KARACHI: Before we start with how the ending of Falcon and the Winter Soldier extends newer branches for continuation, it is important to note, Marvel has been quick to swoop in and take social issues as its themes since the start of the 4th Phase. Infinity War and Endgame brought themes of depression and alcoholism, and just how important it is to be there through someone’s recovery when they showed Thor recovering from his failure when Endgame begins. Some very proud moments where feminism stood tall are presented to the audiences too, as female Avengers are united to fight supervillain Proxima in Infinity War when Scarlet Witch is under attack.
It does not end there. Marvel brings together even more female superheroes join together to fight Thanos and his children for Endgame. A scene that not only brought loud applause in theatres but also tears of joy.
WandaVision, the first TV miniseries that MCU produced, ending just before Falcon and the Winter Soldier was released. WandaVision had a more fantastical approach to the social issues pertaining to mental health, and why it is important to properly grieve and step out of an alternate reality we all tend to create at some point. While Wanda has the power to manifest it by allowing it to take control of her reality, we too allow our grief to sometimes take over our reality by refusing to step out of our denial. Chaos magic, witches, and sorcery – while the setting and the action may not be as relatable, the underlying theme was. Falcon and the Winter Soldier, however, takes things a step further by using a more grounded approach to address its themes.
Captain America: The First Avenger is the parent film of the chain that led to Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The show does take in some over-the-top Wakandan technology, but the issues and how the protagonists decide to deal with them are very real. Bucky Barnes, formerly The Winter Soldier is in therapy after coming to terms with what his body was brainwashed into doing. He has a metal arm after Doctor Zola got rid of his injured arm. For the first time, we see a superhero who is differently-abled. It is no surprise to see the shock, betrayal, and heartbreak flashes all over his face after Dora Milaje disarms him during their fight.
The scene was disturbing to watch if you think how many differently-abled people it may have triggered. Experimented on with super-serums, put into cryosleep only woken up to kill someone, Bucky is out of time as the show begins. He is struggling with bonding after his best friend Steve Rogers took the time capsule to spend his life with Peggy Carter. We are quick to compare him with Steve, and how he too woke up after 70 years. But the difference is, Steve was not someone he would not want to be while he was unconscious. Bucky on the other hand has done things his conscious self could never possibly imagine doing. The bigger fight is internal than external.
People of color
Things are completely different for Sam. While both heroes take on the same challenge, fighting a group of young people called the Flag Smashers both of them tackle the situation differently. Bucky is not as affected by a Black Supersoldier than Sam is. Sam is a black person himself realizes how hard it has been for people of color and the representation they seek. When they have an argument on the street, the police automatically assume Sam must be ‘bothering’ Bucky, because he is black and the latter is white. Police brutality and systemic racism are something that the show has rushed at every opportunity to expose. Refused a bank loan, having his shield taken away which Captain America himself gave him, considered part of the problem by the cops, all because of his black skin, Sam Wilson makes it a point to give everyone a piece of his mind at the end of the show.
The refugee crisis and internally displaced persons
The most difficult part about the situation is that what they want is absolutely just, but the havoc they wreak reflects the actions of those very people who they aim to fight. While these displaces people come from a time pre-Endgame, who found resources for survival easily after half the population of the world was wiped out, they were displaced after everyone came back five years later. The same corrupt systems were back in place throwing them out of their homes and redefining the borders that had earlier dissolved.
While their aim One World, One People, is perhaps what the world needs right now, but what the show aims to highlight towards its ending is that securing supremacy for oneself is by no means the solution. It is either equality for all or just everyone who is power-hungry waiting for their chance at the top of the food chain. That way, you become the bullies you have been fighting against and get caught in the crossfire you created yourself. It also looks at revolution and how one needs to go to great lengths to have your voice heard. To defeat supremacy, one cannot become a supremacist themselves.
The show also highlights the facade governments pull off to suggest they are helping refugees when in reality none of these refugees have been helped. It also elaborates on their struggles and how quickly people who won’t know any better will label them as terrorists for trying to escape war, poor living conditions, and violence. Too easily do the victims’ identities get confused with their perpetrators in a country where they sought refuge. The reason? Ignorance and hate abstaining the truth of the matter from penetrating one’s mind and heart.
The ‘image’ of the soldier matters more than his legacy. “The star-spangled man with a plan” is what Steve Rogers started out as. Nothing but propaganda as America underwent World War II.
He initially did nothing but become the image of the soldier who will never go to battle, but show everyone how important he is. He hated every minute of it and took control by actively participating in the war. The new Captain America is once again just what Steve was supposed to initially be: just propaganda for tough times.
The media shows him as a go-getter, a hero everyone needs, but do they? Or do they need someone who can calculate, empathize and bring down the hate and division? Captain America was never supposed to physically be strong. He was just supposed to be ‘a good man’.
Sharon Carter turns out to be the power-broker by the end. She has infiltrated the intelligence and plans on supplying weapons to her potential buyers. Now how that unfolds is something we have yet to see, but that is not really something you didn’t see coming, did you? For what is worth, we have the new Captain America and old (very old) Bucky Barnes to sort things out once she exposes herself.
With MCU rolling out the most promising projects every now and then, we have nothing but high hopes for the upcoming TV miniseries – Loki.