A long-lost American Captain returns in the latest episode of ‘the Falcon and the Winter Soldier’

As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe audiences know, only two men have served as Captain America: Steve Rogers and now John Walker. But the second episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier lifts the veil on a long-standing military secret: While Rogers was literally on the ice between 1945 and 2012, the US government made other super soldiers with a variation of the serum that transformed Steve from a skinny street kid into a stocky hero. One of those test subjects was Isaiah Bradley, who made his comic book debut in 2003. And now, he’s officially part of the MCU continuity.

Midway through “The Star-Spangled Man,” Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) takes Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to meet Isaiah, played by veteran actor Carl Lumbly, who also has a role in the DC Universe as the voice. from Martian for a long time. Manhunter – whom Bucky encountered earlier during the Korean War when he was still the Winter Soldier controlled by HYDRA. “We met in ’51,” Bucky explains. “If by knowing, you mean I beat you up, then yeah,” Isaiah says quickly, adding that he claimed half of Bucky’s metal arm in their decades-long skirmish.

In the comics, Isaiah’s origin story is much darker than Steve’s. One of the three hundred black test subjects in Project Rebirth, he watched many of his fellow soldiers die during the experiments until only five men were left. The Defense Department covered up that sad news and refrained from turning survivors into celebrities in the same way that Steve’s name and face were everywhere during WWII. It seems that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier he’s following that story, as well as Isaiah’s post-war incarceration. “Do you know what they did to me for being a hero?” he says during his brief reunion with Bucky. “They put my ass in jail for 30 years. People did tests on me, took blood from me and entered my cell.”

This is all news to Sam, who is shocked by what was done on behalf of Captain America. “How is it possible that no one mentioned it?” he asks Bucky, who tries to assure his enraged partner that Steve knew nothing about this dark chapter in the military past. “Are you telling me there was a black super soldier decades ago and no one knew about him?” It’s safe to assume that the world will know all about Isaiah, and his fallen brothers, by the time the series ends.

On Twitter, Marvel fans were delighted that the FAWS The writers pulled Isaiah out of the comics and into the MCU, noting how his presence appears to be intended to criticize the show’s heavy emphasis on the military.

Bradley’s story also has the potential to tie into one of the show’s main themes: the prejudice black heroes face even in the supposedly colorblind confines of the MCU. “It is a very important conversation that we are having all the time, but in particular, it has really become [forefront] in the past year: What does it mean for a black man to choose such an iconic white symbol? ” FAWS The director, Kari Skogland, told Yahoo Entertainment recently. “What does that mean for the character? It’s a real exploration of what we’ve traditionally established with this iconic red, white and blue, and now we’re taking it another way. “

It was not lost on viewers that Sam and Bucky walked out of their meeting with Isaiah directly into a meeting with local police, who stopped while they argued and demanded to see Wilson’s ID. The showdown is defused when one of the officers recognizes Sam as the Falcon, but his poor excuse – “I didn’t recognize you without the glasses” – doesn’t change the racially charged nature of the situation. The topicality of that scene won praise across the board, although some voices accused her of being too “awake.”

We’ll have to wait and see if the current Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), also has an encounter with Isaiah Bradley. After his brief introduction last week, Walker had considerably more screen time on “The Star-Spangled Man,” as viewers learned more about his experience and his particular skill set. Unlike Steve and Isaiah, Walker doesn’t have super soldier serum running through his veins. But that doesn’t make him a less formidable fighter: An early action piece shows him and his crime-fighting partner, Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett), fighting a group of Flag Smashers led by Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) after the team takes the Falcon and the Winter Soldier out of commission.

Of course, Walker ultimately doesn’t win that fight, and he certainly doesn’t win Sam. Despite his promises that “he’s not trying to replace Steve,” he and Wilson end the episode on hostile terms. “Stay out of my way,” Walker advises Bucky and Sam after they rejected his offer to team up to face the Flag Smashers. With an attitude like that, it’s no wonder fans aren’t eager to see him wear the shield much longer.

After Bucky’s encounter with Isaiah, the episode ends by causing another reunion: Bucky and Zemo (Daniel Brühl). The architect of Captain America: Civil War He is currently hanging out Hannibal Lecter-style in a Berlin prison, gazing at a chess game as a certain metal-bending mutant. As hawk-eyed viewers noted, his cell phone number is an Easter egg for another Disney franchise. Despite what Kevin Feige himself promised, it seems we have a Marvel-Star Wars crossover after all.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is currently broadcasting on Disney +.

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