The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been building up to this moment since the show started, the confrontation between the Flag Smashers and Sam Wilson, Sam taking on the mantle of Captain America, and more. And the finale handles most of these moments quite well…emphasis on most.
The show spent the first few episodes humanizing the Flag Smashers, establishing that their goals are pure but they just like murder a little too much. It’s a bit disappointing in truth, but the show ends with the Flag Smashers still being deemed the villains even though they aren’t…technically wrong either? It’s a very sanitized MCU approach here, and seeing Karli die is just disappointing, especially considering her character is like 19.
The other most disappointing aspect of this finale is the reveal of who the Power Broker is — the reveal makes no sense and kind of takes a huge crap on the source material the MCU pulls from. If Sharon is the Power Broker, why did she lead Bucky, Sam, and Zemo to Nagle? And why did she let Zemo kill Nagle? It’s kind of lazy and feels like an attempt to make a villain out of this character, who in the comics, is the single most important Cap heroine.
It seems weird to create a villain out of Agent 13 when characters like Madame Hydra are right there in the MCU now. Not only is the Power Broker reveal disappointing plot-wise, but it’s also just a huge disservice to Sharon’s character.
When the show started, it seemed that they’d be taking the route of Waid’s Captain America Volume 3, showing a Sharon who’d been wronged by the world and who became disillusioned with the hero life. But a big part about the Waid approach to Sharon, which revolutionized the character for the modern era, was that she wasn’t this total cynic she pretended to be.
The cynic thing was as much of a defense mechanism as it was an act, a way for her to release her anger out on the world that wronged her while protecting herself from being hurt again. The MCU had the perfect chance to craft a strong character like this out of their own canon with Sharon being on the run, and instead, they went the route of character assassination yet again.
It’s disappointing for longtime Cap readers when the MCU already stole much of Sharon’s backstory and traits and copy/pasted it onto their version of Peggy already, a character who is virtually inconsequential in the comics. The ending credits seem to poise her to be the next big villain in the Cap movies, which is…incredibly disappointing.
But to say The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s finale is bad because of its disappointing takes on Sharon Carter and the Flag Smashers would be a lie. It would undermine all the good the finale does, like show Sam Wilson taking on his role as Captain America. Seeing him finally come into the role is a delight and he has some incredibly powerful moments in the show. The MCU’s adaptation of his costume is one of the best in the franchise to date, giving us a Captain America that looks awesome. The action sequences with him as Cap are also incredibly rewarding.
By far the most powerful segments of the finale come from the final moments with Sam revisiting Isaiah Bradley and Eli Bradley. The scenes of Sam taking Bradley to the Captain America museum, which now features a statue of him and a blurb of text that outlines his story, is incredibly important material. No longer will he be the hero that history erased, and Carl Lumbly’s performance here is absolutely incredible.
It’s also interesting to see U.S. Agent finally become himself, taking on the mantle and getting his own comic-accurate costume. Learning more about him and Madame Hydra’s plans are some of the more exciting aspects for the future of MCU Cap projects, giving us exciting villains for Sam to face off against.
Sebastian Stan also knocks it out of the park again acting-wise as Bucky finally takes Sam’s advice when it comes to his goal of making amends. It’s hard to watch those scenes of Bucky apologizing for killing someone’s son as the Winter Soldier and not feel that Stan is absolutely delivering in his performance as this character.
The ending sequence with Sam’s family hosting a party is one of the most heartwarming things in the MCU to date — it’s hard to watch that without smiling, really. And the ending credits, now displaying the words “Captain America and the Winter Soldier” instead of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is truly great stuff.
All in all, the finale does some great work with Sam, setting an exciting stage for his tenure as Captain America even amidst some disappointing choices elsewhere in the show. One thing’s for certain, the world is ready to see more of Sam Wilson as Captain America.
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