Will THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Become Too Politically Correct to Enjoy?
By Movieguide® Staff
Note: The following is a portion of our overview review of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. For the full review, click here.
OVERVIEW REVIEW: THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER series on Disney+ finds Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, turning down the chance to become the new Captain America and instead teaming up with Captain America’s friend, Bucky Barnes, to deal with a rogue group of super soldiers trying to create a global resistance to the world’s system of nation states. The first three episodes of this six-part miniseries have their exciting, humorous moments, but there’s some foul language in each episode, lots of action violence, and the allegiances and ethics of the various groups in the first three episodes are occasionally a bit murky and confusing.
In the first episode, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon is sent on a mission to stop a criminal organization, the LAF, from kidnapping a military liaison in North Africa. After rescuing the man in a spectacular action sequence, Sam learns from the military intelligence officer on the ground, Torres, about a new group called the Flag Smashers that wants to get rid of all national borders. Sam asks Torres to keep an eye on them for him.
Back home, Sam decides to donate Captain America’s shield to the Smithsonian Museum. However, the U.S. government wants a new Captain America, so they deem a three-time Medal of Honor winner, John Walker, as Captain America and give hm a new vibranium shield.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes, the childhood friend of Steve Rogers, the first Captain Americåça, is having trouble adjusting to civilian life after 70 years of being a brainwashed assassin for the neo-fascist Hydra wing of the Soviet Union. He talks to his court-appointed therapist, who’s got him on a 12-step recovery program of making amends to the people he wronged. Among those people is an elderly Japanese man whose son he killed when the son witnessed one of the assassinations he was made to do. However, Bucky doesn’t tell the man that he was the one who killed his son.
While Bucky is doing this, Sam goes home to his sister in Louisiana, where they try to get a loan to keep their dead father’s fishing boat business afloat. However, the loan administrator denies them a loan, telling them things have tightened up since half the population returned after being gone for five years.
Torres contacts Sam and shows him a video he took of some Flag Smashers in Switzerland who robbed a bank. The leader of the group wore a mask but was very strong and flung Torres abut 15 feet. “I thought you were going to monitor them online,” Sam says. “Sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty,” Torres replies. It’s at that moment that Sam learns of the new Captain America.
In the second episode, Sam and Bucky learn that the leader of the Flag Smashers group is a young woman named Karli Morganthau. They also learn that she and her cohorts are actually super soldiers, people who got the same serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. They and the new Captain America’s team engage in a fight with the Flag Smashers trying to stop Karli from stealing some vaccines, but they’re no match for the super soldiers.
Also, Bucky introduces Sam to Isaiah, a black super soldier, who fought with Bucky during the Korean War when Bucky was being manipulated by Hydra. However, Isaiah wants nothing to do with them. The second episode ends with some henchman from a mysterious person called the Power Broker failing to capture Karli and her gang.
In the third episode, Bucky breaks their old nemesis, Baron Zemo, out of prison, because Zemo might know how to find the people who produced the super soldier serum for Karli and her gang. Zemo was the villain in the movie CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. In that movie, Zemo tried to get revenge against the Avengers because their battle with Ultron had destroyed Zemo’s country of Sokovia and killed his family. Zemo’s not a fan of the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into a superhero.
Baron Zemo leads Sam and Bucky to a rogue island country in Indonesia called Madripoor. The whole island is a criminal enterprise, and the Power Broker is the top dog. They learn from a top female criminal that the Power Broker hired a former Hydra scientist to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America and Bucky’s super powers. Their cover is blown, however, when Sam’s sister calls Sam on his cellphone. They barely escape a gunfight, and a bounty is placed on their head for killing the lady criminal. A clue leads them to the scientist, who tells them he created 20 vials of serum. He also tells them that Karli and her Flag Smashers group stole all 20 of the vials, and that’s why the Power Broker and his men are also after the Flag Smashers.
The first three episodes of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER have their exciting, humorous moments. However, the first episode is rather slow after the slambang action sequence where The Falcon rescues the military liaison. The second episode is the better episode because it has humorous moments, exciting moments and dramatic moments. The third episode is a little more confusing, with character motivations becoming too murky. For example, Karli and her Flag Smashers group begin to seem more sympathetic, because they’re helping people who’ve become dislodged because of the disappearance, then reappearance of half the world’s population. However, after stealing some medical and food supplies in a government building, Karli blows up the building with government people still in it because they were dragging their feet on distributing the supplies in the building. At the same time, the new Captain America is starting to have a darker side to his character, and Sam and Bucky are still working with Baron Zemo, even after he kills the super soldier serum scientist in cold blood.
Thus, the world being presented in THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER so far is edgy and chaotic. In fact, at one point in the first episode, Sam talks to Iron Man’s friend, Colonel Rhodes, who says they now live in a “broken world.” Sam contends the world needs a “new kind of hero” to meet new challenges. It’s becoming clear from the first three episodes that ideas of good versus evil and right versus wrong are not quite so clearcut as they were in the original Captain America movies. It’s unclear, however, how this will shake out in the second half of this season’s episodes. Hopefully, the series won’t become too politically correct, although there are some light elements that seem pointed in that direction and that seem to contain a possible critique of capitalism. That said, the program has some nice character development, especially in the changing friendship between Sam and Bucky.
There’s plenty of action violence, including gunfights and fisticuffs, in the first three episodes of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Also, each episode has some foul language in it. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.