Spoilers will wait in the car.
One of the most polarizing things you can do with the superhero subgenre is analyze patriotism. Back in the day of 80’s action movies, this was unthinkable. Your hero was the american hero, your villain was the lowest of the low. The real world has this habit of leaking into modern fiction that you can’t really avoid. The ideals of patriotism in this show are firmly tied to the concept of Captain America, the shining beacon for all superheroes, and his symbol, the shield. As it soon will become obvious, the image changes depending on who bears the shield.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (2021) was created by Malcolm Spellman and directed by Kari Skogland. Shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are trying to adjust back to their lives. The world is still reeling from half the population disappearing and reappearing afterwards in a phenomenon known as The Blip. Sam seems to be trying to include some of civil life between his missions, which leads to some awkward situations in which he finds out being part of the Avengers does not break down all barriers. Bucky on the other hand, has a lot of atonement to do and must comply with regular therapy visits.
The show does not shy away from heated topics, such as Sam still having to deal with racial bias from law enforcement or even bank employees. Everyone (including possibly the audience) expected every member of the Avengers to somehow live in luxury just because of Tony Stark. Sam also has to deal with the responsibility of being the recipient of Cap’s shield – something he decides to give to the government. That doesn’t sit well with Bucky at all, specially when the government decides to name a new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell). Sam doesn’t like this guy. Bucky doesn’t like this guy. We don’t like this guy.
Their enemies on the other hand, are all shades of grey. The Flag-Smashers are an anti-patriotic group that seem to have managed to obtain a recreation of the super-soldier serum. Led by Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), they want to change the world back to what it was during The Blip and destroy all concept of national borders. They also seem to be giving food to the needy. All the same, they are not above killing people they deem enemies, specially the military forces of the GRC (Global Repatriation Council).
Despite Walker suggesting they collaborate, Sam and Bucky prefer to go at it alone. This results in them using unorthodox methods that will have them traveling to known locations in the Marvel universe, not to mention working alongside known antagonists like Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and old friends like Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). Despite these implications, Sam and Bucky seem to still hold themselves to certain standard while Walker appears to be ready to break his own code. Although that’s the general feel, the truth is both camps seem to have thrown the rulebook out the window.
Highly recommended with reservations. The rules of engagement seem to be rewritten every episode, which I’m willing to overlook as long as they can keep the entertainment value up. There seems to be a blurry line between what is needed to be done and how it should be done. The ends seem to justify the means for one team while judging the team on the enemy lines doing just about the same. I’m sure at some point there will be some tangible evidence as to why the heroes have the higher ground. I think it works better when they realize they don’t and reevaluate themselves. I’m just hoping there’s a plan and the showrunners are not just winging it.
That will do for now.