Review: Falcon, Winter Soldier, And The Star-Spangled Man With A Plan (Kinda)
There is one thing we can probably guess with some degree of certainty. By the end of the run of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson will be Captain America. How he gets there, however, will likely be the arc of this series. The second episode of the (now) second MCU series puts Falcon, Winter Soldier, and the new Star-Spangled Man, John Walker, together. Unlike the first episodes of WandaVision, we are already in the thick of a traditional MCU adventure. However, despite copious action sequences, there is still plenty underneath the surface of this story. Both Anthony Mackie’s Sam and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky are working through a different kind of trauma than Wanda Maximoff. But they are working through it nonetheless.
Of course, the bright shiny object in the episode is the “new Captain America.” Wyatt Russell plays John Walker, a US Army hero with three Medals of Honor. (A number one greater than any actual service member has earned.) He’s not enhanced, but he appears to be in peak physical condition. He also, for now, seems to genuinely want to do good things in his role. Part of the plan this star-spangled man has is to recruit the allies of the original Captain America.
Of course, the episode title references the song from Captain America: The First Avenger. Before he’s sent into the field to kick Axis ass, he’s sent on a public relations tour in which he performs in a full musical number. The marching band in the opening of the episode even plays a version of that song. It’s a fun callback to the beginnings of the first Captain America, and it allows audiences to wonder about Walker’s true motives.
The New Captain America Isn’t the Only Story Being Told Here
Image via Disney+
While we’re not going to dive into spoilers (check back for a spoiler-review), though I do want to talk about the themes in this episode. Titled “The Star-Spangled Man” it’s not Walker that looms over this episode. Rather, it’s Steve Rogers. In the last episode, the two characters were seeking their individual places in a world without Cap. In this episode, where the two finally come together, we see what kind of life “retired” heroes can expect. There are political themes at play in this series, especially since the “villains” are a kind of militant activist group. It will be interesting to see where this story goes as the mystery unfolds in the next four episodes.
However, the other story this episode touches on is the way in which “heroes” are treated in the civilian world. When real-world veterans return to civilian life, they struggle. Some can’t get loans to save their family businesses. Some suffer from injuries that require treatment, sometimes mandated by the court. They have a difficult time leaving the fight behind.
Of course, in the MCU, there are threats that require these particular “veterans” to get right back to busting heads. Still, these moments will strike a chord that resonates with Sam and Steve’s first conversation in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Alternately, Walker represents, at least for now, a new soldier about to go through it all over again. If he does eventually take a heelturn, I will bet a PX gift certificate it’s because he won’t come out the other side as well-adjusted as Sam and Bucky. (And that’s saying something.)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts Fridays on Disney+.
What did you think of “The Star-Spangled Man” and do you hope Falcon and Winter Soldier keep working with him? Tell us in the comments below.
Featured image via Disney+
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.