THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: Analysis of the first episode

The 4th Fase of the MCU is officially started with WandaVision and since friday 19 March 2021 continues with the new series of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

The series takes place six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame and follows the story of Sam Wilson/Falcon and James Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier who try to adjust to the new reality.

We have watched the first episode titled ” A New Word Order” and in this article we are going to analyze it.

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t watched the episode, keep reading at your own risck.

SAM WILSON AND CAP’S SHIELD

The first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier starts with Sam (Antony Mackie) preparing for a press conference. He looks at Cap’s Shield while his last words repeats themselves in his mind.

Steve: How does it feel?
Sam: Like it’s someone else’s.
Steve:
It isn’t.

– from Avengers: Endgame

The first part of the episode focuses on Sam and Cap’s heritage. It is an heavy heritage for the winged Avenger that makes him struggle about what to do. Sam doesn’t feel good enought to take the shield and become the next America’s symbol. As he claims during the cerimony in honor of Cap, the Super Soldier was a symbol for evryone, a symbol of bravery, virtue and optimism and no one will never be able to replace him.

“Steve represented the best of all of us. Courageous, righteous, hopeful. And he mastered posing stoically. The world has been forever changed. A few months ago, billions of people reappeared after five years away, sending the world into turmoil. We need new heroes. Ones suited for the times we’re in. Symbols are nothing without the women and men that give them meaning. And this thing…( takes the shield). I don’t know if there’s ever been a greater symbol. But it’s more about the man who propped it up and he’s gone. So, today we honor Steve’s legacy. But also, we look to the future. So, thank you Captain America.”

– Sam Wilson/Falcon in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Not even Rudy, attending the cerimony, can convince him. Sam claims that the world don’t need another Captain America because it has been surviving for 70 years while Cap was hibernated. However, Colonel Rhodes thinks otherwise. The world has become a crazy place after the blip, people has become unstable, friends has become enemies and there are no allies anymore. The world’s broken and, for War Machine, it needs somebody to fix it. Sam doesn’t believe to be the persone the world needs.

The conversation mirrors that between Steve and Coulson in The Avengers when the Super Soldier was recruited to fight against the imminent alien invasion. Even then the world was upside down and Steve had doubts like Sam. The Super Soldier also didn’t feel good enought for the mission he was called for.

Steve: I hope I am the man for the job.

Coulson: Oh you are, absolutely. We made some modifications to the uniform. I had a little design input the uniform.

Steve: Stars and Stripes a little old-fashioned.

Coulson: Everything that’s happening , the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old fashioned.

– from The Avengers

JOAQUIN TORRES

torres falcon

Always in the first part of the episode, we see Sam/Falcon helps the U.S. Army in a rescue mission. A terorist groupcalled LAF has kidnapped Captain Vassant. In a sequence of action scenes, we follows Falcon rescuing successfully the kidnapped military man.

The rescue mission has been coordinated by the lieutenant Joaquin Torres who, we see, after the mission, talking with Sam. They are talking while Sam fix Redwing that has been damaged during the mission.

In the series, Joaquin Torres, played by Danny Ramiz, is presented like a young soldier of the U.S. Air Force, an intelligence officer and Sam’s friend. In the comics, Torres takes the identity of Falcon after he takes Captain America’s identity. While in the tv series he appears like a normal trained human, in the comics instead he is genetically modified with Redwing’s DNA.

REDWING AND FALCON

Redwing appeared for the first time in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is presented like a smart drone created by Stark Industries. It is part of Falcon’s equipment. In the comics instead, it is a real falcon brought by Sam in Rio. The hero shares a mental link with the animal due to the genetic manipolation made by Red Skull with the Cosmic Cube, the Tesseract.

Redwing’s genetic manipulation by Hydra has given to the animal some particular traits. These special characteristics are the passed to Torres. The boy indeed develops an regenerative healing factor and his arms turns into a sort of wings. Moreover, he also shares the same mental link with the falcon and Sam.

In the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the character is just introduced, we will discover his role and his destiny in the next episodes. Now, we can say that Torres and Sam seems to be friends in the series like in the comics.

BATROC THE LEAPER

Batroc falcon

The terrorist group that Sam faces in the rescue mission is led by Batroc the Leaper. The name is not mentioned in the episode but it appears in the credits.

Batroc is a french mercenary, master of Savate. In the comics, he is one of the Captain America’s enemies, a really strong trained acrobat able to stand up the Super Soldier. He appeared for the first time in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and he is played by Georges St-Pierre.

BUCKY AND THE PTSD

The episode continues and after the introduction of Sam’s situation and Cap’s heritage, we see Bucky Barnes with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Desorder).

Bucky falcon

The ex Hydra assassin suffers of nightmares where he relives his long and troubled past, he relives his past missions and he sees againg the face of who he killed. We get to know that he received the government clemency for his past crimes and that this is subordinated to therapy. Indeed, Bucky sees a therapist who he has to keep update about his mental state. He has been de-programmed and, as the therapist says, now he is free to live his life but he can’t.

The present is a new and unknown place for him and he is oppressed by the weight of his past and the evil things he did. Moreover, he suffers of solitude, everyone he knew are now old or dead and his best friend, the only one who could have understood him, is gone. Bucky talks about his sister and he use the present tense so we can suppose she is still aliva but for her he died long time ago.

Therapist: You’re alone. You’re a hundred years old. You have no history, no family…

Bucky: Are you lashing out at me, Doc? Because that’s really unprofessional, you know? When did that start? Yelling at your clients?(the therapist takes the notebook) The notebook. That’s great. All right, give me a break. I’m trying, okay? This is new for me. I didn’t have a moment to deal with anything, you know? I had a little calm in Wakanda. And other than that, I just went from one fight to another for 90 years.

Therapist So, now that you’ve stopped fighting, what do you want?

Bucky: Peace.

Therapist: That is utter bullshit.

Bucky: You’re a terrible shrink.

Therapist: I was an excellent soldier, so I saw a lot of dead bodies and i know how that can shut you down. And if you are alone, that is the quietest, most personal hell. And, James, it is very hard to escape. Look, I know that you have been through a lot but you’ve got your mind back, you are being pardoned. I mean, these are good things. You’re free.

Bucky: To do what?

– from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Sebastian Stan has done a great job in portraying this Winter Soldier torn apart between past and present. He has come back to the the 40ties Sergeant Barnes. His gallantry and sarcasm are evidences, they are tipic traits of the old Bucky. However, at the same time, he is not the same person anymore, he has lived so many things for a simple WWII soldier. As he tells the therapist, he has spent 90 years of different conflicts and now it’s all new for him.

From the therapy session we also get to know that the ex sovietic assassin has trust issues. He does not trust anyone, neither himself. His condition is very similar to that of Steve Rogers when he woke up. After 70 years of ibernation, Cap has founf himself in a totally different world, alone, with nightmares of his past. Just like Bucky, he has gome from a confict to another one: from the WWII to the alien invasion, fron Ultron to Thanos.

“I went under the world was at war. I wake up they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost.”

– Captain America/Steve Rogers in The Avengers

Maybe if Steve had never gone away, together he and Bucky could have faced better the situation. Sure we can be mad at him for a unique selfish decision after an altruistic life. However, we can’t avoid to wonder: Where is the “till the end of the line”?.

CAPTAIN AMERICA’S HERITAGE

bucky falcon

So, it’s clear that both Sam and Bucky are in a bad situation. Both of the are facing an inner conflict, worsened by the everyday problems.

As we have already seen, Sam does not feel good enought to replace Cap. In a statement for the series release, Mackie said that “Sam considers the shield a representation of the country that we live in. There’s alot of trepidation as far as how does a Black man represent a country that does not represent him?”. Moreover, the winged hero has family issues. Indeed, his sistes Sarah, widow with two children, has financila problems. Not even Sam as an Avenger can help her to get a loan from the bank. Apparently, saving the earth and millions of people is not a good qualification for the bank. Sure, it is to get a selfie or a handshake.

Bucky, on the other hand, can’t integrate with the present and leave behind his past. He wants to make amends for what he did, indeed he has a list of people to ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately, It’s hard to ask for forgiveness to a father who lost his kid because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sam and Bucky represent the two aspect necessary to take Captain America’s heritage, thery are the perfect soldier and the good man who can keep up Steve’s symbol.

Sam alone can’t support the weight to carry Captain America’s Shield but maybe Bucky can help him. Sebastian Stan claimed in a statement that “They’reboth, whether they want to or not, in the shadow of what Captain America means”.

For now, they haven’t met yet, we’ll see in the next episodes what will happen and the story will evolve. From the trailer and the clips shared, it seems that they will a caotic and dynamic duo.

JOHN WALKER/CAPTAIN AMERICA

In the meantime, America moves on. At the end of the episode, under the disappointed and incredulous look of Sam, the same man who had told him to have made a good decision to donate the Shield proclaims a new Captain America.

“Unrest, in the wake of recent events has left us vulnerable. Everyday Americans feel it. While we love heroes who put their lives on the line to defend Earth, we also need a hero to defend our country. We need a real person who embodies America’s greatest values. We need someone to inspire us again, someone who can be a symbol for all of us. So, on behalf of the Department of Defense and our Commander-in-Chief, it is with great honor that we announce here today that the United States of america has a new hero. Join me in welcoming your new Captain America.”

The identity of the new Captain America isn’t revealed but from some statements we get to know that he is John Walker, played by Wyatt Russel, a marine called to replace Cap as the America’s symbol.

In the comics, Walker was a soldier who with the identity of Super Patriot traveled throught America propagandizing against Captain America that he considered old. With the help of some friends, he faked false aggressions where he defeated the enemies. He was noticed by the Commission who at the time was looking for someone to replace Steve Rogers after he refused to work as a government agent.

For the moment, in the series he has been only introduced and, from how he has been presented, he seems to have the same role of Steve Rogers after the experiment with Super Soldier Serum, that is a propaganda puppet. At the time, Steve also traveled through America acting in shows for propaganda. Wlaker’s task would be to make people feel safe and represented. So, he seems to not be a real hero but a government puppet.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, the fisrt episode of The Falcon and The Winter soldier is obviously an introduction of the story. It is not clear yet who is the enemy and many characters has not appeared yet such Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl).

The series includes 6 episodes, the first one arouses curiosity. Let’s hope that they are enough to tell the story that seems to have a lot on its plate.

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