REVIEW: ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ how the series concluded

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Sebastian Stan (left) and Anthony Mackie (right) during a scene in “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” Photo from Marvel and “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” website.

Ben Kaiser, Reporter

Marvel’s second series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” is finished on Disney Plus and is setting up promising potential for their Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4. 

A quick recap of the actors from the first part of this review. The show stars MCU alumni Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky/Winter Soldier. The show also brings back Daniel Bruhl as Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine.

Wyatt Russell stars as John Walker, the government’s answer to Captain America, and Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau, leader of an anti-patriotism group called the Flag-Smashers who believe life was better when Thanos killed half of everyone. Other actors who appear in the second half of the show are Florence Kasumba as Ayo of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. 

Episode four brings back the Dora Milaje (although technically the third episode did in a cliffhanger). While “Black Panther’s” Okoye isn’t present, Ayo is the first of the all-female bodyguards to appear in the MCU back in “Civil War.” The episode has a flashback, showing Ayo was the Dora Milaje responsible for helping Barnes to break his Winter Soldier brainwashing. 

After hearing Zemo was freed, Wakanda didn’t waste time to hunt down the man responsible for their former king’s death. They even humiliate John Walker with their superior warrior skills when he refuses to let the Dora Milaje take Zemo into custody. 

This gives the new Captain America an embarrassment he can’t handle. Despite his combat training and shield-throwing skills, he doesn’t measure up to the skills of the Dora Milaje. Before fighting the Flag-Smashers again, Walker comes across the last of the super-soldier serum that the Power Broker managed to produce. He decides to use it himself, becoming as strong as the original Captain America.

During this fight, Morgenthau uses too much of her strength and kills Walker’s partner Hoskins aka Battlestar, sending Walker into a blind rage. Walker chases down one of the other Flag-Smashers in front on a crowd. Still enraged, Walker executes the Flag-Smasher with his shield, with the shocked crowd taking pictures as he stares back at them with his shield now covered in blood. 

This episode gives a great example of what the scientist Doctor Erskine was talking about back in the first Captain America film. Before Steve Rogers became Captain America, Erskine explains that he chose Rogers not because he was a good soldier, but because he was a good man. Walker is shown to be an exceptional soldier, but few could measure up to Steve Rogers’ character. Zemo himself even explains this with Wilson and Barnes before the Dora Milaje came for him.  

The next episode brings the Falcon and the Winter Soldier teaming up against John Walker right after he publicly executed the Flag-Smasher. The fight ends quickly with a combo takedown move, resulting in Walker’s arm broken and Wilson’s wingsuit destroyed. With Walker officially losing his status as Captain America, he is soon approached by a mysterious woman named Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. She seems to be offering Walker a second chance, maybe for shadier government levels. 

This leaves the rest of the episode to focus on the main characters dealing with their own personal issues. In fact, both characters address their problems over a friendly game of shield tossing. Seriously now, Walker, Wilson, Barnes, just about anyone can throw this thing around like the original Captain America. I thought it was something that Steve Rogers was trained on or his strength helped in throwing it like a metallic Frisbee, but this series seems to suggest anyone, super-strength or not, can throw it like a pro. 

Wilson is able to give Barnes “tough love” advice on how to better deal with his Winter Soldier past, something he has experience with when he did veterans’ support groups. The two also discuss more on the impact Rogers made when he gave the shield to Sam Wilson; it was more than just passing the shield to someone else, it was also that the shield was being passed to a black man. This is further emphasized with Isaiah Bradley’s disgust over his time as a super-soldier, stating “they will never let a black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting black man would ever want to be.” 

The final episode begins right into more action, with the Flag-Smashers holding the politicians voting to relocate “blipped” people as hostages. Now taking up the Captain America name himself, Wilson flies into battle in his brand-new red, white, and blue suit that looks like it comes right out of the current comics. Barnes asked the Wakandans to fix it up as a last favor. The new Captain America teams up with Bucky, Sharon Carter, and later John Walker for their big showdown with the Flag-Smashers. 

After showing off his new tech and shield use, Wilson and his group take down the Flag-Smashers, rounding them all up for prison. Well, all except Morgenthau, who was killed by Carter after revealing herself to be the Power Broker. However, Zemo has a bomb kill all of the captured Flag-Smashers while in the Raft, a prison designed for superpowered individuals that was seen in “Captain America: Civil War.”  

Wilson gives a Captain America speech in front of politicians and news media, because of course there’s a Captain America giving speeches. It comes with the stars and stripes. Meanwhile, Fontaine returns, giving Walker a new outfit (same look, just in black) and a new name: U.S. Agent. It’s implied that she is putting together her own team of superheroes and/or anti-heroes, most likely for unsanctioned missions that the Avengers wouldn’t do. Possible Thunderbolts? Carter gets her pardon and security clearance back in the CIA, but as the Power Broker, she makes it clear she is going to use that clearance to sell top-secret info and tech to more bad guys. 

One last scene before the credits roll is Wilson making a wing just for Isaiah Bradley. As a black super-soldier, he was erased from military history. Wilson made sure everyone remembered who he was and what he did, even his imprisonment. It’s a solid emotional feeling to see Bradley’s tearful reaction after seeing his own legacy restored.  

The series ends with a nice touch to the credits, changing the series’ title from “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” to “Captain America and the Winter Soldier.” With the transition from Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson, this change feels earned. The series shows how Wilson is right for the job, where Walker wasn’t and that’s shown as well. It was a big deal for him, too, tossing race along with duty and legacy as conflict for Wilson to accept if the accepted the shield.

In the end, he took all of that in stride, even if it meant being hated by some. I really appreciate how this show uses Walker as the example of what the government would want as the next Captain America over who should be or needs to be. 

Also, why just “Captain America and the Winter Soldier?” Bucky went through his own journey and was able to move from his nightmares and murders. Maybe “Captain America and Ol’ Bucky” didn’t have a good enough ring to it? 

Anyway, that’s “The Falcon/Captain America and the Winter Soldier.” I think this series is more of what the movie fans were expecting compared to “WandaVision”, with more action and fight scenes. This series is shorter than WandaVision by three episodes, and I wish it could had taken a bit more time to cover the conflicts of the characters more in depth. I still think it handles what they were dealing with well, but with so much going on, the focus jumps around a bit and loses its impact. Despite that bit of criticism, it’s a fun vehicle for Marvel and can’t wait to see more of Anthony Mackie as Captain America. 

Also, once the finale episode released, Marvel announced that a fourth Captain America movie is in the works, obviously starring Anthony Mackie.