Writer Derek Kolstad (John Wick) recently tweeted about how the upcoming Falcon and the Winter Soldier series will examine the world's reaction to a black Captain America. His tweets regarding this aspect of the show have since been deleted, but the idea remains no less pertinent. If anything, it leads into the larger idea of the how the show could explore racism as a whole, especially in the United States.
Frankly, in recent years, the U.S. hasn't exactly had the cleanest record when it comes to dealing with racial bigotry and prejudice. It seems like every other day you'll hear a story involving some kind of attack or slander against one group or another. It's upsetting to hear, especially so often, and yet stories like these continue to make headlines.
Marvel Studios has always dependably examined various aspects of social commentary, such as sexism, war and corruption. Racism, and race in general, has remained relatively untouched, however. Black Panther played with this topic to a certain degree, but the racial and political aspects of the film, while perhaps groundbreaking for the studio, still felt somewhat lacking compared to what other filmmakers had already done. Luke Cage also dealt with this, though in minimal doses.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is in a unique position to lend a meaningful word on the subject of racism in the United States. There are bound to be huge racial and political ramifications to the passing of Captain America's shield to Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson. The show needs to examine those consequences. Given that racial tensions in the US have been so high lately, this is another opportunity for Marvel, a big, noticeable name in pop culture, to speak out as a voice of reason and change.
The show could travel a similar route as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, featuring heavy political thriller elements. Such ideas would easily work in tandem with discussing racism in the US. Sam Wilson is no stranger to butting heads with the government. Captain America: Civil War makes that abundantly clear. Marvel's upcoming Disney+ series could further examine this element of the character, especially if the US government is directly against seeing him don the mantle of Captain America.
Writer Nick Spencer's own controversial Captain America: Sam Wilson comic series primarily revolved around the conflict of Captain America being a man of color. Sam was pitted against his own government, the people of the United States and the media at large. The series smartly used the idea of ham-fisted, one-sided media coverage to its advantage. In the face of all this conflict, Sam ultimately gave up the shield, though it certainly wasn't a bitter defeat for the character.
No one is in any rush to see Sam give up the shield, especially when he just got it at the end of Avengers: Endgame. However, Falcon and the Winter Soldier can draw a great deal of inspiration from Spencer's comics. Playing with the idea of corrupted, one-sided media coverage would go hand-in-hand with touching on concepts of racism. The media is largely responsible for shaping how people take in and perceive information. Should Sam receive poor coverage, it could lead to a nation despising him, which he would have to deal with and hopefully overcome.
Daniel Brühl's Helmut Zemo could also tie into this aspect of the show very well. Zemo could manipulate the world's perception of Sam Wilson in the role of Captain America, among whatever other deeds the villain gets up to in the show.
All of this potential conflict could also grant a lot of character growth to Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson. The character has had a substantial presence since his introduction in The Winter Soldier. He now has the potential to be a leading voice in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To see Sam deal with and overcome racial tensions and prejudice would send a powerful message -- that the character is morally uncompromisable. Viewers would also know that Sam is ready for more and that they shouldn't ignore him.
If Marvel Studios can smartly provide some commentary on racism in the United States, it could help Falcon and the Winter Soldier soar miles above even some of the MCU's best films.
Directed by Kari Skogland, Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell and Daniel Brühl and will be available on Disney+. The series will hit the streaming service in Fall 2020.