The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: A New Captain America Takes Flight
Sam Wilson finally puts his doubts aside and takes on the mantle of Captain America in the exciting but not groundbreaking final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Picking up exactly where we left off the episode sees Sam (Anthony Mackie) flying to New York in his fancy-looking Captain America duds to help Bucky (Sebastian Stan) do battle with the Karli Morgenthau and save the GRC from the Flagsmashers.
If I’m honest I thought the finale was a bit uneven. Those best served by it were obviously the titular characters and it was great seeing Sam as Captain America, while Bucky’s arc was brought to a touching conclusion. Unfortunately, I was less keen on the overall resolution of the plot which felt rushed and underdeveloped.
Let’s start with the good. Seeing Sam Wilson as Captain America was a significant moment. Representation matters and I don’t care who you are, you have to recognise that there’s power in seeing an African American man taking on the mantle of one of the world’s most popular heroes, both in and out of universe.
We’ve seen the journey Sam’s been on through the show and his transformation into the star-spangled man felt like a natural endpoint for his character. Mackie wears the mantle well, and while his speech was a little on the nose for my tastes I thought he delivered it well, with the earnestness and optimistic spirit we’ve come to expect from Captain America.
It’s clear he won’t be a Captain America like Steve Rogers, John Walker, or even Isiah Bradley, he’ll be his own man. One who recognises that the world is complicated and there are no easy answers but remains optimistic that we can always be better tomorrow than we were today.
Also as a quick aside, that final title card was cool as hell and should definitely be the title of the second series…
Similarly, as I said Bucky’s arc came to a satisfying conclusion. We’ve seen him grappling with the guilt of being The Winter Soldier over the show’s run and I thought it was great to see him finally stop avenging and start amending. Stan did a spectacular job over the course of the series with his guilt-torn portrayal of Bucky so seeing that character finally put the past behind him and move on was surprisingly cathartic.
Outside of our main characters though things get a little rougher. Wyatt Russell’s John Walker was given short shrift basically turning up to help in the final battle and not much more. It felt like him being there was simply an excuse to tease the future of the MCU not deliver on the story the show had spent the last five episodes setting up.
I wanted there to be some consequences for his actions, but Sam and Bucky were able to forgive him incredibly quickly, and he drifted to the periphery of the episode very quickly which is disappointing as I expected more from him.
Similarly, there was a fair amount of outrage online about the treatment of Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter. A vocal section of the fanbase objected to the reveal that Captain America ally Carter was actually evil all along, believing it did a disservice to the character and her comic book legacy.
I wish I could share in this outrage, but to be honest, while I believe the show did her dirty I don’t think this turn is necessarily a bad one. Sharon’s always been quite a thinly drawn character in my opinion, and while the reveal wasn’t a world quaking revelation, it at least teased that VanCamp will have more to do in the future of the MCU besides babysitting Cap and his supporting cast.
My biggest problem with the finale though was the Flagsmashers and the final resolution to that plot thread. While I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the Flagsmashers as a villain (they felt a bit generic) I did think the fact they had such a legitimate grievance was interesting and I was looking forward to seeing how Marvel would resolve their problems.
After all, we saw that Sam was surprisingly empathetic to their cause, knowing what it was like to be disenfranchised. So to have them dispatched so easily with Sam solving the problem with a speech felt disingenuous to the complicated issue Marvel had made their situation out to be.
I’m led to believe that the Flagsmasher plotline was affected by real-world issues (or at least that’s what the internet would have me believe) but I just don’t think the finale did justice to the group by ending their story with what was essentially a stern telling off from Sam.
All in all, like Steve Rogers not being a perfect soldier, but a good man, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hasn’t been a perfect TV series, but it has been a good one, and I look forward to seeing what comes next for these characters.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney+
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