While March 19th marked the beginning of yet another TV show hit, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the almost buddy cop show came to a close the morning of April 23rd. With WandaVision slipping to the back of Marvel fan’s minds, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan deliver a truly watch-worthy performance. With the show grappling with themes of racism, propaganda, and trauma, it gave a new light to Marvel and its fans. One of the main themes revolves around the question of “whether or not Steve Rogers would be replaced as Captain America”.
Our show begins with the world starting fresh from the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, as the Falcon (Sam Wilson), and the Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes), continue their lives after returning from the blip and being in hiding. Bucky deals with his trauma and PTSD from his time as the Winter Soldier, and Sam deals with family issues and returning Captain America’s shield. A friend of Sam, Joaquin Torres, calls him in for help against a rogue antagonistic group called the Flag Smashers, whose goal was to restore things to the way they were during the five years: a united world without borders or patriotism, helping those who needed it. The first episode set up a lot, including a “moon conspiracy” and the replacement of our previous beloved Captain America.
Nepotistic star, Wyatt Russell, joined the Marvel Universe earlier this year. Wyatt made his debut as the new Captain America, playing John Walker, an accomplished army man. This didn’t sit well with fans, for obvious reasons. With the loss of America’s symbolism of hope, the country is left vulnerable. Even more so after half of the world’s population came back so suddenly. They needed a figure of bravery, but instead received a power-hungry man, title obsessed man.
After the reveal of a new Cap, Bucky and Sam meet up to help stop the Flag Smashers, doing so without the knowledge of the government. After finding the location of the influential leader, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), and learning about the Super Serum deployment, Sam and Bucky head into a nasty fight against the rebels. Here is where they meet John Walker and his partner Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett), who’s John’s version of Sam Wilson. The four dive into what it means to be Captain America and how Bucky and Sam won’t accept him as the new carrier of the shield. With this in play, it also brings us to our second character introduction, Isaiah Bradley.
Bucky takes Sam to Baltimore to meet Isaiah and this allows the writers to dig deeper into the show’s systemic racism postulation. As stated in Vulture, “Isaiah was a hero, one of the men that Hydra feared the most, and he even fought against Bucky back in 1951. And then they put him in jail for 30 years. America has a habit of burying the legacy of its Black heroes, and the fact that the government experimented on Isaiah also speaks to dark chapters in the history of this country (the arc in the books was inspired by the Tuskegee Study).” The end of episode two ends with him telling Sam that only one man, Helmut Zemo, (Daniel Bruhl) can help them, as they plot to break him out of prison.
The breakout of Zemo leads us into our third episode The Power Broker, a criminal organization that provides people with superhuman abilities for payment. Zemo helps Bucky and Sam, as well as the addition of Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). Events lead to interrogation and confrontation between Sam and Karli. Alas, boy wonder John Walker is impatient and tries to arrest Karli. This leads to an unsavory fight, the death of Falcon parallel, Lamar Hoskin, and the eventual beating of a non-violent Flag-Smasher at the hands of the New Captain America.
A gory marvel scene of Karli’s colleague being battered by the same shield that had once inspired prosperity and trust. This creates a turning point in what we know for the series. Who we thought was a good guy is psychotic and who we thought was the bad guy maybe isn’t so bad, besides the murdering of innocents which happens in almost every Marvel movie. This leads us into our final episode. Zemo has been taken back to prison, Walker and Karli are out for retribution, and the Falcon FINALLY BECOMES CAPTAIN AMERICA!! With a new suit and everything.
Our last episode bids us farewell as Sam and Buck defeat the Flag Smashers. With the unfortunate death of Karli Morgenthau and her partners, and the reassignment of John Walker as US Agent, (a marvel comics character). A bittersweet yet tasteful ending to a wonderful but needed show. Bucky redeems himself in more than one way and finally smiles the same way as he did with Steve Rogers, Sam becomes the new face of the will, bringing honor to himself and his family, and Isaiah Bradley, an unknown hero is finally honored in ways that should’ve been done years ago.
A great way to end a series devoted to the legacy of marvel. Just as WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier did touch base on a lot of different things including giving both Sam and Bucky more depth to their characters, besides keeping them as the remaining side-kicks of Steve Rogers that we’ve all come to know since their first introduction in, Captain America: Winter Soldier. The series concluded with a lot of sad but necessary moments for the continuations of Marvel and the results of what the future will come for both Sam and Buck.
Overall I’d give the series rating an 8.5/10, mainly for its well-given character adaptations of John and Karli. Although, I deem the way they portrayed Isaiah as unfair towards his character. The fact that they gave him an introduction in a short series instead of a major Marvel movie plays into this. I know it wouldn’t have been possible to give him an earlier intro, but in the least somebody should’ve told Steve or Sam. It made his character seem like it lacked importance when it had substantial ties to Bucky’s “Winter Soldier” Persona.
Another notable flaw is the way the last episode of TFATWS sped through a lot of things in a short amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the ending as much as the next person, but John Walker getting a mini redemption tale and Sharon being the power broker put a lot of things out there at once. It overcrowded the story a bit and just stuffed the final moments.
Besides the ending, I’d say the show is notably not as good as WandaVision in my opinion. I know others think differently and I do feel The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had a great storyline and plot, but it just felt a little overrated to me. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan did put out a great performance and conceivably they’ll put out a lot more. What they have planned next for their time in the MCU we’ve yet to find out. Hopefully, upcoming Marvel Productions like Black Widow and Loki will deliver the same amount will leave us with satisfaction and the deserved hype of their characters.