The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2 ” The Star-Spangled Man” Review

The buddy cop aspect of the miniseries with Bucky Barnes ( Winter Soldier) and Sam Wilson (Falcon) starts in the second episode.

Spoilers Below

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode Two, ” The Star-Spangled Man,” directed by Kari Skogland, has Bucky and Sam taking on the Flag-Smashers in Germany. After seeing John has been crowned Captain America, Bucky calls Sam out for surrendering the shield. He crashes Falcon’s mission. The two heroes try to stop the Flag-Smashers led by British Karli Morgenthau. John and his side-kick Lemar Hoskins, a.k.a. Battlestar, hijack their mission. Neither buddy team can capture Karli or any of the other Flag-Smashers. By the end of ” The Star-Spangled Man,” New Captain America is the frenemy of Sam and Bucky. They are all battling to dismantle the terrorist organization the Flag-Smashers.

Sam and Bucky make a great “buddy cop” team with their snide comments to one another. The  superheroes have fantastic chemistry together since they have two very different personalities. Bucky is a broody tortured man who has PTSD from the years he spent as Hydra’s Winter Soldier assassinating innocent people. He stares people down. When Dr. Christina Raynor has them do a couple’s therapy exercises, Sam calls him out on for constantly starring. Sam is an optimistic, outgoing, focused superhero. He is also a Black man who doesn’t feel like he can represent the United States when there is systematic racism. Sam reluctantly lets John take the Captain America mantle because of the Military’s might. Bucky criticizes Falcon for giving up being Captain America when they are tossed off the roof of an armored car. He wryly states that they could have used the shield at that moment. Bucky and Sam’s fast-paced repartee add must-needed humor since the MCU works best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“The Star-Spangled Man” further explores racism in the United States through Sam Wilson and a newly introduced Black super-soldier named Isaiah Bradley. Bucky takes Sam to Baltimore to meet Isaiah, a U.S. Military Veteran. The Winter Soldier met the veteran during the Korean war. He was sent to stop Hydra’s top assassin Bucky. Isaiah only lets Bucky in because he is curious to see if he still has his bionic arm. He ripped it off after their last fight. Isaiah was one of the few men who survived a battle with the Winter Solider. The meeting turns sour the minute Bucky brings up the fact that there more super-soldiers are out there like them.  He throws a tin container right into the wall puncturing the hard material. Sam realizes that Isaiah got injected with the same serum as Bucky and Steve. While Steve became Captain America and was heralded as a war hero for his transformation, Isaiah, a Black man, was kept hidden. He was locked up in a military prison for thirty years while they experimented on him. Even Bucky, who killed innocent Americans for years, was let free with minimal supervision. The only real difference between the best friends and Isaiah is the former two are White. The military experimenting on Isaiah reminds me of how during World Two, they tested chemicals on Black soldiers without their express permission. Outraged, the Korean veteran throws Bucky and Sam out of his home. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier calls out police violence against Black men the minute Sam walks out of the house.

Sam and Bucky verbally fight over the secret of Isaiah’s existence. The police pull over. They point their guns at Sam. One of the White cops asks Bucky if Sam is bothering him. The cops thinking that the Falcon is the problem is genuinely bizarre since he is a military contractor. Bucky is the one who’s essentially a parolee. Sam tells the cops that the two men are good. The cops ordered him to calm down. But nobody is yelling or getting agitated. Sam’s a Black man meaning he is considered a threat. The police only change their tune when Bucky points out he is the Falcon. Then the cops apologize for harassing an Avenger. The police’s behavior change reminds me how Black celebrities always talk about how the police mistreat them until the second somebody realizes they are “powerful.”

Episode Two also reveals why Karli and the rest of the Flag-Smashers want the world to return to what it was like during the “blip.” MCU fans might find it understand why they would want to return to blip times because Avengers: Endgame made that time look bleak. Karli gives a speech about how all the governments seem to only care about the people who reappeared. She mentions that they had a glimpse of what the world could be. Then they all chant, ” One World. One People”. Karli and the rest of the Flag-Smashers seem to appreciate how all the borders evaporated during the blip. Earth was treated as one whole country since most of the world’s population was gone. Even though the blip was a difficult time they miss society’s connective nature where nobody was treated as less than based on their country of origin.

“The Star-Spangled Man” is very engaging since they tackle real issues like terrorism, racism, and white privilege. The “cop buddy” element epitomizes the comedic aspect of the formula that makes the MCU work.  The miniseries is not as experimental or emotionally powerful as WandaVision, but it’s a solid story with deep character development.

Post Author: Paloma Bennett

Paloma Bennett is a film and television reviewer based out of Los Angeles. As a member of the LGBTQ+ Community, a feminist, a voracious reader, and a super fan, she’s tapped into today’s mercurial identity-based culture. She brings this engaged understanding of contemporary culture to her film and television reviews. Her work can be found on Whedonopolis, Fandomopolis, Women at Warp, FanBolt, and her blog Decoding the Daemoverse. Paloma has also produced and co-hosted the monthly film podcast “Jump Start Cinema” sponsored by New Filmmakers Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz and a Masters in Cinema Critical Studies from San Francisco State University. Paloma has a passion for everything pop culture, including TV shows, movies, comic books, and podcasts. The first significant fandom she was geeky about was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s a proud member of the Star Trek LA Away Team.

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