Note: The following article contains spoilers!
After Wandavision ended in early March, I was anxiously waiting to see the next step Marvel would take. The success and acclaim that came with Wandavision meant that Marvel could remake that TV magic, right? Well... That next TV step came in the form of another show following two other Avengers: The Falcon and the Winter Solider (for time's sake, I am going to abbreviate the show's title because it is a long one to type out every time). TFAWS follows Sam Wilson (the Falcon) and Bucky Barns (the Winter Solider) after the events that occur in Avengers: Endgame. Sam is financially trying to help his sister, Sarah, while Bucky is trying to overcome demons from his past. Before I get into details, I will be reviewing this differently than Wandavision. I will be reviewing the show as a whole, not breaking down each episode, and bolding the words that are spoilers.
At the beginning of the show, every Marvel fan will understand what is going on, but everyone else may not in terms of context. People should at least have a somewhat understanding of the events that happened in Endgame and Infinity War before watching this show. The plot to TFAWS is, I hate to say it, painfully boring. Every episode follows the same concrete structure every single time: 1) Issue arises, 2) Heroes find issue, 3) Heroes lose issue, 4) Self reflection, 5) Heroes find issue again, and something dramatic happens leaving the audience on a cliff-hanger till the next episode. I felt like I was watching one of the more unpopular Marvel movies every week. I almost said TFAWS was a movie due to how generic each episode felt. The only part of the story I truly liked was the Civil Rights aspect. The Falcon is a black man, and we learn more about his reasons for giving up Captain Americas (Steve Rodger's) shield, and how it goes so much deeper than just him not wanting to take up the shield. But that is about all I like in the plot. I will give credit to where credit is due, however. This show finished filming during the COVID-19 pandemic in October, and I feel that it is important to note all of the workers and healthcare providers that made it possible to bring this show to fans safely. However, I did hear that show suffered from the notorious "re-write syndrome" due to COVID-19 itself. There is strong evidence provided that there was to be a virus implemented somewhere into the main villain's story line, but was scrapped due to COVID still being an extremely relevant and deadly virus. I can neither confirm nor deny this theory, but that is the word on the street.
All the actors in this show give it their best, and I was very impressed by the level of dedication that went into each performance. Anthony Mackie does an excellent job as the Falcon (and the now Captain America), and Sebastian Stan gives an emotionally conflicted performance as The Winter Solider ("It's White Wolf"), although he is very under used throughout the show. Whenever Mackie and Stan are on screen, it is like a buddy cop movie, which is extremely enjoyable. The only down side is that the buddy cop theme can only save a show so much. The one who steals the show, however (at least until they ruin his character arc in the final episode), was Wyatt Russel's Captain America (Don't boo, just give me a second to explain). Russel captures the mental deterioration that comes with being the new Captain America. All eyes are on him at all times, and he needs to do what everyone wants him to do or else he will be publicly shamed for not being "Captain American" enough. Besides Russel being the absolute equivalent of a teddy bear in real life, his performance as John Walker is terrifying, especially in episode four. However, Marvel kind of botched the ending arc of his character. When he is faced between saving lives and killing the girl that killed his best friend, Karli Morganthau, he suddenly saves the lives of innocent people, when all throughout the show, were lead to believe that he would sacrifice everything to capture and kill Karli. I feel it was a contradiction of his character, but I suppose it also shows that he can be a loose cannon for later installments of Russels character. I may have just wanted to see an actual flawed villain with a good arc and intentions for once (besides Thanos), but Karli and John Walker will have to do, I suppose.
The main villain, who the show is so desperately trying to get us to side with, is Karli Morganthau, a teenager who took some super-solider serum and leads the Flag Smashed rebellion, a group that believes things during the five year span of time with half the population gone was better. I really tried to like Karli through all six episodes, but I honestly couldn't at some points. Her logic ran all over the place at times, and it made it hard to follow what she believed in as a character. The Flag Smashers themselves are just... so boring? They are a secret organization with supporters all over the world, but none of them are in the field of politics to help push for the things they believe in??? Help send food to those who need it??? Karli, making people wait around until you need them to do something isn't a rebellion, its a teacher during a Harkness discussion. And don't even get me started on the Power Broker 'side quest'.
While this show does have its flaws, I will credit it with it handling the topic of race in a very realistic way. I cannot talk on this subject much because I am a white woman, and it would not be my place to. I will say however, that the subject matter is very timely, and is not a passing comment or conversation: The subject of race is important to the overall story.
Overall, I must say I am a little disappointed in Marvel. While they finally have touched upon the subject of race, the rest of the show is just...meh. I am looking forward to see Sam and Bucky in the future with their new roles, but can't get the bad taste of lost opportunity with John Walker out of my mouth. I hope next time, Marvel will give us more substance, rather than more fighting and aimless cliffhangers that don't pay off. If the Loki show is anything like this, let's just say it's going to be a long summer.