Marvel Hits Race & Nationalism Issues In Falcon and The Winter Soldier
This week on Falcon and Winter Soldier Captain America John Walker tainted 70 years of Shield’s legacy in 70 seconds. Walker or better we call him US Agent killed a man while the whole world was watching. Marvel created another controversy by overhauling Steve Rogers’s legacy. And broke the heart of millions of fans around the world. In its course of about a month, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier deliberately touched upon many social evils such as race, inequality and now supremacy.
Saviour Turned Into Satan – Police Brutality
While there was no intention of it the Disney+ series is very resonating with today’s times. John Walker killing a Flagsmasher, in pure rage after losing his partner cum moral compass, can happen to anyone. In our times, police brutality isn’t a new concept. Very recently, in the UK, police brutally cracked down a vigil in memory of a woman named Sarah Everard. She went missing and later was found dead, amid the current Covid lockdown, people came out to show their support. In 2020, the killing of George Floyd gave a new meaning to the Black Lives Matter moment and brought America’s racial discrimination to the forefront.
Our saviours can sometimes turn against us – Sam and Bucky are touching upon that reality very well. As the Falcon and The Winter Soldier series progresses most marvel fans will be glad to finally get a taste of some much-needed movie-style action. After the global pandemic forced a seismic shift towards digital media, it seemed to tally well with Marvel’s unique phase four plans somehow – weird coincidence? After Thanos snapped away half of the universe, there was a five-year gap before the start of the events of Avenger: Endgame which saw Captain America gather the team for one last mission.
MCU Creating A Dialogue
Aside from character development, it is clear Marvel intends to use the TV shows to also explore how the world fared after “The Blip”. Considering WandaVision took place largely in a fantasy world created by Wanda Maximoff, FTWS provides the chance to properly immerse viewers in a post-Thanos world through the eyes of two men with very different backgrounds.
The first episode sees Sam Wilson try to help his sister get a loan from a bank as he battles with financial difficulties. Bucky on the other hand, is on compulsory therapy, which was a requirement of his government deal. More strikingly however, is Sam’s discussion with the loan officer at the bank which is significant because it addressed a very dormant question in the minds of most viewers. “How do you guys make money anyway?” the loan officer quizzed before refusing to approve the loan altogether.
While it was limited to little bits of action, the first episode did well to lay out the plot for the rest of the series and how it bordered on race and nationalism. Ignoring its similarities to today’s world would be impossible, seeing as race and world power politics are the center of the conversation.
Addressing the Nationalism & Race Issues in Marvel Way
Recently, Variety Magazine sat down with head writer for FTWS, Malcolm Spellman to find out how the ingenious plan to craft such similarities was born. Spellman was asked about the decision to start the series exploring the characters separately, especially considering that the whole first episode doesn’t show them both together.
Spellman stated that as much as Sam and Bucky where well-known members of the Avengers, much of their personal life was never brought to the light. He explained that its easier because viewers already know these characters well enough to care about the little details.
Further, Spellman was quizzed about the decision to make it look like the government deceived Sam into giving up the shield, only to later announce a white Captain America. Spellman responded, explaining that it was a deliberate team decision. “The magic of embracing diversity in the writer’s room and having an almost all-Black staff allows you to tap into pop culture. I mean, Black folk are the masters of it, and when we get a shot, to do what we do, it is universal for everyone because our struggle and our point of view is a concentrated version of the greater human struggle.”
Reel life mimicking Real life Struggles
Spellman spoke further about how symbolic the black moments in the series are going to mirror the real-life struggles of black folks today. From Sam trying to secure a bank loan but failing, to the discussion in the lobby between Rhoadey and Sam about the shield, it was easy to see how much effort was put into making those scenes special. The head writer proceeded to heap praise on Sebastian Stan’s stellar performance, stressing how impressed he was with the actor’s on-screen representation of Bucky’s 106-year-old life.
Talking about the inclusion of the Flag-smashers as the opposition group, he stressed that in the eyes of a world recovering from The Blip, these groups were responding to default survival instincts rather than being led by power-hungry agendas. We have seen the immigrant theme running along more clearly now.
Spellman further explained that the 6-week series would delve deeper into these sensitive topics relevant in today’s world. While there’s sure to be some thrilling action, it’s impressive to note that in the mixture of action and witty lines and expensive CGI, Marvel intends to explore pivotal discussions around diversity, race and nationalism.