Age of Heroes: Revisiting Falcon and the Winter Soldier

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Hannah A. Papasin
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

Marvel Studios is on a roll lately.

With Loki now having his own series, the Black Widow’s much-delayed film debut finally having its theatrical release date, it is hard-pressed to find a person – fan or non-fan – who has not heard or is not familiar with any of the adaptations/spin-offs of the superhero franchise.

One of the latest to come out is Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which explores the story arcs of two of Captain America’s best friends (sidekicks?).

With Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles in the MCU, miniseries finds the odd couple suddenly misplaced, as the Avengers has since disbanded with the deaths of Captain America, and Iron Man post-snap.

The plot is derivative as derivative can get, and we will not bother to get into the details (let’s just say it involves yet again another shady terrorist organization, which might not be terrorist; an agent gone rogue, and an unholy alliance with one of the most memorable villains in the Universe).

What FATWS did however was deal with the issues that most superhero films skirt: what happens when normalcy comes back, and the world suddenly finds itself in a relatively peaceful space.

While Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy (arguably the best superhero movies in a while) gets philosophical about ethical choices, and explores the darker side of humans, and how heroes could get to the other side given the right – or wrong – push, FATWS gets to less existential but also equally important questions.

For instance, at one point Falcon aka Sam Wilson, was trying to get his life and act together by helping his sister get their boat up and running.  He finds that he could not get by on good will alone, because he was Snapped out for five years. 

The lack of support by the system, really by the government, is appalling yet accurate as f*ck.  Never mind that he helped saved earth, heck the universe.  His story parallels the way organizations – communist parties, movements, governments – treat their veterans and toss them away after they are done with them.

The issue of race is of course addressed as this is after all made in a country that is trying its it best to deny that racism is still alive and well. 

How can you deal with a Black superhero?  By not dealing with him, period.  Despite the fact that Captain America all but handed the mantle to his best friend, the government went the other way and opted for a white superhero because he can better serve the role as the national mascot more than a person of color.

Unfortunately for the new Captain America aka John Walker (played with relish by Wyatt Russel also known as Kurt Russel’s son), he eventually lost the shield when he very publicly killed one of America’s enemies in broad daylight (he should have done that in the dark, you know, without drones or cameras – didn’t he get the memo?).

And so the issue on protecting corporate image – America’s mascot is not supposed to be killing dissidents in full view of the public; he should have hunted his quarry after dark! – comes into play.  

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