Skip to main content

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Who is the Power Broker?

The Power Broker
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode six is now streaming on Disney Plus, and the show's finale has major revelations about the show's real villains and who exactly who has been manipulating events behind the scenes - particularly the mysterious Power Broker.

Name checked in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode two before being expanded on in episode three as one of the crime bosses of Madripoor, the Power Broker is a secretive villain who sells access to super powers. That's a history the Power Broker carries over from comic books, where he is a villain who provides bootleg super powers at a great cost – even powering up John Walker, in comic books.

Though the MCU has drastically altered the nature of who the Power Broker is (we'll get into it), we're looking back at the comic book history of the villain, and how his legacy relates to the MCU and its future.

Who is the Power Broker?

image of the Power Broker

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Created by Jack Kirby in 1978's Machine Man #7 (opens in new tab), the man who would become Power Broker started as Curtiss Jackson, a member of the villainous Corporation who fought not only Machine Man but Hulk and even Captain America and the Falcon themselves.

It wasn't until 1986's The Thing #35 that writer Mike Carlin brought Jackson back as the Power Broker, a mysterious crime lord who sells superpowers to those desperate enough to pay his prices, or even worse find themselves in his debt.

The Power Broker then teams up with a mad scientist named Karl Malus: a geneticist to be exact, obsessed with engineering superpowers and splicing animal and human DNA.

In comics, one of Malus' subjects was Joaquin Torres, who he spliced with falcon DNA. Subjects such as Torres gained superhuman strength and other abilities relative to their animal counterpart, but also became addicted to the chemicals that provide their strength – and which sometimes left their bodies horribly mutated, physically.

At first Jackson and Malus – the so-called Power Broker Corporation – provided super strength to fighters looking to join Marvel's Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, which only allowed entrants with superpowers. As Ben Grimm/The Thing was participating in UCWF at the time, in a feud with 'Dynamite' Dennis Dunphy (himself a future superhero known as Demolition Man or D-Man), he became embroiled in the scandal of the Power Broker's addictive super strength.

In a fairly dark and serious story for its time which tackled addiction and even sexual assault, Thing winds up teaming up with Dunphy and the newly crowned Ms. Marvel Sharon Ventura (the second hero to use the name, while Carol Danvers was depowered) to defeat the Power Broker and end Malus's experiments.

A few years later, writer Mark Gruenwald (creator of US Agent, Flag-Smasher, and numerous other enduring aspects of the Captain America mythos that have been adapted into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) brought the Power Broker back in 1987's Captain America #329 (opens in new tab), revealing that the Power Broker is the person behind US Agent and his sidekick Battlestar's super strength (which they are said not to possess in the MCU).

Power Broker remained a steady presence in Captain America's life, eventually falling prey to the Scourge of the Underworld, a violent vigilante who murders dozens of supervillains. Barely escaping with his life, Power Broker is forced to use his own process on himself, though as it does for many unfortunate subjects, the experiment goes terribly awry and Power Broker grows into a musclebound monstrosity so inhumanly huge that he can't move.

Power Broker and his former ally Malus then turn on each other, with Power Broker gaining the advantage and forcing Malus to build him an exo-suit capable of supporting his massive body and allowing him to harness its incredible strength.

Jackson continued his villainous career as the Power Broker for years, even teaming up with the evil fascist Red Skull in his attempts to conquer the world, and later bonding with a strange mind-controlling alien entity in his own attempt at conquest.

But it all came to an end in 2012's Punisher #13 (opens in new tab), when Frank Castle shot Jackson dead.

Power Broker in the Marvel Universe

image of the Power Broker

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Curtiss Jackson/Power Broker is responsible for the super powers of more than a few Marvel heroes and villains, including the aforementioned US Agent, Battlestar, and Sharon Ventura. But that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the characters he's empowered. 

There's also Titania, once considered the strongest woman in the Marvel Universe (and a member of the upcoming Gamma Flight title); Screaming Mimi, who later became Songbird of the Thunderbolts; a whole team called the Power Tools; the villainous Vagabond, and more.

And of course, Power Broker has been a foe of not just Captain America, but the Hulk, the Thing, Machine Man, and more – though his connections to Cap run deepest of all, mostly thanks to John Walker.

Shortly before the Power Broker's death at the hands of the Punisher, a new Power Broker surfaced in 2007's Avengers: The Initiative Annual #1 (opens in new tab) as part of the origin of the Initiative hero Hardball.

This version was dormant for a few years, but after the original Power Broker's death, the new guy (whose real name has never been revealed) resurfaced in 2015's Astonishing Ant-Man #1 (opens in new tab), trying to get the villainous Darren Cross (known to fans of the MCU as Ant-Man movie villain Yellowjacket) to invest in an app called HENCH that would allow rich criminals to hire supervillains to do their bidding.

The second Power Broker became a primary enemy for Scott Lang during Astonishing Ant-Man, empowering his daughter Cassie Lang who previously used Pym Particles to shrink and grow as the Young Avenger Stature, before losing her abilities. Restoring her size-changing powers and giving her the codename and costume of Stinger, Power Broker attempts to turn Cassie against her father, only for Scott and Cassie to team up and take him down.

This Power Broker then changed his app to HENCH X, an app that would give anyone who could afford to use it super powers – though this also backfired, and Stinger eventually tracked him down and captured him, and that was the last time anyone saw the second Power Broker.

Power Broker in the MCU

Power Broker

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Initially, Power Broker didn't appear on camera in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – only by name, mentioned in the end credits of episode one, spoken in episode two, with the villain's involvement in the plot expanded on in episode three.

In the MCU, the Power Broker is actually Sharon Carter, a former hero turned seeming double agent who is one of the underworld leaders of the lawless island nation of Madripoor. Like with the comic book Power Broker, Sharon sells super powers, in this case turning to a black market version of the Super Soldier Serum to develop them.

That serum was developed by Dr. Wilfred Nagle based on blood samples from Isaiah Bradley, himself a secret Super Soldier (in comic books, Nagle is the scientist who experimented on Bradley in the first place). Nagle crafted 20 samples of a designer Super Soldier Serum, all of which were stolen by Karli Morgenthau of the Flag-Smashers and presumably distributed among members of her group, resulting in the Super Soldiers fought by Sam, Bucky, John Walker, and Battlestar in episode two.

image of the Dr. Wilfred Nagle in the MCU

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Keep in mind, if you closely rewatch episode four, Zemo kills Nagle just as Sharon enters his lab and Nagle sees her coming, indicating Zemo may know something about who is who and what is what.

Now, with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wrapped up and Sharon Carter revealed as the real identity of the Power Broker, things only seem to be heating up with her storyline. 

The show only scratched the surface in terms of what Sharon's actual motivations are, though by the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode six she's been restored as a United States intelligence operative, promising her unrevealed contacts that she'll soon have access to all kinds of experimental tech to sell as the Power Broker.

This may have been her long game all the time, to gain Sam's trust to get her the pardon and access to the intelligence community.

What's left unsaid is exactly who Sharon is working with, and what her main goals are. With Disney Plus's Secret Invasion MCU show on the horizon, Sharon could even be a Skrull in disguise. And with Sharon gathering new power sources, she could be working alongside Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who seems to be organizing her own team of heroes starting with U.S. Agent - maybe the Thunderbolts?

As of right now, the doors are all open, and nothing can be taken for granted - especially with shapeshifting Skrulls lurking around.

The Power Broker has allied himself with some of the best Captain America villains ever.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)