The conclusion to Disney+’s second MCU show is a series of expected events more than a shocking ending, and that’s okay…for the most part.
Throughout the six episodes, the creators have never shied away from tying the story into very relevant events of the real world. Are we as citizens of the earth better off with more welcoming and open immigration policies? Can America handle a black man as Captain America when so many in the world are still inherently racist and so many of the systems meant to help us are based in systemic racism?
While THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER can’t answer all of these questions as neatly as some will like, it does reach further than any of the other previous MCU movies or WANDAVISION to make important statements on social justice and anti-nationalism, and deliver them to us from characters who would be marginalized in today’s society. Karli Morgenthau was an especially intriguing antagonist. Her end goal is idyllic, but her violent means to reach it give even her closest allies pause. This is where our heroes, Sam and Bucky, come in to show that maybe there are better ways than creating fear and chaos. As viewers, we’re left with not really knowing who is correct here, Sam and Bucky OR Karli, and my hope is that Marvel continues to ask these questions as we shift into Phase 4 of the MCU.
What I disliked about this finale were extraneous characters/side plots that felt shoe-horned in as a setup for the next film(s). The heart of the series is Sam, Bucky, and Karli’s goals and struggles. Sure, we needed to know who was pulling the strings behind the Flag Smashers, but maybe just as a final post-credits addendum to the episode, not as a drawn-out scene that interrupts the climactic action of the finale.
Even with some minor faults, this episode is still a must-watch for me. Sam and Bucky’s arc from the end of Endgame to now is what mattered most and the show absolutely stuck the landing here. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have fantastic chemistry, not only with each other but with Erin Kellyman (Karli) and Daniel Brühl (Zemo) as well. I was moved by how Sam, Bucky, Karli, and Zemo treated one another as equals, each a complicated hero or villain who has the ability to take the right path or not.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLIDER are not sidekicks anymore. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers may be gone, but Sam Wilson and James “Bucky” Buchanan are ready to lead us through the next crisis.
The whole series is streaming on Disney+.