One thing the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ (MCU) does well is the element of pacing and attention to character development. Many always confess that the studio knows how to cast the perfect actors, but writers and screenplay are just as vital to ensure the product is executed on every level.
To report, it was extremely satisfying to walk from the first episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” knowing that ‘Marvel Studios’ isn’t afraid to bring forth events, and awareness to human issues that reside in our reality.
Of course, the question of how do you continue to raise the bar and keep your audience interested is one that gets brought up in the writer’s room. However, a well-established arc lays out the conviction and story for each character from the first second they step into the frame.
This brings me to the first five minutes of the second episode from the series where we see how vulnerable and conflicted the character of John Walker (Wyatt Russel) truly is. The audience finds the character in his old high school locker room, and it’s clear to see nervousness because he’s about to publicly take the mantle of Captain America. However, when he finds his old locker and sees his wife. Walker immediately gets a dose of humility in the short scene. One thing I did notice was how the scene felt reflective of Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) talking to Dr.Erskine (Stanley Tucci) from “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) before his fateful transformation.
I felt the scene showcases John Walker’s ascension to the level of Captain America in the same fashion as Steve Rodgers. I could feel a sense of disconnect from the soldier when he was in military garb, but when he donned the stripes Walker came off with a cocky attitude. He runs out to his alma mater, not as John Walker, but now the icon Captain America.
The scene felt satirical and almost a parody of what Steve embodied as a symbol of US propaganda during the 1940s when he was in full effect. I noticed the glory of fame was cementing hubris in Walker’s arc. Leading to moments during the episode where he would confess “I’m not trying to be Steve.” It was clear to see Walker was symbolic of what the serum and the shield do to people. He was being seduced by the flaws of what Dr. Erskine was cautious about. Walker is a perfect soldier but not a good man. It was great to see the callbacks of previous films still hold a place in the present reality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
End Of Spoilers…
Sam and Bucky – A Perfect Soldier & A Good Man
Even though Steve isn’t present in the story he still lingers in the motivations of the two men worthy of bearing his legacy. Though the series does throw a few curveballs with the inclusion of John Walker when he tries to help Bucky and Sam fend off the Flag Smashers.
Another excellent scene from the new series because it allowed the buddy cop aspect flair to give balance to the raw emotion. Bucky and Sam felt like a weight was lifted off their shoulders, and the chemistry between the pair was executed well. There are a few funny scenes to break up the tension, but when the story confronts harsh pain it maintains balance.
For example the therapy scene at the end of the episode; underscored by Cap’s Speech from Captain America: The Winter Soldier(2014) when the duo is discussing what the shield embodies. I enjoy vulnerable moments where the series takes on the role of character study.
Invisible Scars – Reflecting Reality
However, at times I did find myself asking what if the series is still trying to find its footing. I understood Walker is destined to become a villain, but the main looming threat of the Flag Smashers was the arc I felt wanting more of. Due to the established motivation of the extremist group, and how they did make valuable points of how Thanos changed the landscape of the world. The group conveyed through snippets of exposition that the world was different, and one of the peace when the blip occurred. To note hearing how the world turned its back on citizens who survived the blip brought up some X-men vibes from “Logan” (2017). In a chapter of the X-men, a universe where mutants were all but extinct.
Thoughts Going Forward
I always wondered how the MCU was afflicted by the blip or Thano’s snap from Avengers: Infinity War. We hear little details and snippets of what the world endured during the five-year gap. Though if executed wrong it can lead to a flaw in storytelling, but I feel the series got through the muddy terrain of laying the foundation for the characters, and how they link together.
However, if being honest I do find myself confessing that I want the series to retain the childhood flair of the MCU, but I want ‘Marvel Studios’ to follow suit with the level of narrative, and world-building that ‘WandaVison’ established in its 9 episode season. Perfect exposure of commentary for how human these characters truly can be.
Now comic accurate material is great, but it needs to be done with purpose, and direction. As a fan, seeing Baron Zemo with a comic-accurate mask is very cool, but imagine if in the Marvel Cinematic Universe he designed it after Thanos. A symbol and icon of the “Avenger’s” greatest failure.