As The Falcon and The Winter Soldier concludes, students react to the series

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Warning: spoilers for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ahead

Hot on the heels of WandaVision’s massive success comes The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s highly anticipated Phase 4. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which began streaming exclusively on Disney+ on March 19, is a television miniseries consisting of six episodes. It revolves around the titular characters of Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier), played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, respectively. 

Daniel Brühl also returns as Baron Helmut Zemo, who first appeared in the MCU as the primary antagonist in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War. Zemo plays a pivotal role in the main characters’ pursuit of the Flag Smashers, an anti-nationalist rebel group that preferred how things were before the Blip, a period when half the universe’s population were snapped out of existence.

The show picks up a few months after the events of Avengers: Endgame. In Endgame, viewers saw Steve Rogers pass over the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson. The show explores Sam’s hesitance in accepting this responsibility. After struggling to believe that he is worthy, Sam donates the shield to the Smithsonian Institution, much to Bucky’s dismay.

We quickly learn that this decision has led to some unintended consequences – the government has taken the shield and entrusted it to John Walker, a U.S. Army special operations officer with a decorated military career. The introduction of this new Captain America causes tensions to run high between Bucky and Sam, all while their strained feelings on Steve’s absence go unresolved.

The character development of Sam and Bucky is expanded upon in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier than in the movies that the two have appeared in previously. The TV series format gives them more screen time, allowing viewers greater insight into their lives and what they struggle with.

Junior Lynda Irizarry said, “I love that Bucky and Sam are getting more attention now. We get to see them both in the movies as Steve’s best friends and I think it’s really interesting to see the writers show us how Steve’s death has affected them and how they both have their own internal struggles when it comes to stepping up to the plate. We see that Bucky is mad at Sam for rejecting the role of the “new” Captain America, and how he sees it as an insult towards himself as well.”

“I feel Bucky’s character has been developed immensely through how the episodes detail his turn from The Winter Soldier into regular Buck,” added senior Krishna Baliga. “His PTSD and struggles to make amends with his wrongdoings has made Bucky an extremely interesting character.”

Additionally, the internet’s discussions on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have largely centered around the contrast between Chris Evans’ Captain America and Wyatt Russell’s Captain America.

In the earlier episodes, John Walker expressed his desire to be the best Captain America he could be. However, in episode 4, we see Walker snap over the accidental death of his partner, Lemar Hoskins. He brutally kills a Flag Smasher using Cap’s shield while onlookers film the entire incident. This scene is a crucial turning point in the audience’s perspective of Walker because it emphasizes a significant difference between Walker and Rogers. The shield is a patriotic symbol that represents ideals like freedom, justice, truth, and resilience, but Walker uses it to deliberately cause harm to an unarmed man. By using the shield in such a way, Walker is disregarding the symbol that he swore to protect and uphold.

“[John Walker] is everything that Steve Rogers wasn’t. This is proven when he takes the super soldier serum. Back in Captain America: The First Avenger, it is said that the serum makes good become great and bad become worse. John Walker feels entitled to have the respect of everyone just because of his title while Steve selflessly fulfilled his duties without any expectations of thanks or respect,” said Lynda. “I especially found the ending of Episode 4 very telling of his character, as we see that the blood of the man he killed stains the shield; he is a stain on the American flag and what he should stand for.”

The show also explores how race plays into Sam’s struggle over becoming Captain America. He is shocked upon meeting Isaiah Bradley, a Black super soldier who was jailed, erased, and experimented on by the government. Bradley later asserts that the government will never let a Black man be Captain America. Despite these words, Sam chooses to train with the shield. 

A final showdown between the Flag Smashers, John Walker, and Bucky and Sam will bring the dispute over Captain America’s legacy to a close. The show hints heavily at Sam eventually becoming Captain America. In a cryptic post credits scene, John Walker, who has been stripped of his title by the government, is shown making his own shield.

Krishna said, “I’m super excited for the coming episodes. I’m hoping to see the development of Sam even more and his family issues as the show juggles a lot of his problems. I want Sam to be the focal point because it feels as if he’s a side character at times. I especially want to see how Sam will eventually take on the mantle of Captain America and the shield.”

Freshman Alishya Loyd added, “In the remaining episodes, I am hoping to see Sam receiving the shield and becoming the future Captain America. I believe this will help benefit America because it will be the first time for a black person to be Captain America.”

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is definitely worth a watch, especially for Marvel fans that enjoy the traditional action-packed thrillers that Marvel Studios typically releases. Episode 6, the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, airs today.

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