“Hey! Let’s hear it for Captain America!”
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
The second mini series of Marvel’s phase four has finished, and boy was it an explosive ride from frolicking in the meadows to tackling race in America.
Just like with “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” did an excellent job at character development, but the story surrounding that development wasn’t at the same level.
What I’ve loved about these limited series, so far, is that they’ve covered deeply painful aspects of life through the heroes. “WandaVision” took us through Wanda’s grief and ultimate acceptance. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” took us through Bucky’s PTSD and guilt as well as Sam struggling with fighting for a country that has long oppressed his people.
These are some heavy themes, and they’re handled beautifully.
Bringing in Isaiah Bradley was a brilliant way to illustrate why Sam taking up the mantle of Captain America was not an easy decision.
The story of Isiah Bradley is devastating, but not surprising. Isaiah Bradley was a super soldier just like Steve Rogers, but he was tortured and forgotten so the government could uplift and honor his white counterpart.
80 years later, they tried to do it again with Sam Wilson. In the first episode we see a government official tell Sam he’s doing the right thing by giving up the shield. Not because they want to preserve Steve’s legacy, but because they don’t want to hand it off to a Black man. They completely ignored Steve’s last wish because they wanted a white man to represent America.
This is why Sam taking up the mantle was so difficult for him, but also why it was so powerful when he did. Sam is going to be the next Captain America, not despite what his country has done to Black people, but because of what they’ve done. He’s going to fight for his country so his family, Isaiah and Black Americans have someone to look up to after hundreds of years of oppression.
This was a very poignant theme in the series, and the same goes for Bucky’s arc.
Sam tells Bucky that he’s not making amends for his past, he’s avenging, and that he needs to do the work.
Healing is not convincing yourself that you’re doing better, it’s putting in the effort no matter how hard it is. Once you do that, you’ll be happier and at peace.
We see Bucky have that dreaded conversation telling a friend of his that he killed his son, it was painful to watch. But then later, we see Bucky smiling and having dinner at the Wilson’s cookout. He’s happier because he finally did the work.
After all this character development, I’m excited to see Sam and Bucky return for future MCU projects.
The overall story was okay. A group of activists, Flag Smashers, fighting against the government for displacing millions of people and acting as though they don’t matter. It’s not the most revolutionary plot, and it probably would’ve been better if the Flag Smashers weren’t so one-dimensional.
After a while, it felt like their leader, Karli, was saying the same thing over and over again. We heard more about their struggles since The Blip was reversed, but we didn’t see any of it so there isn’t any substance to their cause.
In the end, Karli dies and it feels meaningless because we could never really latch onto her cause or her as a person.
I thought John Walker, a.k.a US Agent, would be the main antagonist. Although I don’t like him, he was better than the Flag Smashers. They did a good job of showing what happens when you rush to put the weight of the world on someone’s shoulders when they’re not ready. Eventually it crushes them, and they become the person you’re trying to stop.
Not only did Walker not understand what it meant to be Captain America, but the government also didn’t either. All they wanted was a new Captain America; someone they could better control and who aligns more with their beliefs and it completely backfired.
Walker started out as Captain America and now he’s working for Madame Hydra. I am intrigued to see where this plot will go.
The finale was more for superhero moments rather than keeping me on the edge of my seats. But I did appreciate those superhero moments. If the Flag Smashers were a better antagonist, it definitely would’ve been better. The speech at the end with Sam and everyone recording him was very staged, but at least we got Bucky and a federal agent calling Sam, “Cap.”
Sharon Carter turns out to be the infamous Power Brooker, leader of the criminal underground in Madripoor, but she’s back as a government agent. She’s on her way to tear down the government from the inside, most likely as revenge for criminalizing her after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” I do love a good girl boss, so I can’t say I’m mad about this.
I loved Zemo when he was present, but now that the show is over, it seems like he was mainly a plot device and a great source of memes.
I have to give it to Marvel, they once again produced a well-written show with great cinematography and even better action. The dynamic between Sam and Bucky was my favorite thing about the series, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan gave wonderful performances. With these limited series, Marvel really puts all their eggs in the main characters’ baskets and they pull it off. I’m excited for the next adventure, “Loki,” that’s for sure to be a wild ride.
Featured image courtesy of Marvel Studios