Image from Marvel.
The highly anticipated season finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier aired on Disney+ on April 23, concluding the second Marvel Studios Television project on the streaming platform. The show is part of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its events occur after the film Avengers: Endgame.
The series focused on Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they navigate their new roles together. Originally intended to depict one hero passing on the torch to the next hero in line, Marvel Studios decided to expand the story to delve deeper into Sam Wilson’s experience as a Black man becoming Captain America. Kevin Feige said that this series is more of a reflection of real-world issues compared to previous MCU projects.
With The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale coming a few days after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, the reveal of Sam Wilson as the new Captain America felt more poignant. Wilson’s experience as a Black man asked to be a hero for a country that more often than not mistreats people who look like him was not a straightforward story to tell, and Anthony Mackie’s performance as Sam Wilson gave people of color a role model to emulate and look up to.
Sam Wilson was reluctant to take up the shield, and he faced resistance from several characters throughout the series. Sam’s transformation from the Falcon to Captain America drew parallels from some of the more unsavory chapters of US History. With the show coming at a time when racial injustice in the country has been front and center in the news cycles, the line “I’m Captain America” from Wilson proved to be an inspirational moment.
A notable scene from the finale is when Sam introduces Isiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) and Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson) to a new part of the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The display features a statue of Isiah, along with the stories of African-American soldiers who were experimented on without their consent in the US government’s quest to recreate the super-soldier serum. This scene signals a new understanding of what Sam can achieve in his new role as Captain America: holding his country accountable while protecting its people.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also featured a strong performance by Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes. The audience sees more of his humanity in the series as he slowly comes to grips with the guilt he has been feeling for all the things he did while brainwashed.
The dynamic between Sam and Bucky was well-loved in the previous MCU movies, and it was also a highlight of the show. These two men grappled with history and their experiences and became better people because of it.
Audiences and critics have described the finale as ambitious, and some think it does not live up to the expectations set up by the previous episodes. Even if that is the case, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier continue to display Marvel Studios’ ability to create a successful show and expand their cinematic universe.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is streaming exclusively on Disney+.