‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ addresses racism, other serious topics


Fair warning, this review does contain spoilers.

Marvel’s second Disney+ series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” recently ended a six-episode look into the lives of Sam Wilson, played by Anthony Mackie, and Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” The show explores topics like racism, immigration and political influence.

The main storyline — taking down Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers — is overshadowed by Sam becoming Captain America and the struggles he faces to get there.

After Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) passed off the shield to Sam in “Endgame,” Sam decides to donate it to a museum rather than take on the mantle himself. As government officials tell him he was “doing the right thing,” another far-less worthy person was prepping for the position.

Let’s make one thing clear: while this is an anti-John Walker review, the actor Wyatt Russell doesn’t deserve the hate he’s gotten because of the role. It’s sad this needs said, but stop harassing actors because of the characters they play. It’s really that simple.

That said, I despise Walker. He is the antithesis of Steve Rogers — the perfect soldier but a not-so-good man, especially after taking the super-serum. John craves power, a power that he ultimately can’t control. His actions in the fourth episode make that clear. Beating someone to death with Cap’s shield isn’t exactly a good image.

The U.S. government appointing Walker behind Sam’s back strengthens Isaiah Bradley’s (Carl Lumbly) belief that America will never accept a Black Captain America. As a Black super-soldier once imprisoned and experimented on by the U.S. government, his beliefs are valid.

Racial injustice is a major theme of “TFATWS,” even if people don’t want to acknowledge it. After pop culture TikToker Julian Green (@straw_hat_goofy) pointed out themes of racism and racial inequality in the series, he received thousands of hateful comments and messages calling him racial slurs. The hate only proves his point further.

Sam didn’t keep the shield because he knew, as a Black man in America, millions of people would automatically want him dead. Bucky even acknowledges he didn’t understand Sam’s situation, apologizing for basically calling him a coward. The microaggressions Sam experiences and Isaiah’s heartbreaking story should have convinced people racism is an important theme in the show.

Immigration and political influence also play a role in the show. After half the population was suddenly snapped back into existence, millions of people were displaced, and political tensions rose. The Flag Smashers were tired of watching politicians debate their worth as humans. While their methods were wrong, even Sam agreed their fight mattered.

Were there problems with the series? Yes, but that’s expected when a global pandemic halts filming and various changes are made so it can continue. There were some rushed plotlines and unanswered questions, but with the announcement of “Captain America 4” with Anthony Mackie at the helm, we still might see some of those questions answered.

Marvel fans won’t have to wait too long for more content, as the next Disney+ original series “Loki” is set to debut this June. The show focuses on the alternate Loki from “Endgame,” — the one who picked up the Tesseract and dipped — and the impact he created on the flow of time. The series stars Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief and Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius, a member of the Time Variance Authority.

Jared Shuff is the Collegian culture editor and a junior in secondary education. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

My name is Jared Shuff, and I am a former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.