My politics just aren’t built for this
So Falcon and the Winter Soldier just dropped it’s series finale! All in all, I think it was quite the enjoyable politically violent experiment! It was also a bit weird and unbelievably divisive as different takes fill up the internet. That is actually the best part.
I feel like I have all these things to say about it, so rather than waiting for them to coalesce in my mind, here is bucket of extra crispy thoughts about the show and it’s characters.
1. On the Flag Smashers
- The Flag Smashers are right.
- Even thought she got way to comfortable killing people, Karli Morgenthau was she really wrong about the willingness to do so. Superhero justice almost always stops at killing, but never starts with lasting reform. This show played with that idea going so far as to show us a brutal murder from a government sanctioned Captain America. Of course, they are allowed to kill. How do you get them to take you seriously when they can kill you, but you aren’t even allowed to take supples you need? This is an honest question.
- They really let Zemo’s butler murder the rest of the gang like that? Like… what’s the point? Do they not check these vehicles? Nick Fury had a car that turned into a mounted gun that drove itself, and nobody in… whatever organization this is can sniff out a car bomb? 60s gangsters can sniff out a car bomb.
- I don’t think Karli Morgenthau is dead, but either way, we need way more black tweeners in these Marvel movies and comics. Killmonger is lonely.
- So after all of that, all of the Flag Smashers are presumed dead but one. The super soldier serum is in the hands of the living embodiment of America’s knuckle-headed, bully side. And while people aren’t being displaced, we’ve no idea what that means or how long that will last.
So… good work I guess?
2. On Captain America, Sam Wilson
- I knew the shield and the suit were coming and I still got excited about it. I didn’t want to like it because of all my cool, leftists friends on Twitter probably hate it, but I just can’t help it. Sam Wilson is still my favorite Captain America even though he always kind of sucks.
He can’t help it. He’s written to suck depending on your politics. Sam Wilson’s job is to allow for half measures that make people in power feel better. “Captain America has a Black friend” means that Captain America doesn’t have to stump for reparations or get the police defunded. Real black superheroes would likely not be working in the interest of the American government...
- I’ve been calling this show, “Captain America and the Winter Soldier” since it was announced because I’m Marvel comics clairvoyant.
- The right ending, in my opinion would have seen Sam joining with Karli, tagging along with the Flag Smashers to make sure they handle their insurgencies humanely.
- That his speech at the end made a difference was the most mythical, magical, Marvel universe thing to happen on the entire show. Even (movie) Steve Rogers hasn’t attempted such a thing without beating up an entire spy organization or kicking Loki in the nuts or whatever. Cringe.
- After that ending cookout with his crush, Bucky, he had better be flying around to every site to make sure those governments make good on whatever they told you they would do.
- Sam… you do represent people well. And I recognize my own cynicism may get in the way from time to time. I hope people that feel uplifted continue to enjoy your beautiful Black face in the stars and stripes. I still think show runner, Malcolm Spellman got a lot more right than he did wrong. And I’m still excited about my Marvel army guys in this upcoming movie that he is writing with Dalan Musson.
3. On The Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes
- Everyone isn’t going to agree with me, and they don’t have to, but there’s a line in the show that I always wanted to hear from a white man towards a Black man without it sounding contrived or being about his own feelings: “When Steve told me what he was planning, I don’t think either of us understood what it felt like for a Black man to be handed the shield. How could we? I owe you an apology. I’m sorry.”
Many white men that I know could never do this, so it was really nice to see.
- I think you should have made out with Sam’s sister like I wanted you to.
- Please don’t act like your therapy is over because you apologized to one person. Get your ass back to that office. Twice a week if you have to. If decades of media has taught me anything it’s that righteous violence does not just fix you.
- I’m still glad Isaiah whipped your ass 50 years ago. I hope we get to see that at some point.
- I’m also glad you moved forward from when last we saw you in this sprawling universe. That’s cool as a long time comics fan, I appreciate that. We seldom get that in the pages or anywhere else.
4. On Ex-Captain America now USAgent, John Walker
- Captain America John Walker is a cop and a Bad Apple. He killed a guy running away in cold blood. We have the camera footage to prove it, AND he did that to the wrong guy. After all that, Walker basically got put on administrative leave largely because he got caught.
That’s why we’re treated to Walker lying to Lamar’s parents. So we can see that they have no idea what he’d done and he could just… keep his super powered privilege, get a new job for an even more shady organization, and be friends with our law enforcement violence buddies again by the end. My god, you unbelievable piece of shit. I bet if one of the Flag Smashers killed anybody at all, they’d probably get murdered by the end of the show… Oh yeaaah…
- Why are they acting all chummy with John Walker after all that.
- Why is John Walker quoting Lincoln?
- At least his new costume doesn’t look like a confederate flag.
- I rewatch the Dora Milaje whipping his ass once a day. It makes me feel better about returning to USA.
5. On The Power Broker, Sharon Carter
- Nice… You needed something to do.
- We all knew Sharon was the Power Broker, but that whole “conversation while running from the good guys” thing going was just unnecessary.
- You really had better NOT have killed Batroc the Leaper.
- Congrats on ascending to your new big bad status, Sharon. You needed a glow up and you got it. For your first villainous act, find old Steve Rogers and make out with him so it can feel even more gross this time.
- Seeing a Mexican standoff end the way it should is pretty cool. Everyone gets shot.
6. On Elaine Benis… I mean “The Countess” Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
- Honestly, if Elaine asked me to be USAgent, I’d do it too.
- I really hope they bring Coulson back to give us Disney+ Presents: The New Adventures of Old Christine.
- The fact that we got to know that Zemo is officially a baron just before being introduced to “The Countess” is weird. This some kind of old power thing going on, or are we just being comics accurate here?
- The Countess on the show seems less like the character with that name from the comics and more of an analogue of Val Cooper who pretty much tells government superheroes and the X-Men what to do. It’s been annoying watching people write about the name rather than the character she seems to be, but I’m loving the remix.
7. On O.G. Black Captain America, Isaiah Bradley
- Just like a lot of negative, cynical old Black men, Isaiah said, “no self respecting black man would ever want to…” and it never helps. You can fit whatever you want to after that wouldn’t want to start a band, eat sushi, have a same sex lover. They know what to hate, but they never have a better idea. They never consider another way. They just want to kill your dreams and make you feel bad for having ever had them, then lie back down and go back to having their nightmares.
- I’m also mad that Elijah would see that statue of himself and get misty over it. I kinda thought he’d punch a dent in it. I guess he’s over those 30 years he lost. Ultimately, it’s better to see him come around than hold onto that rage and cynicism so hard. It’s a good lesson, but it’s hard for that to feel real.
- Carl Lumbly, I loved you in M.A.N.T.I.S.
8. On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on the whole?
- Weekly television is THE BEST! I really can't binge very well and prefer talking about things as they happen so this is nice for me.
- I think this is still the Blackest superhero show outside of Black Lightning which is blacker than a black hole’s funeral. Some fun Black things we definitely got:
- “You Louisiana negroes can’t get no loans!”
- “The experimented my black ass and locked me up for 30 years!”
- An entire community together coming to help with a cookout.
- Sam actually yelling at a Senator about being Black in his super hero costume. It reminded me of when Black Dynamite had to go fist fight Richard Nixon in his movie. I don’t know why this is.
- The cops only love you when you’re famous. Please defund.
In ULTIMATUM! I mean… Conclusion
So it was a fun series with great fight (and flight) scenes and a lot to say. I was surprised by how excited I got at times, but these are characters I’m connected to. I want to see them doing more with their fictional lives. I don’t want 4 versions of the same Batman with the same origin doing fighting the same villains. I don’t want reboots. I for damn sure don’t want reshoots.
Moving forward with new actors in new phases is a blessing as someone who enjoys this media. I’m glad to see it take big swings even when I don’t agree with it. It is just fiction after all. It matters a great deal, but we can always make more.
Like always, I struggle to feel the radical weight behind Sam Wilson, because he wasn’t really created for that. And that’s ok. Everyone doesn’t have to be. He was created as a 60's white man’s idea of an aspirational Black man. That’s why he used to be (sigh) a pimp. Depending on your politics, your mileage may vary.
In this series, we may not have gotten a believable way for Sam Wilson to change world governments, but we did get community action, strengthening friendships, painful honesty about dark times in which you had no control, a prison break (cause prisons are trash), belief in something bigger than yourself, a chance to see a superhero bond with people he just met rather than be aloof or resort directly to violence, and a group ultimately willing to die \ to further their aims.
And to that I say: