The Falcon & The Winter Soldier: the world outside the window breaks into the MCU

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier: the world outside the window breaks into the MCU

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier

Stan Lee always had a joke ready, he was able to surprise you all of a sudden with a fulminating affirmation with which he opened your eyes to his vision of the world. Among his famous aphorisms, one in particular embodies the hallmark of Marvel stories: Marvel is the world outside the window. Thinking about it, looking back at our libraries, it is difficult not to randomly pick up an adventure from Cap, the X-Men or Iron Man and not find a reference to the reality of the period. This same feeling, this synergy between the fantastic and the real is revealed again with The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, the Disney series that a few hours ago thrilled us with a sublime, perfect ending.

Over the last ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe fascinated us and enveloped us in a hyperkinetic and adventurous superhero saga, with incredible emotional peaks that relied on a narrative frame based on charismatic and symbolic figures. And we let ourselves be bewitched by gods, immortal soldiers and hyper-technological knights, we shared triumphs and falls, but everything was meticulously chiseled within a saga that had no point of contact with the real world. And that was fine, those stories were the emanation of an epic whose subtle but undeniable message was to remind us that behind the masks there are normal, fallacious and fragile men and women, who drew their true superpower from this humanity. But despite this humanization, they were still far from the everyday.

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier: telling reality

Comic Marvel, on the other hand, has increasingly woven a close link between fiction and reality, without fear of confronting the most painful aspects and unpleasant of the human condition. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, from this point of view, had deviated from its paper counterpart, it had let the world outside the window remain distant. Understandable, considering that, however complex, the MCU mosaic was born as an evolution of cinematic entertainment, thus aiming to amaze and exalt rather than lead to reflect and question ourselves on our daily life. Ideally, the end of an era seen in Avengers: Endgame could be understood as an epochal change not only narrative but also conceptual for the MCU.

After making comic heroes human, perhaps it was finally here time to let the world in through the window. Having moved the production of new content to the serial context, as the first step of the new Phase Four, could have been the perfect moment to mark the change of pace. When the first news appeared on the two Disney + series, WandaVision and The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, this possibility had become more and more substantial. In our eyes we still had the moving passing of the baton between an elderly Steve Rogers and a frightened Sam Wilson in the finale of Avengers: Endgame. The passage of the Shield, for many initially only a reference to a particular comic run, was the first step of a conceptual revolution that only now, with the finished vision of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, we can fully appreciate.

Of course, a first effort to take new paths was also glimpsed in WandaVision, but in that case the attention was focused on how to tell, not on what. The heartbreaking story of Wanda remains strongly linked to the context of superheroes, it does not affect contemporary society, it continues to define the harsh role of the hero, but only from an, all in all, egocentric perspective.

to The Falcon & The Winter Soldier play the role of turning point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That Shield, which has been of great importance since the first episode, is not only a heroic symbol, but appeals to the American spirit since its first appearance in the Golden Age. It should represent the highest principles of the Land of the Free, but as history teaches us, even overseas have skeletons in their closets that they would like to forget. Captain America, in comics, has always tried to unhinge these hypocrisies, he has fought on several occasions even against the recognized power to defend these ideals. Admirable, but his was a battle that always started from a privileged position: you are a white, dear Steve.

Believing that we can do better

Sam Wilson, on the other hand, certain ugliness is not he has heard them, he has lived them. The merit of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, net of the stylistic judgment, is to have taken the opportunity of the new reality of the post-Blip Marvel Cinematic Universe to not limit itself to entertainment, but to show the true face of a ' America too indulgent with itself, which is finally opening itself up to an analysis of its own soul which, even in the world of entertainment, is taking on ever more defined and honest tones, whether it is splits of reality such as Concrete Cowboy or more imaginative declinations such as Lovecraft Country or Them. I'll be honest, I never expected a Disney production to get into this social scrutiny. I was hoping, knowing the material that inspired us for The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, but seeing it on screen was a real emotional bomb.

If you are wondering if a social interest had not already been manifested with Black Panther, the answer is simple: it was different. Although the film starring the unforgettable Chadwick Boseman marked an important moment for the African American community, a clarification should be made: T’Challa is not a victim of racism. Wakanda has chosen to isolate itself from the rest of the world, it has created a society in which it was not necessary to 'have a dream', it was lived. It wasn't T’Challa who could be a potential George Floyd, it was Sam Wilson. The revolutionary soul of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier nestles in this seemingly small detail. It is here that the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks out the window and tells us about everyday life. A reality made of suffering and hatred, which has not spared even those who fought for their country like Isaiah Bradley, central image in the emotional construction of the series.

Potentially, The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, with all its imperfections, is the most marvelous product so far made by Marvel Studios, because it does not rely on comic villains, but lets it be palpable and understandable dramas to forge the protagonists. It would be easy to just talk about the good and the bad, but in reality in the six episodes of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier there are the forgotten, the oppressed, no matter how you look at them. Can we really just point the finger at Karli, deaf to his cry of pain? Are we sure the GRC is the manifestation of the good ones?

Sam Wilson, in these six episodes, was not only Falcon, but also a sharp dissecting tool of American society. Isaiah Bradley's speeches have the same violence as Karli's, because they arise from the same wrongs suffered, an awareness that Sam holds close to his heart so as not to lose his way, while trying to change the world and save the public enemy, because behind the mask of the Flag Smasher Sam does not see a terrorist, but a desperate and wounded girl. The emotional heart of The Falcon & The Winters Soldier is enclosed in Sam's speech at the end of the fight in the streets of New York, it is in Isaiah's liberating embrace.

Disney deserves credit for giving life to a series that, based on the Marvelian concept of the hero, breaks the news in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The window to which Stan Lee alluded has been opened, the world has entered and shown itself fully, in his shadows and in his bright, hopeful future. Above all, a voice has been bravely given to those who have been suffocated for decades, they have broken the mold, without hypocrisy, knowing full well how the struggle for this to change is still long, as Sam recalls who knows how much 'millions of people hate me, I know for sure '.

It's hard to hear Sam's heartfelt and angry speech and not remember one of Martin Luther King's phrases, perfect for identifying the moral value of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier:

“You may not be responsible for the situation you are in, but you will become responsible if you do nothing to change it”

What remains, then, after watching The Falcon & The Winter Soldier? A sense of maturity of the MCU, first of all, capable of going beyond the purely playful dimension to get your hands dirty with reality, showing that you don't need to have incredible powers to be heroes, you just need to have the belief 'that you can do better'.

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