“One World, One People” concludes The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, except this clearly isn’t a series finale because nothing is wrapped in the kind of bow we’d prefer so, I suppose we shall now have to wait to hear what’s happening because what!? (Marvel has confirmed there will be a Captain America 4 film starring Anthony Mackie, so that could be it.) That said, I’m not going to get into the fact that everything apart from Sam Wilson’s arc felt rushed and incoherent, executed in such a way that I just don’t even want to bother trying to figure out. So for this week’s highlights, there are no highlights, not in the way there have been before, instead, there is only Sam Wilson appreciation.
O’ Captain My Captain.
Sam Wilson is finally and officially Captain America, and if I was less emotional about this, I might be able to talk about it more. “Yet I’m still here. No super serum. No blond hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is that I believe we can do better. We can’t demand that people step up if we don’t meet them halfway.” The sole fact that Sam does not need the super serum is so important to note because it’s what makes his story beautiful.
The thing with the serum is that it only amplifies, and thereby, somehow, Sam’s empathy would be maximized in tenfold. Imagine it for a moment. Because Steve Rogers was great and wonderful, and I will always adore him, but Sam’s empathy is something else. It’s not like anything we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it largely comes from everything he has been through. Steve needed the serum because he couldn’t join the army, but Sam already has the in and the technology through red wing to stand on his own without the serum.
Which is why the scene of him holding up the car on his own was so stunning to watch because every superhero origin moment demands a scene as thrilling as this. They’ve all got them and seeing Sam’s was just as rewarding and just as beautiful. Where one man was caught brutally using the shield to murder, Sam Wilson instead saved lives with people watching, phones out and recording. “That’s the Black Falcon there, I tell you!” “Nah, that’s Captain America!” We’re not crying, it’s just dust in our eyes.
As a legendary superhero with wings and a shield who represents hope and empathy.
And Sam doesn’t stand alone, his empathy extends—he chooses to make matters right even if they’re in the past because it matters tremendously for the future. That’s why his choice to acknowledge Isaiah as the first Captain America at the Smithsonian matters so much because the stories we neglect are the people that are left behind. The history that is ignored and denied is repeated. Moving forward requires acknowledgement, credit, and understanding. And with Sam Wilson, no one gets left behind, instead they are uplifted. They are brought to the places they belong in, they are given the acknowledgement and promises they deserve. There have been a number of beautiful performances on this show, but Sam and Isaiah in an embrace was the best we’ve gotten.
Anthony Mackie and Carl Lumbly broke me with their embrace. You felt every ounce of the understanding in each of their emotions along with the catharsis of how profoundly the moment impacts both of them. Some performances require very few words because everything is laid bare beautifully, and this is one of those performances. This is one of those moment you watch and the tears flow so effortlessly, you just don’t have the words to describe it.
The history of the shield is complicated, but its future can be better. Its future can start with inclusivity, acknowledgement, and empathy. Its present could dictate what follows. Someone like Karli didn’t have to die because Sam could have gotten through to her. And I don’t want to keep discussing the what could have happened, but Sam’s empathy could have gotten through to her. It could have made a difference, except the chance was never given. So, we rely on what’s ahead.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier leaves us with more questions than answers, but we do at least get some bit of quiet joy in everyone back at Louisiana celebrating Sam with Bucky by his side. It’s moments like this that showcase just how far they have both come, Bucky especially because this is a moment of real, true joy for him after finally making amends with everyone, including Yori. It’s a moment of belonging. A moment for him to be part of a family after years and years alone. (Though I’ll admit I’m so disappointed in how short the scene between him and Yori was because I wanted to see all of the emotions behind it. The short scenes don’t work in a moment like this, it requires a lot more.)
Other than the way the series handled Sam’s arc, the way they brought the friendship with Bucky full circle is stunning to see. They’re a family now. They have each other, their loved ones, and they’re both on the right side of history, the right side of the team, and trying to figure out how to get through to others.