Remember when, during the Marvel movies, character development for Falcon and The Winter Soldier just kinda… stopped? They both reached a level and plateaued and, to be honest, I never really noticed until this series came along. I don’t really fault the MCU for this lack of development because, come on… there were so many characters that someone was going to fall by the wayside. With Bucky, Wanda, and Sam finally the stars of their own vehicles, they’re finally getting a chance to shine and, as we have seen, they are not just shining, they are supernova’ing.
Take Sam and Bucky, for example. Sam has become a character fixing a spotlight on how race is still a problem in the MCU. He has imposter syndrome, feeling that, as a black man, he isn’t worthy of a position he’s earned. He is gaslighted by those n power to think that his decision to give up the mantle of Captain America was the right thing to do, and he’s replaced by someone that these same people see as more invocative of the image of The United States. In addition to this, we’ve seen several times how he is still the victim of microaggressions, both in banks, on the streets from police officers, and even children of his own race. For a cinematic universe that touched on these issues once in Black Pather and then kind of let it all go, this is bold and audacious.
The scene, for example, where Bucky and Sam meet Isiah is powerful. It is well acted, well written… It’s uncomfortable and rightly should be. I’m more invested in Sam’s story than I ever have been.
Bucky, on the other hand, has become an analogy for PTSD. While this is a subject that has been, oh… let’s say “grazed” by the MCU, Falcon and the Winter Soldier look poised to take it head on and, while I will admit that it is a subject that doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as the low-key racism that Sam faces, it is omnipresent as Bucky is finally being given a chance to develop and grow naturally instead of being sandwiched between the major players of the MCU.
The thing that I am truly appreciating about this series, however, is that the writers aren’t making things easy for the audience. The new Captain America, John Walker, is not a terrible person. As a matter of fact, he seems like a pretty good guy. Time is spent setting up who he is and what he stands for. We sympathize with him and, in any other circumstance, he would have been a rightful heir to the shield. I mean, let’s face it… the only reason why most of the fans hate him is because he was chosen to be Captain America over Sam. That’s really it.
Could he be a villain later on? Quite possibly, but for now he’s just a guy doing the best he can and coming into conflict with other characters through little effort on his own. This is the best kind of conflict, in my opinion.
I’m very happy over the direction this series is taking. It appears bold, audacious, the action sequences are great, and the dialogue between Sam and Bucky is a lot of fun to watch.
If anything, this is proving why the supporting characters of the MCU need more screentime. They have so much to offer.