Photo from Disney/Marvel
Note: Spoilers ahead
As we enter the final week of six-episode series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” let’s review the previous five episodes that you can watch on Disney+.
This series marks a big year for Marvel TV, following the first series “WandaVision” and before “Loki,” which premiers in June. Other Disney+ shows in production include “Hawkeye,” “Mrs Marvel,” “Moonknight” and She Hulk.
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Sebastian Stan as James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes (Winter Soldier) and takes place after the 2019 movie, “Avengers: Endgame.” Sam and Bucky deal with the aftermath of losing their friend Steve Rogers (Captain America). The pair don’t have a lot in common besides their ties to Captain America, and the arc of the series goes follows their progression of being at odds with each other to becoming partners.
In “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” the audience is reintroduced to familiar charters from the Marvel movies such as Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). The audience is also introduced to two new main characters, John Walker as a new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) and Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) who heads a terrorist group called the Flag Smashers. Then we meet Joaquin Torres (Danny Rameriz) who in the comics becomes the next Falcon after Sam Wilson inherits Captain America’s shield.
Zemo steals the show in his scenes as a suave villain who helps our two protagonists hunt down the Flag Smashers. There’s also a surprise cameo in Episode 5 which surprised me, even though I follow all of the MCU.
Throughout the series, Sam and Bucky struggle with bigger issues that go beyond typical comic book themes. For Sam, he uncovers the secret racist history of the “super soldier” experiments on Black soldiers in World War II. For Bucky, he continues to suffer from severe PTSD after he was brainwashed to be the Hydra “winter soldier” assassin in the movies.
While Bucky deals with his demons, Sam rejects the idea of becoming the next Captain America as he learns of the racist backlash against the idea of a Black man taking up the red, blue — and white — mantle of Captain America.
In Episode 5, a bitter Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) tells Sam how he and other Black soldiers were betrayed and imprisoned by the Army in one of the most powerful scenes of the series:
“You think things are different?” Isaiah Bradley said. “You think times are different? … They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever want to be.”
That scene leads to deeper conversation about race and society and what it means to be a hero, setting up the final episode.
And of course, there is plenty of action, plot twists, fights, chases, and all the things that you would expect in a Marvel production. But what sets it apart for me is the struggles that Sam goes through in his journey to be the next Captain America. I recommend you start with the first episode and go from there.