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*Spoilers The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ahead*
As viewers, we thought WandaVision was mind-bending craziness that dove into grief and coping mechanisms, but the storyline of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (FATWS) did not disappoint. In this series, there wasn’t the magic or mind control of WandaVision, but rather a more grounded story about two protagonists that were trying to figure out their place in a world where they felt othered and a world that had experienced unimaginable tragedy, aka the blip from Infinity War as well as the reappearance of the people who disappeared.
In FATWS, viewers follow Sam and Bucky after the events of Avengers Endgame. We start by learning that Steve Rogers, our beloved Captain America has passed away and he left the shield and title of Captain America to Sam Wilson, the Falcon. However, Sam did not feel comfortable taking the shield and passed it on to be displayed in the Smithsonian. We also get to see Sam’s family for the first time and learn that his sister, Sarah, is struggling to keep their family shrimping boat without falling into bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Bucky is still trying to cope with his past life as the Winter Soldier and we actually are reintroduced to Bucky through a nightmare recalling one of the missions he had to complete. As part of Bucky’s pardon, he has to go to therapy and while he is trying to piece himself back together, he’s also trying to make amends for all the acts that he did as the Winter Soldier. If all this personal turmoil and grapple with self-esteem wasn’t enough, there’s also a new group of anarchists called the Flag Smashers wreaking havoc on the world and of course Sam and Bucky find themselves in the middle of the fray trying to save the world.
As far as how the series is shot, it feels like a long movie, not like a series. Marvel will really have us bingeing this series in a day because it will feel incomplete to just stop at one episode. Of course, each episode successfully carries out its individual plots well, but we’ll be tempted to binge nonetheless. The overall tone and coloring are a combination of earthy and dark, bouncing viewers between feeling at home and feeling uneasy.
I personally love how grounded this story is and it made the heroes seem even more relatable. It’s one thing to watch the Falcon fly through a battlefield, but it’s another thing to watch how people treat Sam Wilson, especially when he doesn’t have the wings on. Even Bucky’s treatment post Endgame brings up thoughts about the lack of support present for veterans regarding their mental health.
FATWS made us consider the hard questions that connect us to the real world. What do you do when the opposing side has a point about how the “good guys” are handling a tragic situation? How do you defend a country that historically demonizes you/your people? Is that a personal choice or are you a redemption arc for your ancestors? How have we been doing our veterans wrong? What would it look like if we were to do right by them? I would argue that this show is heavy in all the right ways because much like Sam said in the last episode, these questions force us to look at how we can and should be better.
In Essence, you should definitely watch FATWS because the story is a reckoning in itself that will make you ask questions about problems that can’t be solved all at once, but will take us down a better road.