Now that the The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale is finally out in the world, we now have the full picture of what to expect from the slew MCU shows coming to Disney+. Both the WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finales show that Marvel Studios intends to use these shows as a platform for hyper-focused theme and character development instead of massive, universe shattering plot twists. Now that this context is well known, establishing our expectations helps the shows soar higher on a different landscape than the movies.
Episode 6 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally puts Sam Wilson in the role of Captain America, and it finally does not feel like someone else’s shield. The action packed episode rivals anything Marvel has put on the big screen, while at the same time hyper-focusing on a central theme without flashy, gimmicky cameos and plot twists. The finale gives us the final showdown against the Flag Smashers and John Walker, while also focusing on Sam Wilson’s full body and soul transformation into the Captain America we need today.
Sam Wilson’s transformation is given the same attention, authenticity, and relevance that was given to Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision. Like Wanda’s transformation into the Scarlett Witch, Sam’s transformation into Captain America is a massive step forward for the development of the MCU. Unlike Wanda, however, Sam’s specific future in the MCU is currently unknown. Elizebeth Olsen is set to reprise her role for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but Anthony Mackie is not officially set to return in any announced project. Stay tuned for a full breakdown on when and where you should expect Mackie to return.
The finale and the show overall stayed consistent on its exploration of the grey zone of morality and the good and evil within everyone. Erin Kellyman’s Karli Morganthau continues in her decent into the darkness, but Sam is able to communicate her message in a way that shows her righteous passion will not be forgotten. Wyatt Russel’s John Walker is given a small redemption moment, but his character will continue as an anti-hero that relies on following orders to stay on a decent path. The character’s transformation into the comics accurate U.S. Agent teases a future where the Thunderbolts become an established team in the MCU.
Sebastien Stan’s Bucky Barnes finally leaves the villainous Winter Soldier behind him, which sets him up for true freedom as a hero alongside Sam’s Captain America. Barnes’ transformation is the only character arc that was slightly rushed and stuffed into the end of the episode, but his future of freedom now seems like an essential movie for the character to finally leave his past behind him. The fitting title change at the end of the final episode to Captain America and The Winter Soldier teases a possible second installment in this show’s story, which we will breakdown in a future article.
The finale teases an interesting future for this story line, with Sharon Carter seemingly showing full allegiance to her criminal life in Madripoor. The finale insinuates that Sharon herself is the ominous Power Broker, but there are some details that contradict this lackluster reveal and point to a more mysterious figure pulling the strings in the shadows. Additionally, COVID-19 seemed to have caused Marvel to save some other leaked teases for the future in order to not spoil certain feature films that were impacted by the pandemic.
In conclusion, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale does exactly what WandaVision established in its finale. Marvel Studios’ Disney+ shows have officially establish themselves as thematic character studies that set up a brighter and more complex future for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show officially launches the legacy of Captain America to new heights, with an important and compelling message about the current state of American values. To paraphrase another iconic and important piece of comicbook history: Sam Wilson is not the Captain America we deserve, but he’s the one we need right now.
Filmnetic Grade: A