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Falcon and the Winter Soldier director on Sam picking up the shield

Falcon as Cap
Anthony Mackie as the Falcon Pic credit: Marvel

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5

At long last, Sam Wilson has accepted his destiny. 

After a pitched battle with John Walker, the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had Sam deciding it was time to give up his doubts and pick up the shield of Captain America. 

Series director Kari Skogland is now speaking on why the series wanted to wait for Sam to come to grips with the weight of his new duty. 

The challenge of the shield

In the show’s premiere, Sam had given Cap’s shield to the Smithsonian, only to be surprised that the government chose John Walker as Captain America instead.

When Bucky demanded to know why, Sam admitted he was afraid of living up to Steve’s legacy. He also addressed the blunt truth on how he felt uncomfortable taking on the mantle of the face of a country whose history with black people is very troublesome. 

That was added onto by Sam discovering that in the 1950s, soldier Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) had been subjected to the Super-Soldier Serum to serve in the Korean War.

Rather than being hailed as a hero, Isaiah was sentenced to prison, used as a lab rat, and had to fake his own death to live a quiet life of obscurity. 

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Skogland explained how the series had to have Sam face these issues to accept being Cap. 

“We wanted Sam to engage in both a public and private conversation of what it means for a Black man to pick up such an iconic historically white symbol. By starting off with his acknowledgement of how important it is as a symbol, and that it is connected to a bygone era, Sam opens the door to the idea that what defines a hero today is not the same ideal as it was when Steve first picked up the shield.”

“It is important that we explore all sides to its future as a symbol, given it represents the American flag and the deep history that comes with something that represents equality and freedom,” she continues. “It needs to be an ongoing discussion because those very coveted ideas that are the core to the American Dream are actually fragile and need to be protected from those that go down a slippery slope, no matter how well intentioned, that actually puts freedom and equality in the crosshairs.”

Getting the shield

Falcon and Winter Soldier Super Bowl trailer offers a surprising MCU crossover
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson in Falcon and Winter Soldier Super Bowl trailer. Pic credit: Marvel

The episode opened with Sam and Bucky facing Walker, who had just used the shield to murder a Flag-Smasher in cold blood. Despite Walker’s insistence, “I am Captain America,” the pair beat him, and Sam picked up the shield, meaningfully wiping the blood off it. 

Sam returned to his Louisana home, where he and Bucky helped Sam’s sister save their family’s fishing business. Sam also began training in using the shield himself. 

Skogland says this montage, with Sam caring about helping his family and community, emphasized what kind of hero he truly is. 

“I wanted the show to explore the redefinition of a hero who has traditionally been seen as a warrior/soldier to being a first responder and front line worker. To see a hero who has a strong moral fiber and yet is not rigid so is able to conciliate, include and discuss with the opposition with an eye to solving global issues because they are ultimately interconnected to our universal quality of life.”

The episode ended with Karli leading the Flag-Smasher in an attack on the United Nations. The final shot was Sam opening up a case he received from Wakanda that might hold a brand new suit. 

Thus, while the series began with him reluctant, the final episode appears set to have Sam finally complete his journey to becoming the new Captain America. 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 1 finale streaming on Disney+ April 23.

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