The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Finale Finally Gives Us Captain America
Since the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I hoped that Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson would end up with super-soldier serum. Yet, in the back half of the series, Sam makes the case for why he’d never want to take it. Only, it’s the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that proves he’s a perfect Captain America without it. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers passed on the mantle to Sam, but only now is he ready to put it on. With the help of a new Wakandan suit, Captain America and the Winter soldier put down the terrorist uprising. However, what happens next is not the typical resolution for a story like this.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the milestone this marks for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The official MCU Captain America is now a black man, and the show explicitly addresses this in the denouement. There will likely be folks who criticize the scene because there is precisely no subtext. Yet, one thing that’s great about it is it pays off a longtime running gag since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam was always amazed at Steve’s ability to give a rousing speech off-the-top of his head. While it’s not an exact match, Sam proves that he’s got the rhetorical part of being Captain America down.
The biggest surprise for me, however, has been Wyatt Russell’s John Walker. To be fair, his story took arguably a very predictable turn. I incorrectly guessed that he’d be a red herring, but it seems that he might be sticking around as USAgent.
Spoilers for the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to follow.
The New Captain America Is a Mix of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark?
Image via Disney+
Sam Wilson was not Tony Stark’s favorite person. In Captain America: Civil War, a deft move by Falcon ended up causing James Rhodes to break his back. Yet, in the action-packed final moments of the climactic battle with the Flag Smashers, we see that Sam’s style is a blend of Steve and Tony’s. Again, it’s a fun detail that Captain America’s best toys (like always) are Wakandan. However, it seems that the new suit gives Sam added protection and strength, with some versatile new versions of the Redwing drones. They are able to help with recon and rescuing a heavy armored vehicle from falling a number of stories.
Another superhero, from a different corner of the multiverse entirely, that feels similar to Sam’s version of Cap is Batman. Through a combination of drive and gadgets, Bruce Wayne is able to go toe-to-toe with people who are way out of his league. With the loose parameters of Sam’s capabilities in the new suit, he should be able to hold his own just like Steve Rogers did before him. Even if like Tony and Steve his gear ultimately fails him, what makes him a hero is how he uses what’s available to him. In fact, his climatic fight with Erin Kellyman’s Karli Morgenthau he even draws on a little Luke Skywalker and makes no aggressive moves.
After he fails to talk her down, which we’ll discuss in a moment, he then dresses down the world’s leaders. Honestly, the political plot here is a bit convoluted, but the details aren’t really what’s important here. What we’re supposed to take away from this is that, with the right man behind the shield, there is nothing Captain America can’t do (all day).
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Finale Reveals the MCU’s Power Broker
Image via Disney+
The appearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a comics character with a rich history, signals two things. First, she’s likely to be a force working behind-the-scenes of a number of these Earth-bound MCU adventures. Second, it was unlikely that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would introduce another new character in the finale. So, that meant that the Power Broker was almost certainly going to be Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter. This is something fans looking for twists clocked the moment we met up with her in Madripoor. (It also makes me wonder if this Sharon Carter isn’t a Skrull that broke bad.)
Still, her heelturn makes a lot of sense given what’s happened to her since Captain America, the Falcon, and the Winter Soldier last stormed through her life. Sure, she gets shot in the guy by Karli during a villain standoff. Yet, Sam seems far less concerned about her well-being than he does about saving the person who shot her. Sure, Sam was going for a victory bigger than just saving one girl. Still, this all just reinforced how these people with power—both the heroes and those with influence—overlook her. If this is the Sharon Carter, it’s not a far reach to see how she’d be through with all of them and just out for herself.
The fate of the other super-soldiers in the Flag Smashers is left up in the air. We’re supposed to think that Zemo somehow ended up killing them. Yet, I’d not be surprised if Sharon or even Val pulled the old spy-switcheroo on us. Powerful (but still mortal) villains are always in need in comic book stories.
The Winter Soldier’s Story Ended Up Short-Changed a Little
Image via Disney+
Sam’s journey in this story was one that touched on themes of race in America. Bucky’s story (and John Walker’s too) was equally important. While not a direct parallel, his story reflected the experience of the American veteran. They are sent off to war believing in a bigger cause. They end up jaded or injured or somewhere in-between but left to fend for themselves. Bucky and Walker both have to learn to live outside of the life they knew, while still finding meaning in their “purpose” in life.
A big moment for Bucky was when he came clean to his friend Yori, played by Ken Takemoto about killing his son. Sebastian Stan delivered another very emotional performance, however we spent almost no time in that moment. There was a subplot related to a virus or outbreak that was quickly excised during the production delay after the real-world pandemic broke out. So, it’s possible that there was more to this scene that ended up cut. Either way, Bucky’s loss of this friend is balanced out by his acceptance by Sam and his family. Bucky’s found his community,
Also, worth mentioning here is John Walker. He’s definitely not well, likely suffering from post-traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt. For most of his portion of the fight, he’s hell-bent for vengeance. Yet, by the end he does make the right call and tries to save lives over kicking ass. He follows Sam’s and Bucky’s leads, showing that Walker is a good soldier with the right leader. Of course, now that he’s working for Val as USAgent, it will be interesting to see which direction his character goes. It feels like there is plenty of story left for a second season of the show.
All episodes from the premiere to the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are streaming on Disney+.
What was your favorite part of the show? Share your thoughts, reviews, and theories about what’s next in the comments below.
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.