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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Who is Sharon Carter/Agent 13?

Sharon Carter
(Image credit: John Romita Jr. (Marvel Comics))

Emily Van Camp's Sharon Carter has returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Disney Plus's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. And given her sparse but cagey MCU history, the series has another very mysterious player in the game of espionage surrounding the Flag-Smashers, the black market Super Soldier Serum, the Power Broker, the legacy of Steve Rogers, and another brand-new chess piece we're not going to reveal here. 

But Sharon's movie and now TV history, what little we really know of it, differs significantly from her comic book story, in which she is Steve Rogers' longest (and current) romantic partner.

While it's too soon to say exactly what her ultimate role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is, digging into her past as one of Marvel's premier espionage agents (Agent 13, to be exact) may shed some light on exactly what Sharon is capable of and where she may be headed in the series finale and the MCU moving forward.

Who is Sharon Carter/Agent 13?

image of Sharon Carter

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As in the MCU, Sharon Carter is Peggy's grand-niece in comic books (though she was technically introduced as Peggy's sister in Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers' Tales of Suspense #75 in 1966, a relationship that was later retconned).

And as in comics books, Steve Rogers has managed to romance both Peggy and Sharon. Unlike in the MCU, Steve and Sharon's romance is much more prominent, going far beyond their MCU counterparts' flirtation in Captain America: Winter Soldier and kiss in its sequel Captain America: Civil War (not counting anything unrevealed that may have happened off-camera before or after).

In comic books, Steve and Sharon have a years-long relationship that has survived break-ups, dimensional divides, and even death and resurrection – both Steve's and Sharon's.

Steve's comic book history with Peggy Carter stretches back to World War II where Peggy was a fighter in the French resistance. A child of privilege, her niece Sharon chose to follow in Peggy's footsteps after hearing tales of her daring wartime adventures.

Sharon quickly rose through the ranks of SHIELD to take on the codename of Agent 13, a special agent taking on super-criminals. As a result, she and Steve wound up working together regularly, first teaming up against Batroc the Leaper before taking on Hydra, AIM, and even the Red Skull together. 

Over the course of their ersatz partnership, Steve and Sharon fall in love (by this point in comic books Peggy has fully moved on and is much older than Steve, though Peggy's own long comic history has its share of twists and turns).

However, their relationship is cut short when Sharon goes deep undercover in a villainous white supremacist group known as the National Guard. During a battle in 1979's Captain America #237, Sharon apparently dies while under mind control, leaving Steve in grief.

And for almost 20 years, she was gone from Steve's life – until 1995's Captain America #444 from Mark Waid and Ron Garney, which revealed that Sharon's death had been faked to send her even deeper undercover, with the truth now revealed to Steve so he could mount a rescue attempt to extract her from behind enemy lines.

In the now 26 years since, the pair have been through even more hardship, though time and time again their relationship has prevailed with Sharon and Steve almost always finding each other no matter the circumstances.

Sharon Carter in the Marvel Universe

image of Sharon Carter

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have worked together steadily since Sharon's 1995 resurrection, though their partnership hasn't been without its share of challenges.

During Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's landmark 'Winter Soldier' storyline (which was adapted to film and of course forms part of the basis for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Sharon is kidnapped by Winter Soldier while he's under the control of the villainous Aleksander Lukin, who is himself partially controlled by the consciousness of the Red Skull. At the time, Sharon is serving as SHIELD director - a role she'll take on multiple times over the years.

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Following Bucky Barnes' deprogramming as the Winter Soldier, Steve is apparently assassinated by Sharon herself under the mind control of the hypnotic Doctor Faustus while Steve is in custody for battling Tony Stark and defying the Super Human Registration Act (SHRA) in Civil War, which, like Winter Soldier, lent its title to a Captain America sequel.

However, Steve isn't actually dead – just displaced in time, reliving his worst moments over and over as part of a scheme to punish him by his arch-enemies including Red Skull and Doctor Faustus. Working alongside Bucky, who has become the new Captain America in Steve's absence, Sharon is instrumental in rescuing Steve and restoring him to life in the present day – a common theme in Steve's life and in his relationship with Sharon that won't end there.

Before resuming his career as Captain America, Steve worked together with Sharon as agents of SHIELD, founding the black ops style Secret Avengers squad, of which Sharon was also a field agent, making her an official Avenger.

Not long after Steve went back to being Captain America, resuming the mantle from Bucky, he was trapped in the mysterious Dimension Z (in a story from Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr. appropriately titled 'Castaway in Dimension Z'), a pocket world designed by the mad scientist Arnim Zola where time flowed differently and mutants roam a seemingly endless wasteland around Zola's castle/laboratory.

Though Steve is only trapped for a few hours or days in the real world, in Dimension Z, years pass, with Steve wandering the wasteland while raising and training a young Zola clone named Ian, adopting him as his own son. When Sharon finds Steve and invades Dimension Z, tragedy strikes again, with both Sharon and Ian apparently dead with Steve and Jet, another Zola clone who was also his greatest enforcer, the only survivors and escapees of Dimension Z.

However, in typical fashion, Sharon later escaped Dimension Z and returned to the Marvel Universe alongside Ian, who she raised herself after both survived their seeming deaths. 

Now reunited, Sharon and Steve's relationship only had to survive Steve getting aged up to an elderly man after losing his Super Soldier Serum, Red Skull restoring Steve while secretly turning him into an agent of Hydra in the story Secret Empire, Hydra Steve and Sharon trying to kill each other, and finally Steve returning to normal, with the pair finally able to resume their romance.

Well, until Steve was accused of murdering General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross in Ta-Nehisi Coates' soon-to-conclude Captain America run, after which Sharon helped clear Steve's name.

And now, maybe soon, they'll get some quiet time (this being comic books, probably not).

Sharon Carter in the MCU

image of Emily Van Camp as Sharon Carter in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Sharon Carter's MCU history is a bit more mysterious than her comic book life, in part because it hasn't been explored much on screen. We know she was inspired to become a SHIELD agent by her great aunt Peggy Carter, as in comics, and we know she was often Steve's ally in SHIELD before he retired to the past with Peggy in Avengers: Endgame, even sharing a brief romance with him.

We also know that when Steve's MCU Civil War allies, including Sam Wilson, were captured by SHIELD for violating the Sokovia Accords (kinda the MCU version of the SHRA), she broke them out of prison, making herself a fugitive on behalf of Steve.

And, as of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode three which brings Emily Van Camp's Sharon Carter into the mix alongside Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Baron Zemo, we also know Sharon's quite bitter about living a life on the run as a black market art dealer in Madripoor.

Or least that's her cover story. Remember, this is a character we were introduced to as a SHIELD agent flirting with and pretending to be Steve's neighbor to spy on him. You can't take her story at full-face value. 

Right now she's a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and experienced espionage agent, and she's apparently very cynical. 

But her cagey attitude, her set-up as a major power player in Madripoor, and so-far mysterious and seemingly duplicitous actions in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have left an open road for speculation on how the MCU version of Steve's longtime comic book paramour will wind up fitting into his onscreen heroic legacy – even whether she'll wind up being friend or foe when the chips fall.

Has her bitterness over being a United States fugitive really resulted in a heel turn? Or is her living as an outlaw in an outlaw city part of an elaborate cover? 

We'll see if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale holds any answers. 

Sharon Carter has been part of some of the best Captain America stories of all time.

Newsarama staff writer who learned to read from comic books and hasn’t shut up about them since.