The finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier featured some impressive action, dramatic story twists, but sadly no further scenes of Baron Zemo doing his “two glasses of wine into your ex’s wedding” dance. The show asked a lot of big questions about structural racism in America and the evils of jingoism but ultimately ended with a return to a status quo of sorts. Yes, the new Captain America is Black, which is huge, but this is a story that actively asked the question: Should there even be a Captain America? And in the end, our heroes actually teamed up with juiced-up imperialist John Walker to battle the revolutionary antagonist, Karli Morgenthau -- who eventually became surprisingly murder-crazed, as if the show was working extra hard to have us all overlook the fact that she was ultimately right.
Karli was fighting against the Global Repatriation Council, who were straight-up deporting and ghettoizing vast swaths of people. Karli died, but Sam honored her fight by giving the GRC a … stern talking to. Sure, that should do it.
This is additionally frustrating because Karli’s “one world” anti-nationalist rhetoric has become glaringly relevant in this our non-Marvel, non-cinematic universe as vaccine nationalism threatens the world in a very potent way. So-called “developed” countries are hoarding vaccines, and pharmaceutical companies refuse to waive their intellectual property monopolies over effective vaccines, while much of the rest of the world continues to suffer, leading to catastrophic emergencies in countries such as India. Some countries could be waiting years for vaccines -- which is inherently awful but could also “backfire,” leading to more viral mutations that will ultimately undo those initial inoculation efforts.
And while Karli’s ethos continues to be vindicated in real life, we’re asked to accept an ending in which Sam’s West Wing-esque lecture somehow solves this global refugee crisis. Really? Part of the problem is that these Disney+ shows ultimately feel like stop-gaps between movies. And this show, for all of its admirable moral and political inquisitiveness, was really just a bridge to the recently announced fourth Captain America movie -- not to mention an overture to a slew of collectible merchandise and a new Sam Wilson Captain America character at Disneyland. So maybe the real solution to all of these destructive government policies is just to buy more crap while waiting for Loki to come out.
Top Image: Marvel Studios