TFATWS: Episode 2 - Things You May Have Missed
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney+ is packed full of comic book references and easter eggs. With that being said, it took me about 3 rewatches of this episode to truly catch them all (and I am sure there is even more that I missed). Like any other Marvel project, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series is using its source material wisely. I think it's time we dive into those things you may have missed in Episode 2: "The Star Spangled Man".
At the top of the episode, we learn a little bit more about who John Walker really is and how he came to be the new "Captain America". In the comics, John Walker has multiple aliases. Some of these titles include Captain America, US Agent, and Super-Patriot. In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Walker claims to not be "super" and ensures the public that he's just a regular Army Veteran that has some very impressive achievements. It's true he's not a super soldier, but per the comics he does gain enhanced abilities through the Power Broker (more on him later). With this information, it does make me a little skeptical of John Walker's true intentions on the show. I'll save my theories for the end of this blog.
As the episode continues, we are more formally introduced to The Flag Smashers. When battling two of the most skilled Avengers these 8 "super soldiers" have no problem over powering them. The new Captain America and his pal Battlestar don't even stand a chance. In the comics, The Flag Smashers are not a team but instead just one terrorist. This man was Karl Morgenthau. Flag-Smasher's main goal in the comics was to liberate Earth from it's oppression of national rule. With John Walker being such an extreme conservative in the comics, you can see why they wouldn't see eye to eye. As for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series, the show represents the Flag Smasher team as a "Robin Hood" type of group, with a gender-bent interpretation of the comic book character as the leader that goes by the name Karli Morgenthau. Now may be a good time to understand their similarities to The BUCkies from Marvel Comics.
The BUCkies were a secret organization in the comics that was lead by John Walker. This team supported the Super-Patriot and were really just around to make him look good so he could gain approval from the public as the new Captain America. I know I said I'd save my theories for the end, so just keep these guys in mind when I discuss my thoughts.
Now back to a new character we were introduced to this episode, Lemar Hoskins. Lemar is a former U.S soldier like his best pal John Walker. In the comics, he is known as both Battlestar and Bucky. He too was chosen by the U.S government to fight alongside the new Captain America as the new Bucky. Lemar also has a history as a part of The BUCkies team, where he helped stage attacks to better help the Super-Patriots brand. He later changed his name to Battlestar after realizing the term "Bucky" was demeaning to African-Americans. I like the nod to this in the show during the scene between the characters in the military vehicle on the way to the airport. Bucky gets so offended by the conservation that he hops out of the truck once Hoskins reveals his government issued alias. Bucky's frustration in this scene is so valid here not only because the government clearly replaced his best friend with guy who never knew him or has gone through what he has, but the government has replaced him as well. So why are they forcing him to clean up his reputation as The Winter Soldier if they don't need his help as Bucky Barnes?
In the following scenes, we see what The Flag Smashers are up to. We know where they're hiding out, we know that someone is after Karli, and we know their true motive. True to the comic book likeness of this group, the team's true purpose is to ensure that people removed from power by The Blip remain out of power. We are not quite sure yet how they found the The Blip's plus-sides per se to be beneficial to them and the rest of the world, but I am sure we are soon to find out in the coming weeks. The more I watch this episode, the more I see The Flag Smashers as just misunderstood vigilante's who are going about doing the right thing the wrong way.
Sam and Bucky wind up in Baltimore, Maryland in search of someone that can help them understand how the Flag Smashers became to be, what they believe, super soldiers. When they arrive at their destination, Bucky knocks on the door requesting to see Isaiah. I knew immediately who this was. Isaiah Bradley is also known as Black Captain America, although he never officially dawned the title in the comic books. He was one of 300 African-American soldiers who were tested on during WWII as part of a project to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that so famously worked on Steve Rodgers. Bradley was the only survivor of the experiment, so he was sent off to battle. The military deemed his service as a treason, so for punishment they imprisoned him for 17 years.
His legacy remained a secret in order to protect the super soldier operation. All of this was vaguely explained in the episode, but you really wouldn't of known it's significance without the comic book context. This then leads us to believe that the young boy who opened the door for our heroes was Isaiah's grandson, Elijah Bradley. In the comics, Elijah is a part of the Young Avengers under the alias Patriot. He gains the abilities of peak human potential after receiving a blood transfusion from his grandfather, which mutates him due to exposure to the Super Soldier Serum. With more sly appearances from Young Avengers popping up throughout the MCU, I think it's only a matter of time we see Elijah in action with the rest of his crew.
Besides all the little MCU nods, these are the most major bits of information anyone needs if they want to know what to expect from the remainder of the season. Since we've reach the end of the blog, as promised I will discuss my theories for the show.
*POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING JUST IN CASE I AM RIGHT*
After collecting all of my thoughts after this absolutely amazing episode, I think my theory is pretty solid. I'm predicting that John Walker is the true villain of this season. Going in we all assumed it would be Zemo, but after this episode teased his true purpose in the show it makes it a little more difficult to believe. Bucky and Sam are going to break Zemo out of prison so he can help defeat these "super soldiers". This makes more sense as to why Zemo will dawn his iconic purple mask now to conceal his identity. I'm leaning more towards the fact that John Walker is the true villain solely based on his actions in this episode. I do think he genuinely wants to be the greatest Captain America he can be, but he may be too obsessed with his chance at the mantle. This makes me think he reached out to the Power Broker.
The Power Broker has a history in the comics of giving John Walker his enhanced abilities. He was even teased in this episode with The Flag Smashers fleeing his men on their recreational airplane. I'm guessing that the Power Broker recreated the Super Soldier Serum, The Flag Smashers stole it so it wouldn't get into the wrong hands, then used it on themselves rather than destroy it to further prevent any problems and just make themselves stronger.
This can further justify why John and Lemar are avidly tracking them requesting Sam and Bucky for help. It would also make sense for that dialogue between John and Karli during the freight truck fight. I'm also assuming that John is the one after Karli, and the one that sent her that threatening text message. "You took what was mine" seems like a very specific sentence, and it's obviously an item of enough importance to threaten her life. All of these signs point in one direction for me. So until TFATWS steers me in a different direction, I'll be believing my theory until next week.
Overall, this episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was completely satisfied and left me full of anticipation. I am so excited about this show and where it's going. I love how it's touching on relevant social issues and being bold enough to face them head on. I respect Marvel so much for that. It only gives me more hope that Marvel will continue to stick to its true comic roots and push the boundaries. What were your thoughts on episode 2 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier?
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