Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
In a twist that many saw coming, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s season finale confirmed that Sharon Carter is actually the Power Broker. As the kingpin of the criminal haven of Madripoor, Sharon was responsible for funding the development of the super soldier serum used by the Flag Smashers, who were actually her personal paramilitary force before they abandoned her to pursue their own goals.
In “One World, One People,” Sam Wilson comes through on his promise to get Sharon pardoned by the U.S. government, but she isn’t at all interested in returning to her old law-abiding life. Instead, Sharon intends to use her newly recovered access to put “government secrets, prototype weapons, you name it” on the black market for anyone to buy. Optimistically, that could mean more superpowered vigilantes using their Power Broker-bought abilities for good. More realistically, it means the bad guys of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are about to become even more dangerous.
In Marvel Comics, the Power Broker is a mantle belonging to different characters who all play the same role: selling superpowers to the highest bidder. It was from the Power Broker that the comic book version of John Walker obtained his super soldier serum. But why would a character like Sharon Carter, who has previously been on the side of the good guys, become the MCU’s newest villain?
How Sharon Carter Became The Power Broker
Sharon Carter’s evolution into the Power Broker unfortunately feels a bit underwritten, in large part because of the decision to make it a post-credits twist rather than something that was known throughout the series. But Sharon did actually lay out her reasons for becoming the Power Broker to Bucky and Sam, even if she didn’t tell them the full story. When Sam made the observation that “it looks like breaking all those laws is treating you well,” Sharon replied, “At some point I thought if I had to hustle I might as well enjoy the life of a real hustler.” Though it seemed she was only referring to stolen artwork, Sharon’s hustling actually involves far more expensive and dangerous products.
After helping out Captain America, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier while they were fugitives in Captain America: Civil War, Sharon herself was made a fugitive and – unlike the others – was never pardoned. She fled to Madripoor, which doesn’t allow extradition, and used her Carter wiles and adaptability to rise to the top of the ladder as Madripoor’s new pirate queen. Her experience as a spy taught her the value of secrecy and protecting her true identity, so she began operating under the alias of Power Broker and pursued a growing market: superpowers.
Why Sharon Chose To Betray The Government
Though it might seem surprising that Peggy Carter’s niece and an important ally to Captain America is now a villain planning to sell government secrets to the highest bidder, Sharon becoming the Power Broker does fit with her story arc in the MCU. Sharon made her first appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a friendly and flirty neighbor who seemed innocent enough – until she came bursting into Steve Rogers’ apartment armed with a gun. Steve then learned that “Kate” was actually Agent 13, and had been planted in his building by Nick Fury to spy on him. In hindsight, this introduction works as foreshadowing for Sharon’s heel turn in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Sharon’s appearances in the MCU have also offered up plenty of reasons why she would become disillusioned with her work for the U.S. government. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier it was revealed that SHIELD – the agency co-founded by Peggy Carter, where Sharon had been a loyal agent for years – had actually been corrupted by HYDRA from the very start. Then, in Captain America: Civil War, Sharon took a risk to do the right thing and retrieve Captain America’s shield and Falcon’s wings for them. She was rewarded for this bravery and altruism by being made into a fugitive. This left her jaded not only towards her government, but towards superheroes as well. Sharon offered a glimpse of this new outlook when she challenged Sam: “You know the whole hero thing is a joke, right? I mean, the way you gave up that shield, deep down you must know it’s all hypocrisy.”
Sharon’s villain turn could also be attributed to Steve Rogers kissing her and then apparently forgetting about her completely and leaving to go back in time and marry her aunt. However, there’s little to indicate that Sharon was actually in love with Steve. The truly bad break-up was between Sharon and the government that betrayed her twice. It’s little wonder that she has no interest in returning to a straight-laced government job, and no longer regards state secrets as sacred. After all, Sharon witnessed Project Insight – a surveillance operation developed by SHIELD – being weaponized as part of a HYDRA plot to slaughter 20 million people. She may well have come to the conclusion that cutting-edge weaponry is no safer in the hands of the military than it is in the hands of black market bidders, so she might as well get rich off it.
Sharon Carter’s Future As The MCU’s Power Broker
Like the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the Power Broker sees the current state of affairs in the MCU – with superheroes and supervillains popping up left and right – as an opportunity to make money. Sharon’s intention is to sell prototype tech and weapons developed by the government, and WandaVision demonstrated just how advanced some of that tech is when SWORD unleashed White Vision in an attempt to end Wanda Maximoff’s takeover of Westview. SWORD (which stands for Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) has graduated beyond simply observing weapons and into creating them, and Sharon’s restored access could very well lead to SWORD tech ending up in the hands of supervillains.
Sharon’s new role means that she could effectively pop up in any number of upcoming MCU movies and TV shows as a black market hook-up for those seeking to either fight superheroes, or become them. While she’s unlikely to be the main villain in any stories, expect to see her again as a recurring character providing a shortcut to tech and weaponry for anyone who can afford her prices.