blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) s01e01 – New World Order

So, when this episode started, I thought the thing to discuss would be the very obvious Pentagon underwriting of the script. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is now working for the Air Force… he’s going into sovereign nations and killing people. Yes, it’s a rescue mission but he’s there as an unregulated super-weapon for the U.S. military. He kills like ten plus. Far more than Sebastian Stan will (even though he’s supposed to be the irredeemable assassin).

Also it’s Disney. It’s a Disney show with a headshot in the first five minutes, then the hero killing a bunch of bad guys. Now, they’re French and white so it could be a lot worse, but still. Wow.

Only the body count and militarism is just the beginning. Because since the Blip, when all the people returned in Avengers: Endgame, America has gotten a lot more racist. It’s just a plot point. Let’s make the MCU more like 2021 United States by having Neo-Nazis all over. There’s also the implication the racism started during post-Infinity War, pre-Endgame, based on some subtext from Mackie’s sister, Adepero Oduye. She didn’t get Thanos-ed and had to take care of the family’s fishing business. She tries telling Mackie what happened while he was gone but he doesn’t want to hear so the viewer doesn’t either. Mackie’s got a seemingly toxic, controlling relationship with Oduye, which no doubt will get resolved after she and her children get taken hostage later in the series because of course they will.

They may even get taken hostage by a Neo-Nazi Captain America, which is going to have some amazing optics. I may be mixing up my Marvel Comics arcs, but it’s far from impossible.

Then there’s Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). He’s got a pardon for being a brainwashed Russian cyborg but he’s got to go to therapist Amy Aquino, who wants him to make amends. Sometimes making amends is doing some fun kind of spy stuff to root out corruption, sometimes making amends is the most tragic thing you can imagine for a couple characters and seemingly will just serve to traumatize Stan over and over again.

Don Cheadle shows up for a cameo. Given the story’s about the U.S. Government screwing Mackie over because he’s Black and Black people can’t be inspiring Americans, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Cheadle still working for them.

What else… Danny Ramirez is Mackie’s sidekick in the Air Force, who’ll probably Red Shirt at some point. No one else shows up.

Okay performance from Mackie, who’s playing a way too naive character for what the show seems to be going for; Stan’s really good. It’s kind of unfair how much better than Mackie, like they should’ve adjusted and compensated. Also Stan gets top-billing, which is a big diss to Mackie, who’s clearly the protagonist.

Kari Skogland’s direction is fine, but much closer to middling than okay.

“Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is off to a very rough start and it’s hard to believe they’re not going to cop out on all the stuff they’re introducing. But even if they don’t cop out, they won’t be able to properly address it.

Like George Clooney said (regarding a potential adaptation of Garth Ennis’s MAX Fury comic), “Who would want to watch that?”

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