So, we’ve been watching Falcon and Winter Soldier, because of course we have. We weren’t sure if we were going to do a show on it. We’re not really a recap kind of show. On the other hand, we’ve sort of fallen into a pattern of doing … not so much recaps… well, more just… the thing we do. Critical analysis of the series as a whole. We’ve done it for WandaVision, Game of Thrones, Watchmen and The Good Place. So of course we’re going to do it for Falcon and Winter Soldier. It’s more a question of what exactly we’re going to talk about.
There’s a few things going on in mind with this one;having seen five of the six episodes, most of my thoughts more or less separated into tow categories: structural and cultural.
The structural issues are mostly about how Marvel Studios “does storytelling”. Way back when we did our analysis shows on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, we talked about how the MCU films weren’t really “movies” per se. Or they didn’t follow movie structure. It’s sort of better to think of them as episodes of a very expensive TV show. The MCU is structured like an epic series of novels. I’m reminded of L Frank Baum’s Oz series which I loved as a kid. You could read them individually… maybe even skip a couple… but they’re an interlocking narrative and there’s an assumption that you’re generally following along.
But now they’ve moved on to making ACTUAL TV shows that interlock with the narrative as well. WandaVision was in many ways more successful here. They embraced their medium and did something new with it. It was doing something crazy innovative with its own internal structure. Falcon and Winter Soldier is structured more like a normal movie. A six hour movie… split into chunks so that no one wants to kill themselves. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the people who are trying to recap it every week. I do think there’s a conversation in there about how the narrative has to serve both itself as a TV show and the larger meta-show that is “the MCU.” Part of me thinks this could have stood an extra episode or two.
Perhaps more interesting to me is the cultural aspect of the show. It really is trying to do something with its blackness. In fact, I’d argue that it is the blackest project the MCU has done thus far, INCLUDING Black Panther. Or at the very least it is the most indicative of the African American experience we associate with blackness. One of my favorite parts of it has been how heavily it has borrowed from Truth: Red, White, and Black (though mostly through backstory conversation rather than actually showing it, which I would have loved). This week’s episode in particular did a lot of the work that went into the blog I wrote a few years back (and did a presentation for NeMLA) about NOT wanting Sam to be Captain America because doing so delegitimizes the legacy of the Falcon. It dealt with my issues and presented a world where I am excited to see what happens in this final episode.
Furthermore, I like how it has dealt with issues of systemic racism that affect Sam outside of the specialized allegorical effects associated with being a superhero. It’s also done a great job of tying that to intersectional issues of class and nationalism. I don’t know who they thought they were making this show for, but it’s clearly for me. I am very much looking forward to next week’s finale.
So yeah. we’re going to talk about all of that. But we want to know what you’re thinking about as well. So let us know in the comments what your thoughts are about the show and what you’d like us to discuss. What were your biggest thoughts and notes? Who should we get to sit in on this episode with us?