The Falcon and The Winter Soldier spoilers ahead.
I’m not a comic book fan, but I love the movies. Whether it is Marvel, DC or the X-Men movies from Fox studios, I love the ideas of superheroes and villains. I love that many of the films, like the comic books before them, can deliberately and sometimes subtly provide a comment on what our real lives are like.
Best MCU Movie?
My favourite MCU movie is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As many of my other articles here on Reel Anarchy are about James Bond, spies, conspiracy movies and Mission Impossible, then that is probably clear to see. I found the very contemporary nature of the second Captain America movie very engaging – because it was about the “real” world. As a fan, I find the more mystical or alien superhero movies less engaging – I can still like them, but for me, the superhero tales connect when they are about the issues that surround me every day.
The trailer for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier leaned too heavily towards the buddy-cop genre but it has been a delight to watch the series develop to be a contemporary action thriller, with shades of espionage. Surprising, for I had begun to think that Marvel, and Disney, weren’t permitting their stories, or their audience, to grow up.
The treatment of Bucky’s haunted memories of his time as The Winter Soldier (the earlier scenes with his therapist were brilliant) and the flashback showing how the Wakandans removed decades of Hydra programming are emotional and a welcome addition to Bucky’s character development.
Watching Sam trying to connect with Karli and understand her has deliberate parallels with Steve Rogers’ undiminished quest to rescue Bucky, even when Bucky himself didn’t want it.
Don’t get me wrong though – we watch these films and series because we love the superheroes, we love the stories, the characters, the comic books. They are brilliant escapism, which can thrill us and make us smile and even punch the air at times. I doubt if anyone wants a series that really explores the PTSD endured by ex-military to the exclusion of all the other thrills.
No one wants a superhero story that’s so dark, right? Unless of course if we think of the large section of DC fans who connected with what Zack Snyder and others were trying to do with the “DCEU”, with Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The DC films work because the superhumans are having to deal with human issues – just like we all are, right?
Until now, most MCU films are about the adventure, thrills and jokes. But only with the events of Infinity War and Endgame did those films really grow up.
Give me a Snap-Blip TV Series
The chaos seen in the hospital when Monica Rambeau reappeared after the Blip were brief, but hinted at a world gone wrong. The loss of half the global population from the Snap in Infinity War is barely felt, except perhaps when we see the jaded Natasha Romanoff in charge of the remaining Avengers, barely holding it together at the start of Endgame (and isn’t that a story-rich 5-year period that Marvel should really explore in a future series?)
Gray and Red
Now we have Sam trying to use his counselling skills on a terrorist/freedom fighter and Bucky dealing with the repercussion of his actions. Even the new Captain America is struggling in this murky world of spies and deception where everything is in shades of gray (and the fresh smear of red on his shield). It’s almost like the station scene at the end of Man of Steel when Superman grabbed Zod and— oh, never mind.
Is that too dark for some of the viewers? Possibly. But look at it this way, the twelve-year olds who first fell in love with the Marvel movies in 2011 are now in their early twenties. They’ve grown up. Surely their superhero movies and shows should grow too?
That doesn’t mean that every Marvel property should get too serious – but as the fans mature, so should at least some of the product.
Issues AND Thrills
So far The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is treading the line between issues and thrills with some skill. Unlike WandaVision which had the potential for exploring Wanda’s grief, but instead lost its way in a slavishly impressive display of sitcom homages, this new series looks like Marvel is growing up. But still kicking ass.
Just like us all: Growing up, but still kicking ass.
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