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After Steve Rogers’ departure in Avengers: Endgame, fans began the inevitable countdown for someone else to wield the shield. Episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier put Cap’s shield back into the action, but not in the hands of true hero.
This episode follows Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes teaming up to take down the mysterious Flag Smashers while being haunted both literally and figuratively by an imposter taking advantage of Steve Rogers’ legacy. Anthony Mackie and Sebastien Stan’s long awaited team up did not disappoint with a masterful balance of comedy and drama that rivals anything Marvel has done before. Mackie and Stan’s chemistry in just their first episode together has the potential to be iconic in the MCU moving forward if this trend continues.
The cliff hanger at the end of last week’s episode gave us our first look at Wyatt Russell as John Walker, a government sponsored Captain America cosplayer. Russell’s Captain America is a surprisingly epic accomplishment by head writer Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland. Wyatt’s performance is not treated like a caricature, but subtle details implanted throughout this episode and last week’s (be sure to watch closely to catch them all) gives the audience a pure sense of disgust and hatred seeing this man hold a symbol that means so much to those who’ve experienced its legacy (both in the context of the show and in the real world).
This episode introduces an impressive number of character and story elements that point to a far more intricate journey than previously expected. The Flag Smashers went from a generic gang of redshirts to a complex exploration of morality from different points of view. The surprise inclusion of Isaiah Bradley, the first Black super-soldier from the comics, is an interesting and exciting way for Marvel to expand the mythology of the MCU, while also shining a light on the darker corners of American history that some like to distort as nothing but a distant memory.
This show’s ability to explore the grey zone of morality in a way that is typically antithetical to the superhero genre is something that is very refreshing to see Marvel accomplish, but clearly the endgame of the show is to figure out the final definitions of these characters and the world they (and we) live in. Marvel is diving into systemic racial disparities and forgotten comic book/American history further than we ever expected them to have the courage to, but it’s no longer enough to throw tokens to the wind and give major studios credit for minimal efforts. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has set a high bar for itself to clear, and hopefully Disney/Marvel Studios does not shy away from diving deeper into this complex but important conversation for the rest of the show.
Episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and possibly the entire show overall, could be one of the greatest accomplishments in Marvel’s vast portfolio, but it’s overall quality is dependent on how far the studio is willing to go to tie-up the threads that are so perfectly pulled on in this episode.
Filmnetic Grade: A+
Check out the Filmnetic Podcast where do a full breakdown for this episode and what it points to for the future of the MCU.