I am finally putting my highly overpriced degree in psychology to good use. And when I say good use, I mean psychoanalyzing a group of fictional television characters in a TV show about superheroes—oh, how my parents must be so proud.
When Disney+ announced that they were coming out with a trio of Marvel shows: WandaVision, Loki and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I was thrilled. Not just because quarantine has made me a total nerd when it comes to Marvel content, but because these stories looked thrilling. I won’t go into depth about the powerhouse of a show that is WandaVision and the absolute agony it put me through—another time, another article perhaps. Instead, I will be focusing on the devastating and heart-wrenching show, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
The show follows the duo of Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, and Sam Wilson, portrayed by Anthony Mackie, and their lives after the events of the last Avengers film. Now, I have been following this pair of actors for years, ever since they were paired up for press junkets for one of the first Captain America films. To be honest, the main reason for my dedication to this duo is the life-long crush on Sebastian Stan I’ve had since watching Gossip Girl as a tween. But besides that point, these two have something special between them. They have the type of chaotic energy that you just can’t take your eyes off of. Their conversations are fun, witty and mind-blowingly idiotic, and I love it. They feed off of each other oddities, and you can’t help but laugh at their buffoonery.
Anthony Mackie is one of those subtle movie stars that sneaks up on you with one good film after another. He has been working in the film industry for almost twenty years and has so many smash hits under his belt it is hard to keep up. Let us not forget his first ever role as Papa Doc in 8 Mile, how much stronger of a start can you get? Sebastian Stan, on the other hand, is an actor that pops up in the most random films and gives a solid emotional performance every time. From I, Tonya to The Martian to his top notch acting in Hot Tub Time Machine (yes, I have seen that film, and I will not be taking questions about it at this time), he hits us with new and surprising characters each time.
After watching copious goofy interviews between the two actors, I was ready for a funny buddy cop-style comedy between these two men. A heartwarming show for the whole family to watch. I was ready for intense chase scenes, witty banter and cute friendship moments—a 21 Jump Street of superhero films, if you will. Let’s just say I was more than surprised when the show opened with Bucky Barnes in government mandated therapy and Sam Wilson giving up the Captain America shield as he questions his own worthiness. Now that is not the fun and quirky Marvel that I remember.
Throughout the show so far, they have also touched on some heavy hitters when it comes to taboo subject matters one would not expect in a Marvel film. The characters have dealt with unfair wages and compensation, PTSD, police brutality, the racism of scientific testing in America, refugee camps and the dark and distorted history behind the “American Dream.” All in the first three episodes. Damn.
While this isn’t exactly the fun comedy I thought I was signing up for, I am totally and utterly in. And listen, I am not just saying this because the two main characters are portrayed by beautiful and talented men, but that doesn’t hurt. Instead, I say this because the risk they are willing to take to discuss real life issues in an otherwise fictionalized fantasy world is riveting. The challenges touched on in the show are dealt with by individuals around the world, for subject matters like these to be brought to the big screen by the most lucrative film franchise of all time is pretty crazy, and there is definitely something to be said about that. The two characters have had minimal screen time with actual dialogue in their previous films, but their stories are something that need to be told. Marvel took a leap with these new shows—a big leap—and I am very interested to see where this decision takes them.
So, if you are one of those individuals that has been hesitant about watching this show after WandaVision, I say try it out. Take a risk on it, because Marvel sure as hell did and it just might be worth the hype.