Three Moments in “The Star-Spangled Man” That Aren’t Being Talked About Enough

Allison DeGrushe
Allison DeGrushe
April 3, 2021

This past Friday, Disney+, and Marvel released the second episode of their new original mini-series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Directed by Kari Skogland and written by Michael Kastelein, this is the first to see Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) battling together. With the announcement of John Walker (Wyatt Russell) as the new Captain America (ugh) and the rebel organization the Flag-Smashers wreaking havoc across the world, the Avengers duo must work together to restore peace and a legacy.

Now, a lot happened in this episode. Yes, some events were more impressive than others; however, it’s vital to recognize the brief scenes. For myself and others, there are three fleeting moments in this chapter that, ultimately, prove the power of short-lived significance.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

In the most electrifying action section sequence of “The Star-Spangled Man,” a fan-favorite has faced its demise. As Bucky battles against the super-soldier members of the Flag-Smashers, Redwing dives in to help. Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), leader of the rebel group, notices Redwing shooting at her. In a matter of seconds, Karli grabs the drone and destroys him.

The sadness and shock were real but quickly dispersed once Bucky utters, “I always wanted to do that.” Sebastian Stan’s comedic timing is perfect here, but nothing can override the heartbreak felt after losing Redwing. To be frank, there hasn’t been much of a response to this scene — did everyone just move on? If so, please teach me, because I am hurting.

Though this moment was great, I think a higher level of emotion would’ve been achieved had audiences seen Sam reacting to losing Redwing. The two have been together for so long — where is the acknowledgment of losing his friend? It’s absurd to assume that Sam just up and moved on relatively quickly.

Rest in peace Redwing; you were always the most iconic companion. Maybe next time we see you, you’ll be an actual bird? Well, one can only hope I guess.

It is apparent that this episode, and the show as a whole, accurately displays what it’s like being Black in America.

Towards the middle of the episode, Sam and Bucky travel to Baltimore, Maryland. Bucky informs Sam that he has someone he wants him to meet … we’ll delve more into that later. Anyways, eventually, the two storm out of the house said-important figure and get into a heated discussion. The duo is literally just standing in the street, talking to one another, yet the police arrive and supposedly detect a tension between them. The officers begin pestering Sam, demanding he show his I.D. and passively threatening to arrest him. Once one of the officers politely asks Bucky, the white male, if Sam, the Black male, is bothering him, everyone has had enough. After finding out that the two are Avengers, the officers backed off.

If Sam wasn’t an Avenger, what would’ve happened? He potentially could’ve been in a life-threatening situation. The officers might have arrested him and roughed him up a bit as well. The treatment between Bucky and Sam is obviously different — it’s clear as day that it went down the way it did because of their contrasting skin colors.

For the MCU to echo the race relations climate in present-day America in such an authentic way is brilliant. It is crucial for a topic like this must be exposed in such an enormously popular franchise. Well done, Marvel, I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the future!

Now last, but most certainly not least, is the fellow Sam and Bucky met in Baltimore.

Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) is revealed to have served as a U.S. soldier during the Korean War. At one point, he came into contact with The Winter Soldier, and the two fought hard, leaving The Winter Soldier with a barely-there metal arm. Though the reunion between Isaiah and Bucky is pretty short, the scene is the most impactful in the entire episode. Isaiah recounts his past as a super-soldier hero. However, he is overcome by anger because of what happened to him. Similarly to Steve, Isaiah is a hero — but rather than being celebrated, what does he get? A 30-year prison sentence that consists of pure physical and mental torture.

Once again, the theme of race is addressed. Isaiah’s story has got to be one of, if not the saddest tragedy in all of the MCU. He was a superhero — he helped and fought for the people. Yet, he was never respected nor appreciated. After hearing Isaiah’s narrative, it’s evident why Sam chose to step away from Captain America.

How do you represent a country that has never represented your people?

In the more comic-accurate sense, Isaiah Bradley is the Black Captain America. He was a part of the super-soldier program during World War II. Since his introduction has arrived, that means one other person has as well. The young boy who let Sam and Bucky into the house has to be Eli Bradley, Isaiah's grandson. If you don't know, Eli Bradley is Patriot, a superhero apart of the Young Avengers.

If you’ve been keeping up with the MCU as of recent, then you know other members of the Young Avengers have or will pop up very soon. Tommy and Billy from WandaVision are Speed and Wiccan, Kate Bishop in the upcoming series Hawkeye takes on the mantle of the titular hero, Cassie Lang, the daughter of Ant-Man, is Stinger, and America Chavez, aka Miss America, will debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. So, it’s official — phase four aims to build a team of adolescent heroes, which means the Young Avengers are on their way!

You have no idea how excited I am.

One more thing — the fact that they showed Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and then immediately cut to the credits is straight criminal. Seriously?! The cliffhanger is real, and the anticipation is killing me. Marvel, you’ve done it again, constantly teasing fans and keeping us on the edge of our seats.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Be sure to watch the first two episodes before the third one premieres on Friday, April 2nd.