- Bucky and Sam chemistry: The best part of the show hands down. The funny and tension-filled chemistry that Bucky and Sam have is something that not a lot of shows will ever get right and that is that. Bucky being this guy who is sort of living with two sets of memories in his head and the way they write him is sort of constantly going between these two sides of himself. I don’t think he will ever get over the fear of one day turning into The Winter Soldier again but I wonder what was the reason for him leaving Wakanda, he wants to make amends but also he could have done his therapy properly there but that just might be me wanting to see more of ‘The White Wolf’. Sam is an interesting contrast because he is upbeat and still very much into saving the world and only he deals with the reality of not being this big deal in the world view. I think about how to Bucky and Steve a lot of their problems came with the super-soldier serum but with Sam, it was normal everyday Black people problems and I think that’s why I love that they actually had Bucky acknowledge that they never even thought about what it would mean to give the Shield to a Black man because for them the problems they had never had to do with their skin colour or where they were born. That’s why I loved Bucky acknowledging the oversight because it is something that white people can do but it is not always malicious and I think that it was important to remind ourselves that Steve is not this perfect human being. I think I liked Bucky and Sam more when they were with Zemo because he riled Bucky up and his charisma bounced well off of Sam’s. It was entertaining. I also like Bucky becoming somewhat a part of Sam’s family because I don’t think Steve or Bucky really had that kind of family upbringing, one filled with laughter.
- The direction of Captain America: I liked what they did with the journey Sam took to getting the mantle of Captain America. This show showed us, Sam, doing all the work of a Captain America, without the prestige and the recognition that he deserves for it. For Sam, the shield represented Steve well but for him, it didn’t seem right and in a lot of ways it’s kind of like hand-me-down clothes. The gesture is nice but the clothes may not fit you the way you would like. That is why I like the approach the show took with Sam not necessarily becoming Captain America but of him figuring out what he would want the shield/mantle to mean to him (optimism, resolve, unity) and then wearing it to fit his own aesthetic. I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous when the show seemed like it wanted to tag Isaiah Bradley as bitter and then move on because he has every reason to be bitter and I was concerned they were just going to say that he should just get over it. The recognition of sacrifice, bravery and courage are what separates the Isaiah Bradleys from the Steve Rogers of the world. It’s just the truth. Cause the people who get recognised to get all the dignity, all the respect and all the praise in the world. They didn’t even give Isaiah or his team the dignity of making that choice, of becoming a super-soldier. I also wished that they made an exhibit of not just Isaiah but of all his whole team, of their sacrifice but also a recognition that none of those Black men were willing participants but they still did the work. Maybe that will be saved for another time, maybe Isaiah might get his own Winter Soldiers coming after him. I also wanted to see that fight between Isaiah and The Winter Soldier that got Isaiah to tear off his Bucky arm. I want to see it so bad.
- Zemo and the Dora Milaje: Listen, Zemo is a master manipulator and he did his job well. I think people forget that he and Thanos (Thanos of Infinity War) are the only MCU villains who actually succeeded in their mission. When I saw the promo of Zemo for the show I was wondering about the Wakandans and how they would feel about Zemo being out and about because he had killed their King T’Chaka. I was not disappointed when I saw the Dora show up and scold Bucky for helping Zemo out of jail but also for standing their ground against John Walker. The funny thing about all the people complaining about the Dora claiming jurisdiction wherever they want is that John Walker is also not in his own country, at the time, so who is he to decide who has jurisdiction? But even more than that the Wakandans are owners of the strongest metal on Earth so that makes them one of the most powerful and richest nations on Earth and that means that many countries would try to ally with them as a nation and allow them to roam around kind of like Walker was doing at the time. This honestly not the last we will see of Zemo and I am extremely curious as to how long the Wakandans would allow Zemo to stay in other countries’ prisons if they keeping letting him get loose. I see a confrontation coming soon. Hopefully in the upcoming Wakanda show?
- US Agent John Walker: As the sweet is not as sweet without the sour, the good is not so good without the bad. When Sam was given the shield I saw a lot of people complaining about why it went to him instead of Bucky or someone like Steve Rogers and I think when you look at John Walker you realise why. John Walker is exactly what Steve would be like if he was made now. I felt bad for John Walker for a moment then I realised that as much as he was getting his ass handed to him so was everyone else. Bucky and Sam were also struggling with the Dora and the supersoldiers. The thing that John doesn’t understand is (quoting Spiderverse here): Anyone can wear the mask. The mask/uniform doesn’t make you special – even though he said that he knew that in the second episode, it’s clear that it was all for show. The crazy thing is John Walker really encompasses Captain America cause he is in a lot of ways what America represents. Eager to prove himself, self-important, prone to violence, selfish and even the fact that he has a Black partner (RIP Watkins) who was his moral compass and without him, he is nothing more than a violent murderer which is exactly what a US soldier is and is trained to be. I am glad that they showed him getting some sort of reprimand for killing one of the Flag-Smashers because I was afraid that they would have gone the Homelander route and just spun the whole situation into something good. I was also glad they let him come to his senses eventually. I think it could have been so easy to just label him as this crazed individual and forget that he too just wanted to help, in the first place. With all that being said it is so easy for him to go between crazed and normal that seeing him as US Agent is going to be interesting. Any way, I put him the good part of the show because of the kind of combative morality he brought to the fandom online.
- The Winter Soldier resolution: I would have actually liked to have seen Bucky go down a lot more names of people he would like to make amends with because I don’t know why they thought he could make amends with Yuri and then be done. The reason I say this is because again I think he is still very much afraid of getting switched back into The Winter Soldier and they did not engage with that enough for me. I think it would have been cool for Bucky to actually get random memory triggers if he bumped into someone or something that he knew from those old days. I think it would be even more interesting if someone important out there in the world would have actually found out what he was up to as he was making amends and actively tried to stop or kill him for it. There is no way that Bucky can go around with names and details of events during his Winter Soldier days and someone out there is not nervous about that. Missed opportunity.
- Sharon Carter is the Power Broker: Listen, I don’t think anyone was really surprised about this revelation and I think they had a missed opportunity here as well. Either there was not enough time spent on Sharon or too much screen time spent on her because the revelation was a letdown. If the Power Broker is supposed to be this mysterious person working in the shadows with infinite power and such I think that they shouldn’t have spent so much time showing us how much Sharon has acquired power and influence in the wake of her exile. I also don’t think it helped showing us how dark she had become. If they had shown her as her old, softer self, maybe it could have worked but another part that makes me mad is that we could see her making moves in the background. Imagine how much more impact it would have been if we had seen Sharon in the episode with the scientist and then we only saw her again in the final episode helping them out. Also, think about how much better it would have been to actually not see the confrontation between Sharon and Karli until after she had gotten her pardon. I think that leaving that mystery element of whether Sharon was the Power Broker or working for him/her/they or undercover to eliminate them would have been a nice lead in to the next season or movie. Just disappointed.
This show was not perfect but it dealt with the legacy of the Captain America mantle and the shield really well for the most part. I think that The Flag-Smashers were a great facilitator to Sam’s, even Walker’s, progression because they helped him sort of step up and sort of guide the thought behind what people see when they see the shield into something different, something that meets today’s standards. I am surprised that people were shocked that Karli died but I wasn’t because she was a means to an end. Karli served no purpose going forward because the show setup so many other more prominent figures to be future antagonists. I loved the chemistry and the acting between Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl and Carl Lumbly was out of this world. I loved the first and last scene between Anthony as Sam and Erin Kellyman as Karli because it showed the escalation but also how empathetic Sam is.
I think it is very difficult to follow WandaVision in its whimsical nature but it did a better job of expanding on the characters better, outside of them being superheroes, and it actually fits the tone of the previous Captain America movies as well. I really enjoyed every episode and it’s a show that I would recommend.