Marvel Keeps the Spirit of Captain America Alive

Falcon and the Winter Soldier Take Starring Roles in New Series

Tassi, Paul. (2021). [Falcon And The Winter Soldier] ‘Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ Review: Thanks, I Hate Him [Image].

Tassi, Paul. (2021). [Falcon And The Winter Soldier] ‘Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ Review: Thanks, I Hate Him [Image].

Alert: Review contains spoilers of Avengers: Endgame

When actor Chris Evans announced in 2018 that he was retiring from the role of Captain America after appearing in 10 Marvel movies, fans might have feared that this was the end of this popular character. 

But, in 2021 Marvel has revived the franchise with the Disney series The Falcon and Winter Soldier. Transitioning a film to the TV screen is a difficult task any time, but removing the original starring actor would seem like an impossible project. The Falcon and Winter Soldier definitely has its shortcomings, but fans and critics all seem to agree that this series has successfully moved the Captain America franchise from theaters to television, keeping it alive for future movies and TV series.

 After the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, when Steve Rodgers gave his shield to friend Sam Wilson, producer and lead writer Marcus Spellman was inspired to create a series that was a classic “passing of the torch.” The writers used this series to create a character arc for Sam that inspires him to go from being Falcon to the new Captain America. The writers also decided to include racial themes in the series since Sam Wilson is played by African-American actor Anthony Mackie. The series focuses on the conflict Sam feels as he takes over the role of Captain America from his friend Steve Rogers and the racial issues he grapples with along the way.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up where Endgame left off. A global government organization called GRC is attempting to resettle earth after Thanos is defeated and half of earth’s population has returned. A terrorist organization of super soldiers called the Flag Smashers, led by a radical named Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellerman), has formed and is working to destroy the GRC and protect the rights of the people who were not eliminated by Thanos. A new Captain America, John Walker, is appointed by the American government, played by Wyatt Russell, to stop the Flag Smashers, but Walker is eventually stripped of his Captain America title and discharged from the military.

The responsibility of stopping the Flag Smashers then goes to Sam Wilson and the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, embarking them on the hero’s journey to become the next American superheros. In the last scenes of the series, Sam appears in a newly designed Captain America costume, which incorporates Falcon’s wings, and he works with Bucky and John Walker to defeat Morgenthau and the Flag Smashers.

The action and special effects in this series are the visual spectacle audiences are accustomed to seeing in a Marvel production. The fight scenes are very complex, and because they always include super soldiers, they are fast paced and include special movements not typical in most movie fights. According to Brandon McFarlang, a freshman at Long Reach High School and a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fan, “The series was similarly formatted to the Marvel movies in terms of action.” 

But, even though the series was over 6 hours long, development of the characters and their plotlines were sometimes lacking. Karli Moregnthau as the main villain and leader of the Flag Smashers was just confusing. Her cause made no sense, and did not make her a sympathetic character. As McFarlang puts it, “Karli Morgenthau was not a very interesting enemy. Because of this, her extra screen time during the show led to slow and sometimes boring moments.” Audiences may find themselves anxious for Morgenthau to finish one of her speeches and get on to the next round of fighting.

Maybe the most interesting and complex character in the entire series is John Walker. In each episode, Walker seems to go from hero to villain to hero again. According to McFarlang, “He was the most interesting character from the series, and I think his role as a more ruthless version of Captain America is interesting enough for his own movie.” Count on Walker’s character to show up again somewhere in the MCU.

The series contains many racial themes, which are very timely and audiences will find these scenes poignant and appropriate. The challenge was to weave these racial ideas into the series in a way that felt natural and flowed with the story, and this was not always done well. 

Audiences are introduced to an old super soldier named Isaiah Bradley who was African-American. He describes his mistreatment while he was in the military, including how his heroic deeds were ignored and forgotten. For MCU fans, this will sound very similar to the suffering of Bucky Barnes, so it is hard to see Bradley’s mistreatment as different. Bradley is so bitter about his experiences, he tells Sam that he would never be accepted as Captain America. This is difficult to understand, since Sam is already a celebrity superhero, as is Black Panther, War Machine, and Nick Fury, among other prominent African-Americans in the MCU. 

Despite some shortcomings in character development and some sloppy writing, Falcon and Winter Soldier delivered. The characters Sam and Bucky showed that they are strong enough to carry a series. Combined with other familiar characters, and interesting new characters like John Walker, Marvel has left the audience wanting to know more about the direction of the franchise. It has already been announced that a Captain America 4 movie is in the works, and there are rumors of a series season two, which was all made possible by the storylines developed in Falcon and Winter Soldier. This series has kept the spirit of Captain America alive and created opportunities for more movies and series for years to come.