Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Marvel's Flag-Smashers Explained

In the wake of the highly successful WandaVision, Marvel Studios and Disney+ are now revving up for their next project. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to hit the streaming platform on March 19, 2021, for its premiere episode, and it's plain to see that it will tonally depart from its predecessor. The Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (James "Bucky" Barnes/Winter Soldier)-led series will boast a more action-oriented presentation complete with espionage, military operations, and more. The reason behind this tone comes by virtue of the villain of the piece, the purple ski mask-wearing Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl).

Introduced in 2016 for Captain America: Civil War, the crafty Sokovian mastermind personally orchestrated the dissolution of the Avengers. Despite being captured near the end of the film by Black Panther (the late Chadwick Boseman), at the time of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he has apparently escaped custody. Conniving and ruthless as ever, he's sure to cause quite a ruckus for the titular heroes, and, to make matters worse, it appears as though he won't be the only antagonist they'll have to deal with. Promotional material has also pointed to a mysterious faction whose members wear black masks adorned with red handprints.

This group is known as the Flag-Smashers, and they'll likely give both Falcon and Bucky quite a run for their money. Here's what you need to know about them.

The Flag-Smasher was original just one person

On the Disney+ program, the Flag-Smashers are clearly made up of multiple individuals. However, on the pages of Marvel Comics, they're actually represented by just one person. Debuting in Captain America #312 in December of 1985, Karl Morgenthau burst onto the scene as a passionate anti-nationalist.  Naturally, this made him a frequent foe for a later incarnation of Cap, John Walker, as well as other notable names like the Punisher and Moon Knight. Despite their rivalry, he has teamed up with the Star-Spangled Man as necessary, specifically to put a stop to Red Skull.

In an effort to bring others to his cause, Flag-Smasher established ULTIMATUM – The Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind — which took up a terror campaign to bring common people together, regardless of national identity (more on this point later). They never succeed in their mission, and Morgenthau is assassinated by Domino, leaving Guy Thierrault to take up the mantle. His tenure didn't last very long and eventually ended, along with ULTIMATUM, thanks to Deadpool's intervention in their evil schemes.

Karl Morgenthau won't be appearing on Falcon and the Winter Soldier, because Solo: A Star Wars Story's Erin Kellyman will portray Karli Morgenthau — a female rendition of the character. Whether or not Guy Thierrault will pop up in any form remains to be seen.

Dreams of a world without borders

In print, the main drive behind Flag-Smasher's criminal activities is his societal ideology. Karl Morgenthau grew up as the son of a Swiss diplomat, who lost his life during a riot in Latveria. After this traumatic event, the young Morgenthau grew to despise the state of the world, expressing his disdain for countries and the national pride that residents can feel from their existence. He felt nationalism created a societal hierarchy that bred bigotry, hate, and a false sense of superiority. 

Thus, Morgenthau made it his mission to wake the masses up and encourage their rejection of the system. This led him to create ULTIMATUM and use it as a means to mobilize. He needed the people on his side if his movement was ever going to gain traction. Falcon and the Winter Soldier seems to combine Flag-Smasher and ULTIMATUM to create the Flag-Smashers group. If that's the case, then their goals of uniting the world under one banner could become a focal point of this Marvel Cinematic Universe chapter. 

As of this writing, there's no way to know for certain what their true motives are, so we'll all just have to watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier unfold for the next six weeks for some definitive answers.