SPOILER WARNING: This story discusses events from Season 1, Episode 3 of Disney Plus’ “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
The last time Emily VanCamp appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, she was illegally aiding Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” — and stealing a kiss from him for good measure. Sharon’s actions force her to go on the run; she doesn’t return for either “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Avengers: Endgame.” VanCamp never expected she’d appear in the MCU again.
While shooting the Fox medical series “The Resident,” however, the 34-year-old got a call asking if she was interested in reprising Sharon Carter in the Disney Plus series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” starring her “Civil War” compatriots Anthony Mackie (as Sam Wilson) and Sebastian Stan (as Bucky Barnes).
“Marvel, when they call, you always answer,” VanCamp says.
In 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Civil War,” Sharon is an idealistic young agent who is always keen to do the right thing — she’s the niece of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and Marvel) legend, agent Peggy Carter, after all. But when we meet her again on Episode 3 of “FAWS,” titled “Power Broker,” Sharon is a changed woman. She thinks nothing of gunning down a series of goons when she swoops in to Sam and Bucky’s rescue in the (fictional) lawless island nation of Madripoor, where Sharon’s been holed up since “Civil War.” She scoffs at Sam’s idealism, telling him, “You know the whole hero thing is a joke, right?” She lives in a posh penthouse that doubles as a showcase for major stolen art. And she is curiously well-connected within Madripoor’s network of villainy, so much so that some began to speculate that Sharon could be the as-yet-unidentified Big Bad of the season, the Power Broker.
Understandably, VanCamp couldn’t outright spoil whether Sharon is indeed the mastermind behind the sudden proliferation of super soldiers on “FAWS.” But she did have some revealing insights into her character, as well as what it was like to return to the MCU after so many years away.
How did it feel to be invited back to play Sharon Carter?
Great! I was thinking about it the other day and realized it’s been about eight years since I started on this journey in the MCU, which is crazy. It’s amazing to get to jump back in in this new medium, because with the movies, you’re trying to fit in so many characters into two hours, and with the streaming, six hour version of this [show], you get to tell the story with a little bit more depth.
It always felt like there was so much left to explore. The last time we see her, she had kissed Captain America and then disappeared.
I know! There was quite a bit of backlash about that. With Sharon, it was always trying to fit her in and these movies are just too big, and it’s completely understandable. To get to see who she’s become over this long period of time, and independent of Captain America as we know him, is really interesting to me. The intrigue for me was to see who is Sharon now.
You mentioned the backlash to that kiss. What did you make of that?
I mean, look, you have to laugh. Some of these storylines play and some of them don’t. But, you know, I thought that was an amazing film. It’s just one of those things.
Personally, I thought that the chemistry between you and Chris Evans was pretty evident. I was a little surprised by how strongly people felt about it.
Yeah, I think we all were. I mean, we certainly did our best. And I think one of the best things that came out of that scene, to be honest, with this amazing dynamic between Sam and Bucky. You really do get this glimpse into the Falcon and Winter Soldier buddy dynamic. You want to see more of that, and we get to see it, which is fantastic.
How specifically did Marvel pitch Sharon on “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” to you?
When [executive producer] Nate Moore called to pitch the idea, what I love is he’s been on the journey, too, and I think had a very similar perspective as to what we’ve seen and we haven’t seen for Sharon. Because obviously, she’s had to be on the run. We don’t know where she’s been. All of these kind of crazy ideas to explore.
It was surprising to see how disillusioned Sharon had become since “Civil War.” How did you develop for yourself how she got to that particular point?
Through a lot of conversations, because it could have really been anything. What we do know is she sacrificed a tremendous amount for the cause. When she’s on the run, we don’t know where she’s been, but certainly you can imagine there would be some sort of, you know, I mean — how do I put it? There’s quite a bit more edge to Sharon than we’ve ever seen. She’s not that wide eyed young agent anymore. She’s a little rough around the edges. Do we find out exactly what she’s had to do in order to be where she is now and survive? No. But we get a sense that it hasn’t always been easy, and that the sacrifices she’s made weren’t always worth it in her mind. That was kind of cool to see that chip on her shoulder that we never really did see before.
It’s quite a different approach to Sharon, who I don’t think ever really got to be that dark in the comics. She was always a do-gooder kind of character in a lot of ways.
And that’s where you trust Marvel at the MCU, which is different than the comic books. They give you this Bible for your character of the different versions of the character from all the different comic books. It gives you a jumping off point, but really, the beautiful thing is they allow you to kind of create your own version of the character within the MCU, and they do that with the story as well.
You get this fundamental idea of who the character is, and I tried to implement into films who Sharon was — that deep respect, and sense of integrity and loyalty that she has. Then to strip away that after being in her mind quite wronged — to put that on its head was just a really fun idea to me. There’s still a few more episodes to see where we go with that, but it was just fascinating that we would take a different route completely with her.
When did you realize that you have a lot more action to do than you ever did in the movies?
It was talked about while the scripts were being written, like, “Well, you’re gonna have to do fight training. We’ve got some sequences for you that are going to be a little harder than maybe you’ve done before.” That always excites me. And the training was definitely much more intense than it’s ever been. We had the best stunt team and they take such amazing care of us and just really prepare us for those moments. In Episode 3, there is a crazy Sharon fight sequence. She’s kind of on her own. It was just really fun to tackle that. In that version of what we were doing, you can’t really hide behind weapons or superpowers. It’s just really gritty fighting, and so that was that was super cool to learn all these new techniques and kick some butt.
How much training did you have to do?
As much as I possibly could fit in. I was shooting “The Resident” at the same time. Luckily, both shot in Atlanta. The great thing is Marvel has a special stunt stage on its own. They’re all in there every day making choreography and teaching and training, and kind of just leave it open for whenever you can be there. So whenever I wasn’t shooting “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” or “The Resident,” I would be in there as much as I possibly could. We went through several different versions of how she fights now versus who she was as an agent. It’s fun to figure out how to give her that raw edge, but also show that she’s a trained fighter. There’s a mix of scrappy street fighting with her technical background. There was no way around putting the time. As much as you may only see little glimpses on air, you have to be ready, or else you really will get your butt kicked.
The show has yet to reveal the identity of one of the main villains, the Power Broker. So what would you say to people who noticed several signs in this week’s episode that the Power Broker could be Sharon?
Well, that’s a good question. I mean, the Power Broker could be anybody. Also, there are several characters that have yet to be seen. So, I mean, I can’t say anything.
I know that you can’t spoil anything, but I’m sure as you’re reading the script for this episode, you’re also seeing the possible signs about who Sharon could be. As an actor, how do you figure out how to metabolize all that into your performance?
I think for Sharon, the biggest goal — as you see in Episode 3 and we’ll continue to see — is she wants to be pardoned. She’s been on the run. Enough is enough. She’s sacrificed enough. And — if I’m talking about reading the scripts in sequence — that’s her main goal, and rightfully so. She comes from this bloodline of agents and has this tremendous love for her life that she had, and now she’s stuck in this sort of pirate land, and doing things that she’s probably not really wanted to do. So I think that’s her main goal, to get back to some semblance of the life that she had, if that’s even possible. I mean, that was my biggest take. This is her ticket. She sees [Sam and Bucky], and as much as in her mind there are many reasons that she would just want to lash out and ruin their lives, they’re also a ticket for her to get her life back. So that’s an interesting dynamic to see as well.
I have to ask about a different show you were on, “Revenge.” There was some talk of a possible revival of the show with a new character who would be guided on their revenge plot by someone from the original series. Would you ever want to revisit that world as well?
It’s been talked about, and I know that they were going to revive maybe in a different way, and I was super supportive and excited for that, too. I just don’t know that they really found a way that makes sense or that they really want to do yet. But, listen, I mean, if I’ve learned anything in this industry is never say never. I do feel that, you know, in terms of Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke, her story really did come to an end. But again, you never know. I mean, I honestly didn’t think that I would be playing Sharon again, and here I am.
***This interview has been edited and condensed.