Marvel's Falcon + Winter Soldier Hits and Misses... But We'll Take It.

As of this writing*, we are three episodes into 
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (which, from now on, I will refer to as Falcon and Bucky, because damn).  Now that any excitement or annoyance (and I have felt both) has had time to wear off, and we are half way into this 6 episode series, I feel safe saying that I can give this show a passing grade so far, but not high marks.

Originally slated to be the first streaming Marvel Cinematic Universe show that is 100% under the Kevin Feige umbrella, Falcon and Bucky got pushed back to the second slot by COVID, after the mind-bending conversation-starter WandaVision

The first episode started by reminding us that Captain America was gone, and neither Falcon or Bucky were fit to take his place. 

As much as WandaVision portrayed the lengths one Avenger was willing to go to in her attempts to escape the consequences of the Infinity Gauntlet saga, Falcon and Bucky is the more grounded portrayal of the two men's inability to escape the fallout of the Captain America trilogy that preceded it.

It's a decent plan.  After all, we are living in the Golden Age of consequences.  We want justice, and we want it now.  We want equality.  We want representation.  We want evil done in the darkness to be drug out into the light... and maybe shot.

We want our heroes to stare down economic injustice, systemic racism, sexist double standards and all other such things. 

Falcon and Bucky sets out to do it immediately by portraying Falcon's alter-ego Sam Wilson having difficulty getting credit for his family business in the same episode that he risks his life to save American troops on the battlefield. I got so frustrated watching Sam and his sister pleading with the loan officer, I didn't think I was gonna be able to sit through the whole scene.

Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes' mental health treatment after spending decades being tortured and manipulated by a foreign terror group seems more like the parole board grilling of a willfully violent felon.  My mom, a retired VA nurse who worked with veterans in a high security psych ward for twenty years, was visibly disturbed by the passive-aggressive attitude of Bucky's therapist. 

Then they gave me someone to focus my hate on.

Unlike a lot of people watching the show who are beside themselves about the thinly veiled douchebag vibe of John Walker (the great white hype that the government gave the shield to when Falcon decided not to take on the mantle of replacement Captain America), I know enough about who this dude is gonna become that I feel perfectly fine hating his ass. 

In the comics, John Walker started out as a character called the Super Patriot, 
who embodied everything bad about patriotism, while Steve Rogers embodied everything good about it.  When Steve quit being Captain America after falling out with the government powers-that-be, John stepped in to replace him.

In the comics, John was actually very popular as Captain America, spending about a year and a half of issues in the role.  I, for one, did not like the guy as Cap.  But lots of people did.  The writers of the show are trying to play with his character so that he is likable enough, while also staying true to the a-hole qualities I hated about the guy.

They're doing a great job.
They've also pulled in Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America from TRUTH: Red, White, and Black

The comic reveals Isaiah as a contemporary of Cap and Bucky who was unknown to most heroes, but that all black superheroes and celebrities revere to the point of hero worship. 

I love that they included Isaiah in the show, but it irritates me that they took away his notoriety, so that Sam did not know his story, while Bucky (who had took an ass whooping from Isaiah, when Buck was still Winter Soldiering) did.

Again, the change was made to be a more seamless integration into MCU storytelling, but something important to me was lost.

Before I start complaining too much, I will mention something I am excited about:

In the third episode, we finally get to meet the real Baron Zemo.
When the trail runs cold chasing the real villain in the series, Bucky has the bright idea of breaking Zemo, the crafty mastermind from Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War, out of prison. 

Even though he was pivotal to both Captain America sequels, I was always a little disappointed with the flimsy fresh-faced nerd steez of Zemo.  But he evolved quickly in the third episode of Falcon and Bucky, where he is quickly confirms that he is indeed a Baron in the MCU, complete with private jet, multiple safehouses, and a multilingual manservant.

And he dons his purple ski mask and gets his hands dirty, as befits the dude who would throw hands with Captain America when the moment called for it in the comics.  I suspect that Zemo still has hooks in Bucky, which would explain why Bucky would be so insistent that they rescue the dude who brainwashed and tortured him into killing the King of Wakanda.

We'll see.

Then there's Sharon Carter.

After helping Cap and Falcon steal their iconic gear to chase Bucky around the globe in Civil War, everybody forgot about good ole Agent 13. 

Since then, she has gone full rogue. 

It seems there really are consequences to what people do in the MCU, and Sharon is still considered an enemy of the state.  She seems to be doing alright as a highly-positioned fence making it rain Picassos in the lawless city-state of Madripoor.  Some of my friends are put off by how comfy this patriot seems to be as an expat, but I ain't mad at her.  Cap forgot her number.  Nick Fury was dusted, then left the planet. And a girl's gotta do what she gotta. 

Falcon and Bucky is working off the presumption that justice is not applied equally, and Sharon's arc suggests that white privilege only extends so far for a woman without friends in high places.

So, yeah.  Falcon and Bucky is hit or miss.  But I'll take it. 

The use of the Power Broker and the Flag Smasher are fun tie ins that I remember from the Captain America comics I grew up reading.  Even though they have changed and compressed a lot about the Power Broker's role in the Marvel Universe, I'm eagerly waiting to see what the the Broker's impact will be on this cast of characters...

And the greater MCU.

*This article originally appeared in the King Shark Week issue of GhettoManga Weekly Digest which was published on April 7th, 2021.
Samax Amen is a professional Content Developer, Illustrator and Cartoonist. 
He is the artist of many great comics you never heard of like FREELANCER LIFE, Herman HeedChampion of Children, and The World As You Know It. He even writes and draws his own comics, like Dare: The Adventures of Darius DavidsonSpontaneous, and Manchild when he gets around to it. Because making comics is hard and stuff, he started GhettoManga as a blog in 2006 and as a print magazine in 2008.

No comments:

Check this out!

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner