What Does “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” Mean for the MCU?
Recently, the second of the Marvel TV Shows, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” released its final episode. While this fact was really disappointing for fans, because, let’s be real, six episodes is not enough time to enjoy the Sam-Bucky relationship, the show also made some giant changes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and things aren’t going to be the same. So, what were the biggest changes that “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” made to the universe? And what happens now?
Spoilers Ahead (duh)
The first major issue is the storylines that were introduced during the show that have been left very open ended. It was revealed that Sharon Carter was the Power Broker (I mean, that wasn’t really much of a reveal because we all called it, and, after the whole Mifisto thing from “WandaVision,” I really needed one of my theories to be correct). While the actual reveal wasn’t such a big deal, she had been doing all of her evil stuff on the otherwise unknown island of Madripoor, a fictional island in the Indonesian Archipelago. Obviously, since we didn’t know about Madripoor before this show, it hasn’t impacted the MCU at all. But now, since Sam got Sharon her pardon, she is allowed back in the United States and was reinstated back into her government job, but she has no plans to actually be the good, upstanding citizen she previously was. Due to the phone call we heard her make, we know she plans to continue her criminal activity and use her access to exploit the United States government. Evil Sharon is definitely going to have an interesting storyline in the future.
Something that is going to be a storyline for quite some time is the thing that the entire show was building towards: Sam Wilson as Captain America. Obviously, this development is going to set a lot of things in motion, but the biggest thing, and something that the show has already hinted at, is the racist haters who will come for Sam. Racism is prevalent in our country, and Marvel doesn’t seem to be shying away from showing that it is also an issue in that universe. Isaiah Bradley (more on him later) even said, “The world isn’t ready for a black Captain America,” evidence the MCU plans to make this a topic. If they tackle it properly, I think it could be both interesting and a good thing to show. However, there are so many areas where they could fail, so I’m a little worried about how this storyline is going to play out.
The third storyline that the show set up was U.S. Agent, aka everyone’s favorite Captain America, John Walker. Just kidding, I hate him as much as everyone. So, we know that John Walker has anger issues, and he took the super soldier serum, which, as stated in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” just makes you more you. Therefore, John Walker will be more angry and erratic and will cling to the name and the fame rather than the responsibilities that the title holds. John Walker showed that he was unfit for Captain America so many times, but one of my favorite examples was that he would always refer to himself as Captain America, where Steve Rogers would always introduce himself as Steve Rogers. This shows that Walker is more focused on the brand name and thus not fit for the role.
We left John after he got a suit and new name from Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and I need Holton to get me in contact with this alum right now because, oh my God, we all have a very indirect contact with Sebastian Stan. I think this plot point sets up two very important things:
One: Madame Hydra, aka Val, who is going to be a cool character to explore further. Also, I don’t know if this would happen, but I think a team up between her and Sharon Carter would be awesome.
Two: U.S. Agent. What is John Walker going to do with this persona? Why do I have a feeling like he’s going to just get worse and worse. We know he has some good in him, because he chose to save the people rather than kill Karli, but I don’t trust him at all, and I feel like we’re going to see him get into some trouble in the future. Sidenote, I absolutely love Wyatt Russell because he’s playing this character to perfection, proven by the fact that we all absolutely despise him.
We also never wrapped up the Flagsmasher storyline, as, even though Karli is dead, there are still Flagsmashers out there (like that prison guard who did the whole “One world, one people” thing). Karli was the leader, and they will need time to recover, but I don’t think this time is the last we’re going to see them.
The final storyline, and my absolute favorite, is how the Avengers are viewed. So, obviously there was a time where the heroes were beloved by all but now not so much. This plot is taking place a little after “WandaVision,” so Wanda is not a favorite, given how she took a whole town hostage. “WandaVision” comes after the fact that the Sokovia Accords were created due to Wanda’s actions, even though it’s utter BS and the government sucks. But, as far as the world is concerned, Wanda is the worst and is uncontrollable.
Wanda aside, we also have the whole thing at the end of “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” where Sam basically lectured a bunch of senators on live TV. Was he right? Maybe. Should he have done it in public? Absolutely not. Not only does it look like an Avenger is disagreeing with the government very vocally but also does it give the haters more of a reason to come after Sam. What he said needed to be out there, but there were better ways to go about it.
Finally, while “Spider-Man: Far From Home” doesn’t come out for a few more months, we know that at the end of that movie, Peter is revealed to be Spider-Man and framed for killing Mysterio. Now, we have three of the most name-brand heroes under scrutiny. I think this trend is going to be really interesting in the future, and I’m excited to see how our heroes handle not being in the public’s favor.
While this show set up a ton of storylines, it also tackled some racism in the MCU. We already covered how Captain America being black is going to raise some tension, definitely a point milked for future storylines, but Marvel also covered some more subtle racism and started to fix the injustice which their company is built on.
One thing that was specifically brought up was the idea of the black sidekick. We saw it with Iron-Man and Rhodey, we saw it with Captain America and the Falcon, we even saw it in this show with John Walker’s Captain America and Battlestar, but we also saw them start to fix it. For one thing, I think that they intentionally made John and Lemar’s relationship this white-hero, black-sidekick stereotype to highlight the differences between them and then Sam and Bucky. John actually calls Sam Steve Rogers’ sidekick, which he vehemently denies, where Sam and Bucky have a whole conversation about being partners (and other synonyms that also mean equals). There are a lot of steps that Marvel needs to take to fix the racism that it perpetuates, but this is a good first step.
The other storyline that revolves around race was the introduction and story of Isaiah Bradley, which came out of nowhere but was incredibly aware. Isaiah Bradley was a super soldier, one of many created in an attempt to replicate the success that the government had with Steve Rogers. Of course, all of those experimented on were black since the government saw them as expendable. Most of them died, but Isaiah Bradley was a success. He was strong enough to storm an enemy base single handedly and save a bunch of POWs, even though these actions were against orders. When Steve Rogers made this choice, despite breaking orders, he was seen as a hero when he got back to base. When Isaiah Bradley did it, he was sent to a lab where they spent years experimenting on him to find out why he was a success. When they were done with that, they sent him to prison for years.
Isaiah Bradley was a character in the comics, and he wasn’t made just for this show and this climate, but I think it was really important to highlight his life and show the contrast in his story versus Steve’s. Introducing Isaiah also led to the introduction of his grandson, Eli Bradley, who is the next confirmed Young Avenger, as he will get the mantle of Patriot.
Overall, this show was awesome, and, while I’m super sad that it’s over, I’m really excited to see what happens next.