The Falcon and The Winter Soldier - It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No! It's Racism.
Let me start off this review by stating that there will be spoilers about the second episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. If you have not seen it yet and care about spoilers LEAVE NOW. Stop reading, close your browser, and avoid the internet until you can. Without further ado let’s dive into some more Marvel goodness.
This week’s episode was another slow one and I’m beginning to think this entire series will follow suit. We were introduced to John Walker, aka bargain bin Captain America, since he was shown at the end of episode one. They parade him around as the new symbol of hope for White people everywhere. That might rub some the wrong way but know that I’m okay with that. John is your stereotypical all-star jock turned service man. He’s a decorated veteran who’s fought for his country and blah, blah, blah. I’m not familiar with his whole backstory or character from the comics, however what I have seen is that he’s full of himself, quickly tries to establish that he’s in charge, and is radiating with White privilege. Even though his sidekick is a Black man I know he uses a hard “R”; if you know you know.
Meanwhile, Sam and Bucky reluctantly are working together to get more information on the Flag Smashers as they are still on the move. They track some members to a warehouse to see what they are up to. During this quick stakeout they come to realize that these people have super strength, which is depicted as two people moving a container average folks couldn’t have done. Thinking they are in a hostage rescue situation they go after the trucks that are leaving the warehouse. Shortly after they are engaged in a fight with several members of the Flag Smashers before being joined by faux Captain America and Battlestar. It is during this altercation that they realize there are other Super Soldiers in the world, but honestly there are two other things that are noteworthy about this episode that I want to touch base on. 1) Isaiah Bradley. I had never heard of him until this episode and I’m shocked that he isn’t talked about more, although I gather that after this episode he will be. He didn’t have much screen time, but still managed to turn this world upside down because he’s the first Black Super Soldier. He also went toe to toe with Bucky, back when he was an assassin, and lived to talk about it. Very few people can claim that, yet even fewer can say they won this fight. He goes on to tell the viewers that for his heroics he was jailed for thirty years, which lead to them treating him as a lab rat. Even in a fictitious universe a Black man can do everything right and still be stripped of his rights plus have his legacy erased. 2) Sam, The Falcon, almost had officers pull their guns on him for an argument. As always Sam and Bucky were going at it verbally. Right after leaving Isaiah’s house they were arguing in the street when police officers pulled up. They immediately directed their attention to Sam, even going so far as to ask Bucky if Sam was bothering him. They literally were ready to shoot had they not recognized he was an Avenger. One officer apologized saying that he didn’t recognize him without his glasses, let that sink in. They sure didn’t treat Bucky that way although they didn’t know he was an Avenger either. He was taken peacefully for his warrant with the officer apologizing for the inconvenience and calling him “Mr. Barnes.” You can save the world and be one of Captain America’s best friends, but they will only see you as a dangerous, Black man.
I have to say that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is almost a bit too realistic in showcasing the Black experience, yet it’s comforting to see it because I know that millions will also see it. They will see how we are treated when we do nothing to deserve it. They will see how obeying, or disobeying, authority doesn’t matter when your skin isn’t White because you’re treated harshly regardless. Maybe this was Disney’s intention? Move along their universe while simultaneously showing the injustices done to Black people daily? Using their world, platform, and pull to uplift the voices of people who have been hurting for decades. Only time will tell, but I’m interested in what will happen for, and to, the Falcon next Friday. What do you think about the episodes thus far? Let us know in the comments below.