Last week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier left things on a major cliffhanger with the appearance of a brand new Captain America, and things are about to get heated in the new episode, ‘The Star-Spangled Man’.
There’s a new shield carrier now in the Marvel Cinematic Walker, and John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the new Captain America is winning hearts and minds, all while doing his duty as the new defender of democracy. But Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) aren’t impressed and they’re certainly not fans of Walker’s. And this is going to make things interesting, especially as they grow closer in their investigations to uncover the motives of the anarchistic terrorist group The Flag Smashers.
Taking centre stage in Episode Two of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the character of John Walker (Wyatt Russell) aka the new Captain America, and they’re rolling out the red carpet for this new appointed American hero. An elite Special Forces Green Beret and three-time winner of the Medal of Honour, Walker is the perfect over-achieving patriot and is the total opposite to what Steve Rogers was. While he’s clearly got a mission to fulfil and a duty to follow, there’s an unease with Russell’s Walker, and it’s clear that he’s a tool for a government that still sees itself as the world’s peacemaker. And this has real significance to a changed MCU following the actions of the blip.
While we only get a tease of who John Walker is in ‘The Star-Spangled Man’, it’s clear that he’s not Steve Rogers. This is a man who’s known success and achievement his whole life, and who has never really taken a hard knock, add in the fury of commercial capitalism and a high-speed media tour and it’s clear that this Captain America is a whole new man and symbol. This new development in the MCU is a very interesting turn and director Kari Skogland is diving into the meeting of ‘celebrity meeting military’ and this is sure to make things intriguing as we move forward in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Reconnecting over the announcement of John Walker’s appointment as Captain America are Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes and neither of them is a fan of this decision. But they’ve got bigger problems on their hands with the anarchistic Flag Smashers, who are led by the enigmatic Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), and Skogland amps things up in ‘The Star-Spangled Man’ as Sam and Bucky go-to work against them. And it’s here where we first get to see their bickering friction come to the surface, and it’s very fun to watch. These two clearly don’t like each other, although they hate Walker more, and this dynamic of having to work together, while building trust with one another gives the series a whole new level of tension.
Each of these two men has their own ways of doing things, and this makes the episode’s peak action moment, a high-speed, open highway truck chase through Germany that much more exciting and Skogland keeps the adrenaline high. Sam and Bucky also get more than they bargained for with a battle between themselves and The Flag Smashers, who have been physically enhanced and we’re right back into the territory of super-soldiers. While I won’t go into specifics I will say that the idea of the ‘super-soldier’ is played out in an interesting manner within the episode, and there’s sure to be more questions asked of the super-soldier program and its use by both the U.S. Government and Hydra before this series ends.
Alongside new character dynamics and high-intensity action, ‘The Star-Spangled Man’ also introduces a brand new theme into the series, and the MCU, in the conflict between ideas of ‘patriotism vs liberty’. It’s clear that Walker, and his new partner Lemar Hoskins / Battlestar represent the unanswering patriotism of this series, while Wilson and Barnes have their own journey to undertake in the search for liberty and freedom. While we only see the start of this idea explored in ‘The Star-Spangled Man’ it’s clear that it’s going to take hold as the series progresses, and these two sides are certain to come into conflict as we move forward. And I’m certain that an old adversary will be keen to use this to his advantage.
Episode Two of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sure kept the drama interesting, and we’re in brand new territory in the MCU now post blip and the exploration of what truly makes a hero is sure to make for a fascinating spectacle.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+
Image: Walt Disney Pictures