awhile before returning with a new superhero personae and taking back the mantle of Captain America. (And because it is classic Captain America, the Red Skull was behind it all!)
Why should you know about Super-Patriot? (SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME!) The assumption is that the power brokers of the MCU like General Thunderbolt are not going to be happy that old Steve Rogers handed over the shield to Sam Wilson aka The Falcon. That could set Super-Patriot as the main antagonist in the Falcon and Winter Soldier series.
The Super-Patriot storyline certainly has a lot of material to mine, as you can create the two different narratives about how each sees America. How will the MCU let Falcon speak to what it means to have grown up as a black man in America versus the farm-bred John Walker, who makes speeches in the comics that feel like he is at a modern day rally, and not in a good way?
And in the comics, Walker has a sad, dark twist that drives him into very dark territory. If they chose to explore that, you could see some great, dynamic storytelling in the Falcon and Winter Soldier series!
John Walker’s story is ultimately resolved in the comics and, eventually, Walker becomes a hero himself, playing a part in a lot of teams and series, most notably The West Coast Avengers and FORCE Works as US Agent.
He even confronts Sam Wilson as Captain America in a recent run. So it isn’t even outside the realm of possibility that we could see this new Super-Patriot become a future MCU Avenger!
John Walker first appeared in Captain America #323. He’ll be played by Wyatt Russell in the upcoming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on Disney+. And the story is collected in a Captain America “Epic Collection” available from Amazon or, better yet, your FLGS.