I know how Falcon and the Winter Soldier is going to end. I haven’t had an advanced screening, or seen any leaks but… come on. Falcon has a shield. John Walker has a shield. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going to happen – the whole thing will obviously end in a pillow fight.
No, it’ll end with a symmetrical battle between two well matched heroes who represent the same ideals (one with a villainous bent), each using similar powers. It’s the way Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and almost every other MCU story has ended. WandaVision, the most creative and risky endeavour from Marvel yet, was also hammered into a climactic one-on-one battle between Wanda and Agatha (plus Vision and Vision), despite so clearly not suiting a high-octane action finale.
I don’t know exactly what will happen. Falcon will win, but what that means for his future as the owner of the shield, I don’t know. Bucky will help, and again, not entirely sure exactly where he’ll stand when all is said and done. Walker probably won’t die, not with Madam Hydra now in the picture, and something needs to be resolved with Karli Morgenthau, even if her potential is now as shattered as the skull John Walker exacted his vengeance for Battlestar upon. There might be some Power Broker bullshit with Sharon Carter too, or that might be saved for next season, or a future instalment of the MCU. Or it could be discarded like so many other threads this multilayered universe has let unravel in its quest for simplicity.
And hey, the fight might be cool. Bucky has a good record; Bucky vs Cap in Winter Soldier and Bucky plus Cap vs Tony in Civil War are two of the most interesting fist fights the MCU has produced. It’ll be entertaining. Most of us will like it. But isn’t it kind of upsetting that we know the basic structure already? This is not a sitcom that’s been running for years so we’re all down with the formula as long as it makes us laugh. It’s episode six of a mini series, which may or may not be recurring, in a show trying to take a deeper look at the characters. Still, we know exactly what’s going to happen. And not necessarily because the show has done a brilliant job of setting things up – it’s been far more up and down than WandaVision and often deeply confused by its own themes. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was destined to end this way because things that ended this way previously made the studio a lot of money.
The worst part is, this time it’s actually interesting. Black Panther should have ended differently; it was far too layered a story to end in a fist fight between complex characters T’Challa and Killmonger, clawing at each other in order to establish whose ideology was superior. Likewise, Wanda ending her magical meta sitcom ride with a magic sky battle undermined the show’s creative ideas. But with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it could have worked if it wasn’t so predictable. The fight is very much a part of their character. Falcon, a Black man with conflicted motivations on representing America, fighting with the true shield given to him by Captain America and taken away by actual America.
Then John Walker, a white man with fascist tendencies who served America proudly only to have his country turn their backs once he displays the same behaviour he had previously been praised for. He has a fake shield, made of inferior metals and featuring his old war medals, but he has the supersoldier serum. The fight is the point. These differences can only be settled by violence, and Sam’s skin gives his violence a deeper context. But it’s hard to give the show credit when a series called Magic Shark Man and the Summer Fighter would have ended in the same way, with a magic shark battle in the ocean while Summer Fighter realises the power of friendship and helps, or something. Also there’s a left wing terrorist who loves to save refugees and blow up buildings just as much.
Knowing how this particular show will end isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s that we know how every Marvel thing will end, and it means it’s increasingly harder to get invested in it. Black Widow and Shang-Chi will be the same. I hope Loki is different enough to be allowed its own thing, but then I hoped WandaVision was too. Falcon definitely isn’t, and that means it was doomed from the start.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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