What’s up squad, FrostyPhenix here! So I initially wasn’t going to write about this topic but my girlfriend and I were reflecting on a question she asked me, “do you think Falcon and the Winter Soldier did a good job telling the story of black people?”. After thinking and talking about it with her, I will add my two cents to the internet about it. The answer is yes, by the way and here is how.
SPOILERS AHEAD!! IF YOU HAVE NOT SAT AND WATCHED THIS SERIOUS, STOP HERE< GO WATCH IT AND THEN COME BACK!!
Point 1: Sam Wilson taking on the position with reluctance and pride
With the series starting out with Sam’s obvious imposter syndrome, as an avid viewer of superhero shows and sprinkles of comic book knowledge, it’s the obvious “hero grows to accept their role” troupe. However, what Marvel has seemed to do fairly well (not everything is gold) is retell comic book scenarios on the big and small screen to acceptable viewer standards and delight. Sam’s journey to being Captain America is rooted in Steve Rogers already accepting him in the role but Sam not feeling like he earned it. After seeing John Walker royally screw up not only the role of Captain America and representing their country but also staining his friend’s shield with innocent blood. It all could have been prevented had Sam just taken the shield in the first place but I digress. Not only does Sam decide to finally step up and take on Steve’s role as America’s Representative, he has a conversation with Isaiah Bradley, the first TRUE Captain America (by experiment and bravery standards. Bradley is not exactly optimistic about a “Black Captain America” after what happened to him and his teammates all those years ago, leading to his own self exile in the country he begrudgingly calls home. Sam however takes the road we all knew he would, by defying those that wish him to not have the shield and be their Captain America, being a Black Man representing america despite its many flaws. Sam decides to face any possible threats (home or abroad) will courage while still being aware that he is indeed a BLACK MAN.
Point 2: Isaiah Bradley Backstory and generational trauma (talking about it)
Isaiah Bradley...I will have to be honest, I only found out about Isaiah a few years ago as I dove into the Blerdy Community I proudly represent in my posts and content. First appearing in the comic “Truth: Red, White & Black #1 In January of 2003, Isaiah has become not only a symbol in the comics lore African American Community but a symbol in the real world Blerd Community as well. From what he revealed to us in the show, his back story is just about along the same lines as the comic except Bradley was put in prison for thirty years. In that time of imprisonment, Bradley was experimented on as the scientists seeked to perfect the super soldier serum and find out why Bradley was able to take to it so well. After a nurse assisted in forging a false death certificate for Bradley, he fled to Maryland where he was living out his days raising his grandson, Eli. The trauma I mention in this section’s title is to Bradley's past experiences dealing with America and it’s politics. Bradley tearfully shared his experiences with Sam, following it up with his beliefs from these traumatic experiences, feeling like a true generational exchange for people of color watching and understanding the weight of their exchange. Of Course Bradley wouldn’t think that not only would a black man not be able to be Captain America but that he also shouldn’t want to be because of the history African Americans have with America as a whole. He is correct in his beliefs but this truth is also bringing him sadness and closed his eyes to the possible changes that a black man in that suit and title could bring. It is definitely a healing moment towards the end of the final episode of the show where Sam arranged for the Smithsonian Museum to update the Captain America exhibit to display a memorial plaque detailing Bradley’s past history in service to the United States, along with a statue of the veteran hero. When Bradley hugged Sam for making that possible...that is an example of generational healing from the work of our ancestors. I’m not crying...you’re crying...moving on.
Point 3: Conversation on what it looked like being a black person. representing America
At subtle moments throughout the show, there are jabs thrown at Sam such as “oh...you're that guy. Black Falcon, right?” These moments occur just enough to be funny and not overstate that Sam is indeed a Black man with seemingly “special privileges”. There are several nods to the struggle of Black Men and Families in America, such as Sam and his sister Sarah having an issue with taking out a loan from the bank but the bank eventually realizing that Sam is Falcon and jests that he thought the Avengers were on Tony Stark’s payroll. Another momentary reminder of being black in America is how fast the police show up to arrest Sam as he and Bucky have a heated exchange in the street after leaving Isaiah Bradley’s house. Once the police were able to recognize Sam was Falcon, they backed off and apologized profusely. So the only way a black man can get out of an exchange with police is if he is a superhero that is on gov’t payroll and has assisted in saving the world on a handful of occasions at that point in time? Great...
While I am touching on these points, they are but parts of the overall narrative, along with accepting one’s past, the haves versus the have nots, imposter syndrome and other takeaways from the show. This show definitely delivered in it’s plot and told it smoothly. If you read this without seeing the show, shame on you...go experience it yourself though. “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" is streaming now on Disney Plus. This has been Frosty Phenix, catch me across the web @frostyphenix and slide into our DM’s and follow us @phucaname. Until the next article or podcast or LIVE Video Conference, peace.