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What did TNIAAM’s comics wing think of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

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“Another Marvel show?” Yes...

Hollywood Exteriors And Landmarks - 2021 Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Sure, there are two separate Syracuse Orange lacrosse seasons going on right now, and we talk plenty about them on this site. But of course, we have other interests as well. At least one of which, you’re pretty aware of by now.

Marvel’s second Disney+ show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, wrapped up over the weekend. And TNIAAM’s Marvel wing has been discussing it at length since Friday night. Perhaps you have too. And if not, this is your place to do that.

SPOILERS AHEAD, obviously, if you have plans to watch the finale (or the whole show) and haven’t yet. There’s also a decent amount of speculation around what’s next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe too, for those that are trying to avoid that talk as well.

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John: Wow. Definitely a ton of cliffhangers.

Christian: Loved the show though.

John: Oh yeah. First episode crawled but after that, really loved what they did with this.

Christian: Anthony Mackie’s gonna be a good leader for Phase 4 big movies.

John: 100% - hence what sounded like a reworked Avengers theme (ed. note: was actually a bit of a reworked Captain America theme).

Christian: I’m very interested to see how Sharon Carter’s character plays out. I’m not the comic fan you guys are so I don’t know much of the Power Broker backstory but this could get interesting.

Steve: To my knowledge that’s all off the rails.

Andy: I told Steve this, but thought it was a nice touch that the steps Sharon walked out of for her hearing were the same ones that in the comics, she shoots Captain America on in the Death of Captain America story, which to me is a nod that she is full evil now.

Also went back and read Sam Wilson’s “Captain America” (2015). I really hope they don’t steal too much for this next movie because man, Nick Spencer’s run is rough and just feels like he’s buying time for the Secret Empire event.

In the book, the social justice warriors bit is clearly trying to be “whitesploitation” to mirror what Sam went through (blaxploitation in the comics), but it’s done so poorly.

Kevin: I thought the series was well-written in the sense of the “bad guys” having enough shades of gray to make them more compelling. Didn’t realize Batroc was Georges St. Pierre until I heard him on LeBatard talking about it

John: Yeah. They took inspiration from Killmonger and I know they had his quote from the end of Black Panther around the set to emphasize “bad guy with a point.”

I think Karli Morgenthau had a point, but she was also was never built out enough for us to care about it when delivered from her. Sam does the lifting there

Christian: The virus rewrite probably would have helped the Flag Smashers storyline better.

Andy: Oh, 100%. And to that end, Marvel can prob pull off a pandemic storyline with little pushback. I am more worried about Disney stepping in and saying “do not touch this” and how more contemporary story telling will be watered down. They clearly were okay with race because that’s been deemed okay to explore.

Karli’s death hurt, but more so because of Sharon than Karli instead of being the double punch they wanted.

Steve: For what they were working with on late rewrites and cut time producing I would say they nailed it again. Definitely 2/2 on the TV series so far and I can’t imagine Loki (out in June) isn’t a W as well.

Also, what they can do with the visuals on Sam’s wings now makes me excited for Warren Worthington making an appearance sometime.

Christian: It’s clear that these first two series were more focused on character building, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s more depth to Wanda’s and Sam’s character now which will make future movies with them more compelling

Kinda disappointed that more wasn’t done with Bucky’s character. It seems like he’s back in the shadow of the shield, which relegates him to sidekick again. I think there’s more that can be done with him.

Steve: Yeah, I’d assume they push him forward at some point. Seemed like a lot of this arc was cleaning him up behind the scenes and getting him off the “avenging the Winter Soldier” vibe.

Andy: I feel like a Sharon vs Buck confrontation could be coming.

Also on the music stuff, I totally missed the Avengers/Cap Falcon mashup when he comes in, what a great nod. Also, John Walker’s theme in the final episode is Cap’s when he gives into fighting Tony in Civil War. Another great thematic nod.

Christian: Yeah they did some great score stuff.

Andy: I will say that Alan Silvestri has the all time trump cards for his scores of Cap, Avengers, Infinity War, and Endgame, but Henry Jackman’s Winter Soldier/Civil War/TFATWS trio bangs.

John: I agree, Christian, they definitely left a lot unsaid with Bucky and that’s going to be the delicate balance going forward since there will always be more shows now. These first two shows were basically origin stories after avoiding them on first pass with these characters. It’ll be more interesting to see what they do with blank canvases

So where does this rank for everyone? I think despite the slow start and questionable Sam costume, I’ve got this somewhere in the 10-14 range ranking wise. I though it was a great continuation of the already great Cap trilogy, and I’d argue a better show than WandaVision by the end.

Andy: Yeah, I’m not sure I can rank it within MCU fairly because I’ve always wanted Sam Wilson Cap from the first intro with the Mackie casting. So there’s a lot of bias for me.

I liked the shows themes more than WandaVision and think it told a better story in terms of being a hero. That said, WandaVision had a tighter construction, better execution, and for all its misdirects, felt somehow more clear than this show at times. So I think it’s definitely top half, but somehow probably the weakest Cap story.

Kevin: I felt WandaVision was more complete than this, which makes sense if it was a one-off. I do think WandaVision was better for casual/non-Marvel fans because it had the old TV homage going on, but this was a more entertaining watch

John: Yeah. Was talking to my wife about the order of things last night and how the shuffle (Ed. Note: COVID issues shuffled the order from Black Widow-TFATWS-WandaVision-Loki to WandaVision-TFATWS-Loki-Black Widow) was potentially an advantage.

Think casual fans may have been less excited about a straight-forward Marvel “movie” first and more confused by Wandavision if it happened after this.

Kevin: Makes sense. I do think Loki will be interesting to both groups so I’m curious to see how my family reacts to it

John: Yeah. That show’s gonna be incredibly weird but in a less mysterious way. Adding Owen Wilson makes it more accessible to casual folks, I think. I’m excited for it. Feel like they should’ve tried to put that into the May timeframe once they knew Black Widow was moving.

Andy: Yeah, on that Loki note, it looks like the only show so far that doesn’t revolve around two established characters and moving their stories forward. While Owen Wilson’s character is def going to be co-starring, I think it will have the ability to lightly touch his character while focusing far more on Loki. These first two shows have done that with Vision and Bucky, to the mixed results.

John: Fair. Tho do think people are far more interested in the four main leads (Vision, Wanda, Sam, Bucky) of the first two shows than they were before, which is ultimately what Marvel wanted.

Andy: Totally. And I’m intrigued to see how those characters are utilized. We know Wanda needed to become the Scarlet Witch for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Sam needed to become Captain America for the future Avengers movies. But to Christian’s earlier point, what does that mean for Bucky or Vision? We know Monica Rambeau will explore the falling out with Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel 2, but nothing announced seems like it fits Bucky or Vision as a logical next step.

John: I still think West Coast Avengers and Thunderbolts become vehicles for characters they don’t know what to do with. Admittedly that’s not the best solution but it is A solution.

Think they need to basically come up with something from scratch for Bucky if they want to tell a story about him without Sam. That’s tough

Christian: That’s an area where Loki will probably have more success than these first two shows. Loki is already an established character (even if it’s not the same one from the last few movies) and I doubt Owen Wilson is an MCU character that is going to stick around and has the same weight that Bucky and Vision do.

Kevin: I’d be down for a Bucky and Dora Milaje series.

John: Maybe that’s where he slots in, Since they’re doing a Wakanda series. Just don’t know if you want to taint that a bit by putting a “white savior” character into an African nation where we’re supposed to explore who those Wakandan characters are more.

And Christian, I think you’re right there unless they intro someone like Lady Loki or Kid Loki.

Christian: I like the idea of Bucky potentially going into the “White Wolf” Character and maybe even getting a vibranium suit because of his connection to Wakanda, even though he has the arm already.

John: Would need a lot of new material since the White Wolf character is complicated in the comics and not sure they want to go down the white imperialist path his arc does. (Also requires a reverse turn they can’t really do with him)

Andy: Well what they could do is make Bucky an “Agent of Wakanda” like the newer comic series did. He’s now good, but uses his espionage skills to assist the War Dogs in ways they can’t and they use the show to explore the ways Black and white people move through society, and Bucky becomes the uncomfortable yet open viewer stand in.

Thunderbolts and/or Dark Avengers seems far too obvious as a concept, but I have no idea what kind of conflict will drive them besides being “Suicide Squad for Marvel.” Do think Sharon Carter is now going to be the antagonist for Armor Wars, and if not the primary antagonist, then the catalyst.

John: Completely agree. Also really hope we get Sam Rockwell back as Justin Hammer for that.

Andy: I mean, Sharon and Hammer as a dynamic is something I would adore, she would literally want to knock him out every scene.

John: She definitely needs a character like him to play off since Rhodey will be on the opposing side and is also more of a straight man.

I guess the big question for everyone now, to wrap this up: Did the show succeed? Use whatever metric for success you want there.

Kevin: To me, yes, it succeeded. It was an enjoyable television series and it has me wondering where the characters go from here- either in a second season or in other MCU properties.

Andy: 100% success. The biggest question facing post-Endgame MCU will continue to be if new, lower-tier characters can replicate the same fan love that Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor created in Phase 1. This show proved you can lean in on the more controversial comic stories that turned those characters into legacy titles, and allow a new character to inhabit the role.

We saw a former supporting character who was overcast (always forget Mackie is part of Hurt Locker) and when given the chance, has the ability to lead a grounded story and become a leading character. The fact that they leaned into the racial aspect of “Black Captain America” that was so wildly hated when done in comics gives me a ton of hope in the future stories the MCU pursues.

John: I agree with that. I think they did a great job honoring the legacy of Captain America and the lore around the character, while still providing critical analysis of the legacy, imagery and country — especially the problems that arise for a Black man as he tries to balance that legacy with this country’s shortcomings toward Black people.

Where I think the show doesn’t succeed is in terms of creating any real right or wrong. They used Killmonger as the “villain with a point” example, but Killmonger dies at the end, proving his way was not the way to go about things, even if what he wanted had merit.

Here, Karli dies but what she wanted accomplished is taken up by Sam successfully, after she used violence to make her point. John Walker also gets to just walk away from his own misdeeds as well. Sharon gets a pass by way of circumstances not story

Andy: It gives me far more hope for Armor Wars, where the Riri Williams Iron Man handoff is going to be contentious. I’m sure part of the story will be similar to this show: which character that has carried the mantle in the comics will carry the mantle in the MCU, but, Riri as a Black female character has always had unnecessary vitriol thrown her way.

John, to your point, the MCU villain problem is back!

John: Just a different villain problem! I get why they want most villains in shades of gray, but they do need consequences for bad deeds otherwise what’s the point of the superhero genre?

Andy: Yup. Need some badder bad guys

John: Yeah they got part of what made Killmonger a good villain, but not all of it here. And would bet Black Panther 2 probably walks past his villainy and creates this issue for his character as well.

Just think we wound up with some great phase 2/3 villains (Zemo, Thanos, Killmonger, Mysterio, Vulture) and now they’re trying to copy that aesthetic without realizing that they were all still seen as legit villains.

Christian: The show definitely succeeded. It seems like the main goal was to firmly establish Mackie as a worthy successor to Chris Evans, and he proved that throughout the series. The only issue I had with this was, like you guys said, the villain problem.

The Flag Smashers would’ve been probably better if the original virus storyline was implemented, but they were just ok here. Sharon as the Power Broker going forward, while a fun twist, doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of juice behind the character to create an interesting villain also. It’s tough because I think some people are gonna want to compare this to the movies, but as a TV series, I think it was fantastic and something that Marvel/Disney can easily use to build future shows.

Steve: As the last to the party there’s not a ton for me to add to what you all brought up, but I thought in general the series nailed it.

In a way it felt as a bit of set up for the rest of Phase 4 which we knew it was going to be, but it did it while adding a lot to the characters of Sam and Bucky, as well as the entire Truth/Isiah Bradley arc. Even compared to the movies, it held up. The action was some of the best choreographed Ive seen in the MCU.

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