You know that feeling when you watch something, it lights something up in your brain and you just have to talk about it? That’s what this new featurette for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier did for us.
Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) have been fan favorites in the MCU from their very first appearance. But this show is seriously making them even more loveable. Especially because it’s giving Marvel the chance to explore their personalities and backstories. And, of course, themes that we should all talk about, but that haven’t been nearly as discussed in media as they should. Each of the main characters is dealing with all kinds of issues. Both superhero issues and some very real-life issues.
Bucky, the former assassin who just wants peace after all the fights
When we first see Bucky in this show, he’s in therapy. Yes, it’s part of the conditions for his pardon (which shouldn’t even be a discussion at all, since he was being mind-controlled for 70 years, but that’s not the point), but he’s there. Why is this relevant? Because it’s helping him come to terms with his past, work through his PTSD, and, as he puts it, “make amends.” At the same time, he has to accept the fact that the only person who knew him before seven decades of being used as a weapon (a.k.a. Steve Rogers) is gone. That’s got to take a toll on someone, right?
This time he’s not on the run, he’s not fighting a mad Titan. He’s just James “Bucky” Barnes, a soldier who came home and is trying so hard to get back into society. That’s one of the hardest things someone could ever do, but no one ever talks that much about it. The MCU has briefly touched on it before, at the beginning of Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Sam is with the support group and when he and Steve talk about their beds being “too soft.” But this is the first time PTSD and coming home from a fight are primary issues for a Marvel main character. Let’s hope he can work through all this and finally have some peace.
Sam, the hesitant hero who really needs time to figure things out
Sam Wilson is the best. He jumped into the fight with Captain America mere days after meeting him. He’s the man who stood by Cap even when the rest of the world said they were wrong. Sam is awesome, alright? And that’s why Steve chose him to pass the shield to at the end of Avengers: Endgame. What Steve failed to remember was that the shield’s legacy is, as Sam himself put it, “complicated.” Meaning: there’s a huge difference between him and Steve carrying the shield. As head writer Malcolm Spellman said, it would be dishonest to have Sam, a Black man, accept this shield right away. We won’t go into detail on this because we’re sure the show will do a much better job of it. But just knowing The Falcon And The Winter Soldier isn’t holding back from the topic is already a big deal.
And another big deal to Sam is his family. He cares so deeply about their legacy and their business, and it seems he’ll do anything to protect it. His conversations with his sister make it seem like he really didn’t go home that many times since joining the Air Force when he was younger. And there’s also the fact that he was gone for five years and Sarah had to hold it together alone. And if catching up with everything he missed wasn’t enough, Sam is also harshly reminded of how powerful people, like the banks, have a tendency to treat him differently outside the heroes’ world. This man cannot catch a break, it seems. Anthony Mackie wasn’t kidding when he said we get to see “what this character really is.”
As was said in WandaVision, “the Devil is in the details,” but so are the relevant things
Let’s not forget this is still Marvel. They never do anything without a reason. And my dear, did they make a lot of deliberate choices in this show. One of which was choosing a white man to be the government’s “new Captain America” after Steve chose Sam. Another choice was the very obvious parallel between Bucky’s notebook in the show and Steve’s notebook in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While Steve was trying to catch up to the present, Bucky is trying to make up for his past. And just like his best friend, Bucky is kind of alone at the start of his journey involving the notebook, until someone comes in.
Anyway, the bottom line is: Sam and Bucky were truly the best choices to have a show on Disney+. They’ve always been complex characters but all the fights got in the way of getting to know them as people. And it’s pretty great to see that even heroes have their struggles. We are past the days of seeing superheroes as perfect and untouchable beings. And that is great!
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Featured Image Source: Courtesy of Marvel Studios/Disney+