CAST: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman, Georges St-Pierre, Adepero Oduye, Desmond Chiam, Miki Ishikawa, Noah Mills, Carl Lumbly, Danny Ramirez, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
RUNNING TIME: 51 mins
PREVIOUSLY, ON THE FALCOLN AND THE WINTER SOLDIER (MILD SPOILERS): Sam Wilson (Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Stan) are in hot pursuit of Karli Morgenthau (Kellyman) and her group the Flag Smashers, which has begun to disrupt a formal government conference in order to enforce their ideology. Sam, having previously rejected the Captain America moniker, has now formally adopted the shield and its weighty responsibilities, and has just received a brand-new costume courtesy of the Wakandans. Meanwhile, disgraced Captain America John Walker (Russell) plots his own revenge on Karli and her group.
IN THIS EPISODE: Sam/Captain America and Bucky face off against Karli one last time…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
As quickly as it began, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has come to an end, and accompanying it are a handful of loose ends that are neatly tied up and knotted into a red, white and blue bow, specifically to commemorate the official debut of the new, proper Captain America.
Fans will be very happy to see Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, first introduced all the way back in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, finally carry the shield that his predecessor Steve Rogers handed down to him, and in a snazzy new get-up that’s faithful to the character’s upgraded look in the comics. However, it isn’t just the fact that he’s got a cool new costume that makes him the definitive new Cap; as we see in this sixth and final episode of the mini-series – titled One World, One People, after the villainous Flag Smashers’ mantra – he’s also got the good heart, the sense of right and wrong, and especially the diplomatic transparency that elevates the title beyond its American origins. In short, he’s definitely our new Captain America.
Sam’s first official mission, though, is to bring down the Flag Smashers and their radicalised leader Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) once and for all, especially with the previous episode showing them start to infiltrate a government conference that directly affects their agenda. With Sam in the air – and yes, despite his new title, he still keeps his wings – it’s left to Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and ally Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) to stop Karli and her followers on the ground before they can cause more carnage and bloodshed. Even that git John Walker (Wyatt Russell) throws his homemade shield into the mix, coming in with seething anger to seek revenge on Karli for the death of his right-hand man Lemar, which may or may not complicate the titular two heroes’ own efforts.
As a finale, it’s about as action-packed and conclusive as you may expect, and is in many ways a stronger ending episode than the one we got for WandaVision, because here there are plenty more satisfying payoffs with its themes, plot points and characters than the last Marvel Studios miniseries (need we forget Ralph Boener, perhaps Marvel’s biggest cock-tease since Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3?). Everything from Sam’s concerns about being ostracised by far too many for being a Black Captain America, to smaller details introduced early on such as Bucky’s reluctance to fess up to a murder committed as the brainwashed Winter Soldier, is given a proper conclusion in this episode, and they all form together as a chain of well-formed events that ultimately end this mini-series on a pleasing high note.
At the same time, it sets up a number of exciting new developments we’ll likely see soon further down the line in the MCU; beyond the introduction of a brand-new Captain America, there’s some new potential governmental threats including Julia Louis-Dreyfus – introduced last week in a shock cameo appearance – as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a character who, if her comics biography holds true on-screen, could spell huge trouble for some of our longstanding MCU heroes in the future, and as for that hateable git John Walker, he finally gets a calling that suitably git-ish and very much in keeping with his eventual comics identity. Aside from being its own self-contained narrative, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been a reasonable introduction for even more plot points to branch out into further shows or even movies, and as always it’ll be very exciting to see how and when they’ll be utilised going forward.
But now that we’ve had the chance to assess this mini-series in its entirety, how exactly does The Falcon and The Winter Soldier hold up against the numerous other Marvel projects out there? It’s certainly been a bumpy ride – after a rocky first couple of episodes, the series finally found its footing around the time that Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo re-entered the picture (and yes, even his story gets a neat wrap-up in One World, One People as well) – but it was ultimately a worthwhile one, because it allowed us to examine the very notions of being a symbol in a modern era, while also not shying away from some of the hypocrisies and dark histories behind said symbols. It played a lot of cards relating to current themes of racial and class oppression, as well as giving a fair and balanced view on some of its more radical supporting characters and their beliefs, but the combined efforts of series director Kari Skogland and lead writer Malcolm Spellman (who co-writes this final episode with Josef Sawyer) managed to incorporate those things effortlessly into a traditional MCU package. Not all of it worked, for there are times when the classic Marvel formula would always seep in which, while not terrible, does initially provide it with less of a creative voice than WandaVision had, and some surprise elements didn’t always turn out to be as shocking as they were perhaps intended, but all in all The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been a formidable effort that not only introduced a bold, brand-new take on a classic Marvel hero, but gave them as much weight and respect as was previously given to the previous owner of the shield.
Next up in Marvel’s list of Disney+ miniseries is the return of Thor’s trouble-making brother, but until Loki makes its debut this June, we’ve got two pretty solid shows to revisit before then.
SO, TO SUM UP…
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Episode 6 – One World, One People is a satisfying conclusion to the mini-series, wrapping up every loose end in a neat and tidy fashion while also giving us some strong action and character development that formally sets up some exciting new developments further on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.