The premiere episode of Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier continued to flesh out the MCU in compellingly odd ways -- like apparently, the U.S. government has overlooked Bucky's long history of murder and war crimes in exchange for some therapy sessions? And the Avengers don't get paid? And their income is dependent on the "goodwill" of the people? Does that mean that while Tony Stark was partying in his mansion, the rest of his superheroic teammates had to organize GoFundMe pages to make ends meet?




The show also re-introduced a running theme that Marvel Studios briefly abandoned to focus on cosmic genocide: bonkers conspiracy theories. As we've argued before, these movies tend to import conspiracy theories from the real world -- but in the MCU, they're all shown to be completely true. For example, there is a secretive cabal controlling the government, and we even find out that a Bin Laden-like terrorist was really an out-of-work actor conspiring with the Vice President of the United States.

The first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is, not very subtly, titled "New World Order," a reference to the pervasive conspiracy theory alleging that a shadow government is plotting a totalitarian globalist takeover. We also learn that the newest villains in town are the "Flag-Smashers," a secret society that wants a "world that's unified without borders." While they are seemingly named after the Captain America villain Flag-Smasher, who was similarly bent on destroying the foundations of nationalism, this all seems straight out of a YouTube video your crackpot uncle shared on Facebook.


So again, Marvel seems to be taking real-world paranoid fantasies and crafting a story where those fears are totally validated -- which has worked out for them in the past. Of course, after WandaVision, we can't be entirely sure that next week's episode won't find Bucky and Sam re-enacting an old episode of Perfect Strangers.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Marvel Studios

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