I am a far cry from MCU’s (the Marvel Cinematic Universe) intended audience, being the wrong age and gender. Having grown up with DC’s Superman and Batman (from television) I knew very little about Marvel’s heroes. So when Marvel got into the movie business, I was a total newbie. And you know what? That’s okay. We neophytes serve a purpose, too, bringing a fresh perspective to the stories. When you know nothing about the history of Iron Man or Captain America, you get stories that are entertaining in their own right.
So, I’m not here to see a life-long interest brought to life. I’m just here for some good drama, good acting, and a good story.
This is why, after the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I was lukewarm about the series. I didn’t understand what the “Flag Smashers” were fighting for. Or against? A little research tells me they are anti-nationalists. Yet their agenda for this series centers more on the fall-out from the “reverse-blip,” Iron Man’s finger-snap towards the end of Endgame that brought back half the world’s population after a 5-year absence. Gosh, wanting to get rid of half the world’s population seems pretty radical. And their motto “One world, one people” doesn’t really fit that scenario.
Then there’s the Power Broker. But really, he (or she) is so nebulous, do I really care? About as much as I care that Sharon Carter single-handedly took out a squad of mercenaries. *Cue big eye-roll.*
Honestly? The only thing I cared about was the chance to see Carl Lumbly as Korean War super-soldier veteran Isiah Bradley again. Now, there’s a story I could really get into!
Then episode 4, “The Whole World Is Watching,” happened. All of a sudden, I realized this was good story-telling. Issues and characters weren’t black and white. (Except maybe for Sam. More on him in a bit.) How could I not be intrigued? Maybe I still don’t understand the Flag Smashers’ agenda, but their leader, Karli Morgenthau, has admirable ideals, even if her methods are not. Even Sam sympathizes with her, and he’s the one solid all-good guy.
And John Walker, the new Captain America. Initially, he’s an antagonist not because he’s a bad guy per se, but because Sam and Bucky dislike the idea of him replacing Steve Rogers. In fact, he’s a war hero—a war hero with a conscience. He puts his heroism into perspective by saying he received three medals to remind him of the worst day of his life.
But John breaks, spectacularly, in public, filmed by a multitude of camera phones. No hiding from that.
Episode 5, “Truth,” deals with the fallout from that debacle. (And my first reaction isn’t whether John’s punishment is just or not, but “John’s married?”!?) Enter Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a mega-mysterious possible benefactor. Her character is part of the Marvel comic universe, but she’s just as enjoyable as a new, unexpected entity.
What really made this episode stand out were the quiet moments. Isiah Bradley tells Sam that the world isn’t ready for a Captain American who isn’t a blue-eyed blond. Sam spends time with his sister and nephews, saving the family business. Bucky joins them, helping out and flirting a bit with Sam’s sister. Bucky’s still troubled, and Sam uses his experience counseling veterans (Captain America: Civil War) to help Bucky start to heal. And Sam practices—very impressively! —with Captain America’s shield.
It seems to me Sam is the one major character in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier without shades of gray. Maybe that’s what Steve Rogers saw in him. Regardless of what Isiah Bradley said, maybe it is time for an African-American Captain America. I can’t think of a better person for the job than Sam Wilson, regardless of color. (Incidentally, Marvel recently introduced the first gay Captain America. Cool!)
One would think a production company geared towards action and explosions wouldn’t care about the consequences of those actions. But they don’t ignore it. We’re still feeling the fallout from the debacle that was Sokovia. Zemo mourns his loss before being taken away quietly. And the underlying premise of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (can I just use TF&tWS?) is the ensuing chaos from the world’s population suddenly doubling.
What will the next episode, the series finale, bring? Most likely huge explosions and overly extensive action sequences (much like episode 1’s opening sequence and episode 2’s truck-top fight with the super-soldier-fueled Flag Smashers). Hell, even WandaVision‘s finale had a crazy-assed action sequence of two witches battling it out in mid-air. There likely won’t be a second season of TF&tWS, but Marvel assures me the story will continue. I’m down with that.
[Now if I could just quit dating myself by accidentally typing the series’ title as The Falcon and the Snowman.]