Spoilers spoilers spoilers, I mean if you clicked this, I’m not sure why you weren’t expecting spoilers, but be warned because if you read further there are in fact spoilers.
If you learned anything from my WandaVision reviews it’s that I’m an MCU nerd that knows nothing about what she’s talking about. I like to watch and be entertained, but a lot – and I mean a lot – of the higher level theory is lost on me. I just want to see some hot people kick some ass. So keep that in mind any time I’m talking about TFATWS.
In last weeks The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’s episode, we finally got Bucky and Sam together in action. I’ve been waiting for this show since it’s been announced, Sam and Bucky are two of my favorite characters, mostly because Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie are two of my favorite humans. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they’re both incredibly talented. Something that I was anxious about since I started, was how and if the topic of race would come up. I knew with the timing of the show and how the world was playing out, having a black superhero show would and should try to talk about how that’s difficult. What I wasn’t expecting was to be hit in the face with the saddest story in the god damn marvel universe.
Bucky introduces Sam to Isaiah Bradley, who in the show is a war vet and a super soldier, a black super soldier. A black super soldier that Sam has never fucking heard of. I obviously had to do some googling and see what this character was in the comics, and when I tell you I was SOBBING reading his wiki page… I was sobbing. I’m sure the show won’t get into the same detail that the comics did, but Isaiah Bradley was essentially, the Black Captain America, a biproduct of the super soldier serum gone wrong. He’s mistreated by the American government, sentenced to jail, and has long lasting side effects of the serum. But he’s a hero among Black people. The Black characters in the comics are OBSESSED with this man and celebrate him. Whereas in the MCU, it’s clear that no one has ever heard of him, which is disheartening to say the least. There’s a type of camaraderie that Black people have with their heros and leaders, and to eliminate that is upsetting. I would much rather have had Bucky and Sam walk into Isaiah’s house and have Sam act shocked that Bucky knew Isaiah, as opposed to not knowing him at all.
Anyways, that’s not even the part that I’m most annoyed with.
While Sam and Bucky are sitting with the therapist, and Bucky is explaining why he’s upset that Sam gave up the shield, Sam says that it’s something that him nor Steve could or would ever understand. A line that went right over my head at first. I just assumed he was referring to how he could never live up to Steve’s legacy, which is probably a part of it, but what I’m now realizing is that he meant that he, as a black person, could not have been Captain America, to represent America as a whole. Sam knows that America would not have been accepting of a Black Captain America, something that a white person would not have thought of. Steve and Bucky are really fucking liberal considering they’re two white men from the 40s, but it’s obvious they never would have put two and two together as to exactly why Sam gave up the shield.
This line and this reasoning is so fucking important, but it was so poorly done. This was an opportunity to have a full conversation, between Bucky, Sam, even the white therapist, about how race plays into Sam’s life as a hero. He’s saved the world several times at this point yet he can’t get a loan, his family is broke, and he got pulled over by the cops for “attacking” Bucky. He lives a different life because he’s Black. But instead of hitting, the probably mostly white, audience over the head with it, they tossed in this one singular line and expected people to understand. I’m Black and didn’t understand it at first. Maybe I’m dumb, but regardless, it was a throwaway line that could and should have meant more.
It’s frustrating to see the missed opportunity for education in something that will be seen by so many people.