Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Or, CA:TWS, as people have logically been labelling it (for some reason, this makes me think about cat food, though, so I’ll just stick to the full name 🙂 )
I went to watch the newest Marvel offering with two friends, and the one on my left (“on your left!”) hated it, and the one on my right loved it. Now, after loads of brainstorming, I feel ready to attempt the colossus thing that will be my very spoilerific series of reviews.
So. This is how things will work: I shall be splitting this up into different parts, because otherwise the word-length of this thing will be awful, and I’ll jump all over the place and nothing will make sense. I’ll be linking my posts to each other for ease of access, and also, that way you can read the parts that you want to, without wading through masses of words you don’t care enough about to read.
Disclaimer: in the desire for all honesty, I just want to remind you all that when I’ve written about something here, especially in review context, it’s usually an opinion that has been revised and discussed with other people, as well as influenced by the reviews of others which I have read. Please keep that in mind 🙂
For a look at my reaction to the introduction of The Winter Soldier, click HERE!
For a look at my response to the development of Captain America, click HERE!
I really admire Marvel in their adaptation of Sam Wilson’s character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam (codename: The Falcon) is a former USAF pararescueman trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack, whose best friend died in battle. Played by Anthony Mackie, Sam is something of a cross between the ‘buddy’ in the buddy cop film (sharing that role with Natasha Romanov, codename: The Black Widow) as well as the more supportive and emotionally stable role of the ‘love interest’ (which is not to say that he is the love interest – he simply has some of the attributes commonly associated with the role, especially for superhero films). I enjoyed his quips, which were great for the necessary moments of comic relief, but he also has a more serious side and seems pretty well-rounded for a new face on set; a pleasant surprise, seeing that ‘funny characters’ are often sidelined and serve no purpose apart from their humour. He was comedic, but he was also heroic, a good friend, compassionate and helpful. He also contributed quite lot in the climactic sequence and saved the day together with Steve and Natasha. As Mackie describes in an interview, Sam has “more of a working relationship [with Captain America], a respect relationship as opposed to a leader and follower. The three of us [Steve, Sam and Natasha] work really well together.”
He’s also an empathetic character who gives us insight about PTSD in a vastly different way to Tony Stark’s civilian take on it in Iron Man 3 – I was especially happy to see PTSD being covered in a film about soldiers. This is such an important issue that rarely ever gets the attention it deserves in our society. Most films glance over the traumatic effects of war, and the long-lasting impacts that it has on people’s lives, and focus more on the action, so to have the support group scene was a big step forward, in my opinion, and this was emphasised by Marvel’s take on it. Instead of emasculating Sam for caring about the emotional welfare of other people, or Steve and the other members in the group for wanting or needing that type of support, Marvel showed it as a regular course of action for people; something to be sought out on a soldier’s return and recognised as an important part of readjustment to life. The scene is also vital for the development of Wilson’s characterisation, as it gives Marvel a supportive male figure, whereas this role has normally remained within the domain of women.
The Falcon hails from one of the most iconic of Marvel’s African-American superheroes, preceding many of DC’s creations and being perhaps most notable for being the first hero without the qualifier “Black” in his superhero name. It was great to see that Marvel kept this aspect in the MCU, as well as choosing a really great actor to play him – I believe Anthony Mackie is well-deserved in the positive reviews that he has received for his performance as Wilson. It’s also nice to note that he recognises how this will affect the lives of viewers, stating in an interview that “the biggest thing for me, the most exciting thing for me, is to come out on Halloween and see all the little black kids dressed up like the Falcon. There are so many parts of our society that are not catered to or represented fully and this will give a new generation of our society someone to look up to and identify with. That’s why I am so intensely focused on bringing the character to life in a special way.” The dedication which is apparent on the screen shows that Mackie’s desire to portray Sam Wilson as a way to give children the opportunity to have a role model to look up to in the MCU and honour the tradition of the character is clear from his performance, creating a character with true integrity and, even better, emitting a quiet self-confidence and aura of trustworthiness.
Sam’s ‘piloting’ is a cool twist, and a nice modernisation – I just hope that we get to see more of his comic-character shining through, because bird telepathy was really an integral part of his skill-set. Although, Marvel so far have either science or magic (which Jane reveals is just advanced, science in Thor: The Dark World, anyway), rather than actual supernatural stuff, which the telepathic ability kinda falls under (that or mutation, which is strictly not part of the MCU, because of copyright reasons), and thus I feel MCU isn’t going to do that, simply because they’re trying to make everything more believable. For example, everyone’s suits are more “real world” and not skin-tight outfits in bright colours, something that I will forever be thankful for. However, maybe MCU will surprise me and make another clever parallel in some way!
Simply put, Sam Wilson is a man, who, despite his retirement from the military after the death of his best friend in action, and how much it must have cost him to regain a sense of normalcy and routine, sacrifices a civilian life, takes in Cap and follows him till the end of the road, putting his trust in a relative stranger and highlighting his skills and humbleness in the simple statement; ” Don’t look at me – I do what he does, only slower“, that encapsulates his steady attitude towards life. I am proud that he’s joined the MCU cast.