The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
As the Falcon And The Winter Soldier mini-series finishes its 6 episode run, rather than review episode 6 "One World, One People" I'd like to step back and look at the series as a whole.
Spoiler Level: High
SAM & BUCKY
Much like to old Captain America And The Falcon comic books, here, Sam/Falcon was the star of the show while Winter Soldier Bucky played the sidekick role. While Bucky had his moments, the focus clearly favored the Falcon. The two heroes inhabit disparate worlds of thought and with only six 42 minute episodes it may have been the best call. It clearly underscores the need for Bucky to get his own mini-series to get deeper into the character than we were allowed to see here, beyond the brooding assassin-turned-hero who likes to stare. Sam’s “B” story felt a little awkward with so much time being spent fixing the family boat in between racing around the world to stop The Flag Smashers. The highlight of this story I feel was when Sam and Sarah tried to get a loan from the bank but were denied because Sam’s history on the last five years was blank due to his being blipped.
But I also couldn’t help but ask why didn’t Sam go to Pepper Potts Stark and ask her for the loan. She would have given him the money for free but knowing Sam he wouldn’t take a handout but it still could have been a loan. While Sam dealt with boat issues, Bucky had to deal with court mandated psychiatric sessions so he could come to terms with all the red in his his ledger. He had a book of the names of the people he either murdered or had to make amends to in one way or another.
When Bucky misses a session a warrant for his arrest is issued. While he and Sam are walking down the street arguing, a police car pulls up because, well, Sam is black. The scene comes off a little forced and awkward and the police, who come across rather weak compared to the type of cops the scene is obviously calling out, and they wind up arresting Bucky for missing his therapy session. But get this….a podcaster who is rather popular within his circle claims he has inside information on what he calls “Time Off Stamps”…supposedly Disney+ is keeping tabs on when someone turns off one of their shows. He says that 83% of viewers turned off Falcon And The Winter Soldier within a minute or two of viewing this scene! Isn’t that a hoot? This dude, who wears a dumb costume and alters his voice for his podcast, has been called out before by legitimate news sources. He just comes across to me as racist and sexist as hell. With some better writing and directing they could’ve pulled a scene like this off, though. But they needed some police who were actually scary instead of a couple of guys who seemed like they were from Mayberry. Commit to showing what black people actually deal with. But come on! 83% of the audience tuning out? I think not. I don’t think it was a bad show but I also don’t think it was as great a show as it could’ve been. Having so many things going on, the series became quite convoluted at times. At least that’s how I saw it. There have to be a lot of fans out there who enjoyed it a lot and it’s not my intention to belittle that.
When I found out Baron Zemo was going to be in the show I was somewhat less than excited. He has never been a very interesting villain to me. The best handling of the character I think was making him Citizen V, leader of the Thunderbolts in the comics. And I think Daniel Bruhl would probably be good in that role. But here he wasn’t even the Big Bad I thought he was going to be. Basically he was a tour guide for Sam and Bucky. And breaking the guy who murdered T’Chaka the King of Wakanda out of prison…wtf?
Did someone cancel Sam and Bucky’s Avengers membership cards? Being Avengers and Sam’s military connections, their only choice was to help Zemo get out of prison? With so much stuff being crammed into this short mini-series they could have easily left Zemo out and not change much. The MCU is doing great by their heroes but not so great with their villains. This would have been a good opportunity to introduce more Marvel villains. At this point, there wouldn’t be enough to do a Thunderbolts movie/series if they wanted. And what about The Raft? Who the hell do they have to put in there?
THE FLAG SMASHERS featuring KARLI & THE SUPER-SOLDIERS
Sounds like a heavy metal group, don’t it? Karli Morgenthau is the Big Bad we get for this show. A gender-swapped version of a Captain America comic villain called The Flag Smasher (Karl Morgenthau). In the comics, Flag Smasher was a terrorist with an anti-nationalist agenda. He has fought John Walker’s Captain America, the real Captain America, Battlestar, Demolition Man, and, later, others such as Moon Knight and The Punisher.
In the MCU Karli Morgenthau is the leader of a group of terrorists called The Flag Smashers who are against borders and the GRC–Global Repatriation Council–who are trying to get everyone who has come back after The Blip returned to their old lives. Except during the five years they were gone–and no one thinking they would ever return–people moved into their old homes, filled their jobs, and borders came down to allow people from other countries to come in and help rebuild. Now that the Blipees have returned they naturally want their lives back. But Karli doesn’t think she or the other squatters should have to give up the homes they have taken. She literally doesn’t even want the Blipees back at all and wants the world to go back to the way it was when they were gone. It’s not addressed on the show where the logical end result of this thinking goes…ridding the world of half its population again. So she is supplied with the super soldier serum by The Power Broker who has had the serum reconstructed by a scientist who managed to bottle the whole thing up and take out the need for the Vita-Ray treatment.
The series tried to insinuate a lot of moral ambiguity in Karli and the Flag Smashers tactics. They even had Falcon believing in her righteousness. But there is none. Karli and her movement were terrorists, plain and simple. Their actions of blowing stuff up and killing people with no remorse whatsoever clearly defines them as bad people. Terrorists in every sense of the word. And seeing Sam trying to relate with her cause was really hard to watch.
JOHN WALKER aka CAPTAIN AMERICA 2.0/USAgent
The moral ambiguity works much better on John Walker, the man the government turned into a new Captain America 2.0. Walker is a decorated war hero but he is nowhere being a Steve Rogers. Actor Wayne Russell does a great job with the character. I went into this thinking John Walker would be an asshole, you know, like the comic. Russell and the writers make Walker a little more human though.
When he goes after the Flag Smashers it’s soldier vs terrorists. And when Karli kills John’s partner Lemar Hoskins, Battlestar, John loses it. Using his shield, John Walker bludgeons one of the terrorists to death. In front of a crowd of people who see it all…the fury, the blood dripping from the shield. John Walker is then brought before the government people who gave him the costume and the shield…and who now strip it all away from him. He barely evades a court martial. He is stripped of all his medals, his benefits, his honor. All because, as John says, he followed their mandates. I did not expect to find myself feeling a little sorry for this guy. Perhaps if there had been a couple of more episodes we could’ve gotten to know Walker better. Maybe even see the jerk he is in the comics.
Even at the end of the series when, predictably, he becomes USAgent, there is still a glimmer in him that he may yet get to serve his country by way of the Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (played by Julia Louise Dreyfus). Say who? You mean that woman who used to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D in the comics? Well, both this show and WandaVision seem to be going out of their way not to bring up S,H.I.E.L.D. so her connection to them is probably unlikely. After all, we have S.W.O.R.D. now. And her involvement in this show seems pretty shady. People have already taken to calling her Madame Hydra. It seems strange to me from a story-telling process to her her in the way they did and not give it any closure. There’s more to her and Sharon than meets the eye. Perhaps their story will continue in the Nick Fury vehicle Secret Invasion when it is release (next year I believe).
THE POWER BROKER/SHARON CARTER
With the marketing Falcon And The Winter Soldier gave us, I was expecting Sharon Carter to be a sort of Dorothy Lamour to Sam and Bucky’s Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the old Road To… movies. Instead, she just kinda pops out of the shadows in one episode then pops back into them. It’s mostly like that for her scant appearances. For some reason Sharon has not been pardoned by the government with the rest of the heroes. So she asks Sam to get her the pardon in exchange for information. Then, to the surprise of no one, it turns out Sharon Carter is actually the Power Broker. This shift in character is never fully explained. Like the Contessa, her story remains to be finished.
This is probably my favorite sub plot of the series. Except it doesn’t quite reach the level of sub plot because there is so much else going on. Isaiah’s story could’ve been a much larger part of this series. Especially if they reduced or eliminated altogether Karli and her Flag Smashers. Maybe they could have given us a little more on Isaiah’s grandson who, in the comics, becomes The Patriot of the Young Avengers. He’s the third member to be introduced after Wiccan and Speed and another member, Kate Bishop, is set to debut in the Hawkeye mini-series.
No, I wouldn’t not mention the one moment in the show the whole audience had been waiting for: the transformation of Sam Wilson from the Falcon to Captain America. It was really great to see him show up in a fairly accurate comic book costume. I will be putting this in my file of “Transferring Comic Book Costumes to The Big Screen” (or small screen as is the case). Movies are quite capable of giving us costumes based on the comics but it seems like they are embarrassed to do so. The cinematography was a little choppy when he first shows up and we have to deal with weird lighting or not enough lighting. Still, Sam is clearly the one to continue on with the shield. But his speech at the end to the government people was a little lackluster. At first I was enjoying it but it ended up being just “You have to do better”.
There has been some talk of Chris Evans returning to the MCU but it looks like that is going to only be voice work for the upcoming animated What If? series. And another rumor is a reported Captain America 4. People have naturally connected the two but I think it’s clear to see if there is another Captain America movie it will star Anthony Mackie. Maybe it will resolve some of the unresolved issues of the mini-series but man, I hope we don’t have to wait that long. More likely answers will come in another TV mini-series. Which one? Hey, I’m not The Watcher so don’t ask me!
My feelings about this show, much like the show itself, are all over the place. I wish they had left the super soldiers out rather than give the serum to 4th rate characters like Karli and her mostly nameless terrorists. I think if they had built the show more about Isaiah Bradley and John Walker we'd have had something a little more engaging rather than catering to the producers political whims. Also, all the Sharon Carter and Contessa stuff which feels so out of place because none of it gets resolved. It all seems to point to something coming down the road if anything.
Captain America And The Winter Soldier
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 10/1010/10