Be aware: THIS HAS SPOILERS!
I haven’t written a full formal review on this show since episode 2, and now that the show has fully fleshed itself out after 6 episodes, I wanted to look back on it as a whole- did my worst fears from my past reviews come true? Did Marvel actually surprise me in a positive way? Was it worth these 6 episodes?
This show has had a lot of ups and downs for me. Not the biggest ups or the biggest downs- but lots of them nevertheless. If you remember my review of episode 2 specifically, there were multiple criticisms/concerns I had that started from that point on. Going over them individually, I wanted to see if my fears came true, if they came true but not to the extent I most feared, or if they were completely alleviated by the last episode.
The Flag Smashers: villains or victims with the right intentions, but morally wrong actions
In my last review, I wrote about how victims with the right intentions are often still written as
villains- not because they are completely wrong or evil or terrible, but simply because they go too far and hurt innocents- they compromise their moral compass for their cause. I was deeply afraid of Marvel doing this with this group of people who, while they shouldn’t be killing innocents, are 100% right that the rich and powerful have screwed them and so many others over. While they need to be held accountable for their actions in terms of recognizing that it’s still wrong to kill innocents regardless of your cause, their message still MUST be heard. Their message is STILL important. Sam’s speech towards the end of the episode after Karli was killed did a fantastic job of solidifying that for me. While Marvel can’t turn around and say “oh yeah, f*ck those rich people, heroes definitely can help kill them!”, Marvel did do something I didn’t expect- they took the boldest side they could with the Flag Smashers and their cause, allowing Sam to slam government officials for not doing more and making a speech that is very much like something Steve would have said himself- except as much as I love Steve (he’s one of my all-time favorites), he isn’t a Black man, and everything Sam said about being a Black man as Captain America was on point too. Steve would’ve been PROUD of Sam- not that Sam would need Steve’s approval, but it’s just nice to know, ya know? This isn’t the most groundbreaking thing I’ve ever seen, but this is a solid step for Marvel and superhero film/television content in general and I’m quite pleased how they handled the Flagsmashers and how they were never villains- they were everyday people that were hurting and simply crying for help, and it got too far because no one was listening. (That said, me using the past tense does NOT mean the Flag Smashers are gone, as they made clear at the end of the episode)
Political/Social Commentary- Does it ever hit the mark?
I noted in my last review that there were a few moments that strived to make some fairly strong political/social commentary, but they missed the mark for me- like when cops tried to arrest Sam in the street but then end up arresting Bucky instead, once they knew who they both were. For me, the strongest political/social commentary in this series that worked came from Sam’s own speeches discussing why he chose to become Captain America and the scenes between Sam/Isaiah. The dialogue of Sam explaining why he’s going to continue to be Captain America from now on, even though he knows he will face hate and discrimination for it, was so well written and thought out and blew me out of the water. Was it the best dialogue I’ve ever heard on race? No- but it was far more than I ever thought I’d get out of Marvel- and it’s MORE than the bare minimum. It was solid. It was a glorious moment that truly made me go “you know what? Sam IS the perfect Captain America”. Furthermore, the
ending they gave with Isaiah was also a small joy- not a justice, but a small joy. It was nice to see that even though Isaiah still isn’t 100% comfortable with Sam being Captain America that he still appreciates why he’s doing it; he appreciates and supports that Sam still wants to fight for them. I nearly choked up when I saw Sam take Isaiah and Eli to the museum and show them that Isaiah is now shown there so that “they will never forget what you did for this country”. Like… that is by no means justice for all that Isaiah went through, but it was such a nice gesture that Sam went out of his way to do that. That he made Isaiah’s story THAT important. He’s the first person, outside of family presumably, to truly make Isaiah believe his story is important. That blew me away and was a great moment. To me, Marvel didn’t do the most overall groundbreaking work with its political/social commentary on this show, but it did a good job breaking ground on political/social commentary in the MCU. Other movies in the MCU have made political/social commentary, but this was the first time it was so consistently on the nose, and I truly appreciated it.
Sam letting his walls down and being himself, Bucky and Sam finding a middle ground
When I talked about episode 2 of FATWS, I talked about how Sam gave off this “not giving a f*ck” attitude at times and how it was clearly a facade as he needed to- as they say in Star Wars- search his feelings and realize his truth. The thing is, he actually did that! He figured out what he CAN do, what he WANTS to do, and what he NEEDS to do. He became Captain America not because Bucky told him to, or Isaiah Bradley said he shouldn’t- he became Captain America because he decided it was right for him and it was the way he could participate in the constant battle for justice. I also really loved the scene where Bucky apologized to Sam for not acknowledging his side as a Black man and Sam responded well to that. They finally were able to talk feelings and solidify their friendship (whether or not they’ll admit to calling their relationship that, heh).
Overall, Sam came all the way around for me and he IS Captain America.
I’m not familiar with his story in the comics, full disclosure, but I like how they made him a full character- making him seem like a villain at first, then showing us that he is a human with morals but incredibly flawed (who isn’t?), and then setting him up as a villain who thinks he is an anti-hero. He thinks he is still doing good but definitely won’t be doing all good, ya know? Either way, Marvel did a good job writing him as a more well-rounded character than just one side or the other, and I’m glad they didn’t give him a complete redemption story. But, guess what? I still hate the character because he’s a jerk, oops.
Why is no one talking about this part??? SHARON CARTER???
Maybe it’s because she was a minor character that people didn’t care for in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but why is no one talking about how everyone got hype for Zemo to be the villain- but the real villain this entire series was SHARON CARTER?? SHE was the one pulling all the strings and sh*t?? Again, not that Zemo isn’t a villain, he is and was in this series, but he was never the one anyone needed to be worried about. Ms. (I’m sorry, now AGENT again) Sharon Carter is as calculative and dangerous as her great-aunt Agent Peggy
Carter, but now lacks the great moral compass we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As someone who wanted to root for Sharon Carter, I’m slightly confused how we went from her having a strong moral compass in her original appearance to this hardened, selfish, power-hungry character. I get that she went through terrible things and had to learn how to survive- but man it’s a hard right turn in her characterization to adjust to. It’s also hard because now I fear people that didn’t like her before will now use this as more of an excuse to hate her- “oh she was lame in her original appearance and now she’s an evil b*tch”. Like… no. BUT. BUT! I LOVE this as a twist. I love how much this caught me off guard and I love that she will be a much more interesting villain. If you’ve read some comics with her as I have, then you might feel as both betrayed and excited about this development as I do. I’m very intrigued to see how this will play out in what was just announced- Captain America 4!! Let’s goooo!! Oh well, guess I'm rooting for her anyway, I can root for the heroes AND the villains at the same time, right?
I gotta say, this show really upped its game as it went on. It wasn’t 100% groundbreaking, and parts of it were predictable, but there were also a few nice surprises and plenty of great steps that Marvel has needed to take in the MCU for a while now. I appreciate that Marvel was willing to start exploring the grey areas in the MCU by combing the "real world" and the "superhero world". I hope to see more of this in the future. It’s a solid watch and another win for Marvel!
(P.S.- I know I didn't talk too much about Bucky in this review- don't worry, I love Bucky, but I personally feel his arc was pretty self-explanatory)
Your Friendly Neighborhood Bi gives CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE WINTER SOLDIER:
3.5 out of 5 finger guns
(because I’m bi)
You can find Your Friendly Neighborhood Bi, Lauren, on Twitter: