Those who caught the pilot episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier after it premiered on Friday, March 19, likely had two different reactions to the ending. They either balked at the sight of Captain America wannabe U.S. Agent holding the famous star-spangled shield, or pondered at the sight of Wyatt Russell, the actor playing the Steve Rogers replacement, wondering if they may have seen him before.
Well, chances are that you probably have seen the 34-year-old Los Angeles native in a decent number of things, but had trouble placing him with his clean-shaven mug under that helmet instead of the long blonde hair and beard he usually sports most of the time. You might be able to identify him even better as the second generation in his family to be a part of the Marvel movies’ continuity after his dad, Kurt Russell, starred in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Ego.
Yeah, that’s right: this is the son of both Escape from New York’s Snake Plissken and Goldie Hawn we are talking about here, so despite how much fans hate John Walker, his character on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I think we should show the real man a little a respect. In fact, in honor of his debut into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let us take a look at some of Wyatt Russell’s most notable roles thus far, starting with the humble beginnings of his acting roots.
Escape From L.A. (1996)
You might not have so easily spotted an uncredited, 10-year-old Wyatt Russell in John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. as one of several young orphans being held outside of the post-apocalyptic penal colony that was once Los Angeles. However, this would be not only his debut film role, but the first of two times he appeared in a movie with his dad, Kurt Russell, reprising his badass, anti-heroic character from Escape from New York in a sequel released almost two decades later. The second would be 1998 sci-fi flop Soldier (from original Mortal Kombat director Paul W.S. Anderson), in which Wyatt played his father’s younger self.
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Wyatt Russell’s acting career did not really take off until he reached his 20s, but even then he was still taking some pretty small roles, such as this character in Cowboys & Aliens that I genuinely had no recollection of until now. In the sci-fi/Western hybrid from executive producer Steven Spielberg and director Jon Favreau in which Daniel Craig plays a 19th-Century amnesiac outlaw battling extra-terrestrials, Russell plays Little Mickey, one of the troublesome cattle handlers employed by Harrison Ford’s character, Woodrow Dolarhyde.
This Is 40 (2012)
The following year, Wyatt Russell landed a slightly more noticeable role (despite not having any lines) in Judd Apatow’s This is 40 as one of the hockey players hitting on Megan Fox and Leslie Mann’s characters at a club. The fascinating thing about his appearance, alongside real members of the Philadelphia Flyers, is that Russell was actually an avid hockey player before he took up acting as his main career.
Goon: Last Of The Enforcers (2017)
Eventually, Wyatt Russell got to relive his roots of chasing the puck around for a role in Goon: Last of the Enforcers, a sequel to the 2011 cult comedy in which washed-up bouncer Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) earns a second chance as a semi-pro hockey team’s violent secret weapon. Doug’s career is threatened, however, when Russell’s young, ambitious hot shot Anders Cain gives him a devastating taste of his own medicine.
22 Jump Street (2014)
Before merging his hockey talents with his acting talents in Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Wyatt Russell experimented with portraying a couple different kinds of athletes. His first experiment was in 22 Jump Street, another sequel to a surprise comedy hit with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill infiltrating a college campus this time. Russell plays Zook - a football player who befriends Tatum’s Jenko and is later discovered to be a customer of the drug ring he and Schmidt (Hill) are investigating.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
In his next onscreen athletic experiment, Wyatt Russell embodied a college baseball pitcher circa 1980 named Charlie Willoughby, who makes no secret of his love for getting stoned and listening to Pink Floyd but is hiding the fact that he is actually 30 years old (and really was at the time). The film was Everybody Wants Some!!, another quirky, nostalgic experiment with time from writer and director Richard Linklater that would serve as spiritual sequel to his 1994 ‘70s high school flashback Dazed and Confused (as the marketing would claim, that is).
Black Mirror (2016)
That same year, Wyatt Russell really got to show off his dramatic chops more deeply than ever as the lead of one of the best Black Mirror episodes (and one of the most terrifying on record) if you ask me. In “Playtest” from Season 3 (the technophobic anthology series’ first as a Netflix exclusive), his cash-strapped tourist character Cooper Redfield volunteers himself as a guinea pig for a virtual reality game that quickly becomes too disturbing and oddly familiar for him to distinguish what is virtual from what is reality.
Soon after his horrifying Black Mirror experience, Wyatt Russell would soon make an epic return to horror in a film that is also crossed with the genre that made his dad one of the biggest stars of the ‘80s. In the action-packed World War II period piece Overlord, Corporal Ford (Russell) and the soldiers he suddenly becomes the leader to discover that Nazis are hiding something that preemptively reminded audiences of the zombie levels in Call of Duty games.
Lodge 49 (2018-2019)
In the same year that he played a tough military officer, Wyatt Russell reverted back to the aimless stoner persona he so perfectly encapsulated in Everybody Wants Some!! as the series lead of this obscure dramedy that aired on AMC for two seasons. His character, Sean “Dud” Dudley, is an all too easy-going beach bum who gets the chance to finally be somebody when he uncovers the titular secret society of Lodge 49.
Coincidentally, Wyatt Russell’s Lodge 49 co-star Bruce Campbell (who appears in three episodes of Season 1) also makes an almost completely unrecognizable cameo in Escape from L.A. Even crazier, both he and Kurt Russell have also played Elvis at different points in their careers (Russell in a TV biopic directed by John Carpenter and Campbell in the horror-comedy Bubba Ho-Tep in 2002). That may have been a bit of stretch from the topic of Wyatt, but amusing nonetheless, eh?