I’ve been a Marvel comics fan since I’ve been able to turn the pages without tearing them. Certainly before I could read. I’m also a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Seeing characters and stories brought to life on the silver screen has made me smile more than a few times. WandaVision blew my mind during it’s 9 episode run, and I am writing a blog post for that series too.
What I want to address, and I haven’t seen anyone else comment on this yet, is a scene from the Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This is a full on spoiler alert for episode two. If you haven’t seen it and plan to, skip the rest of this post. With that warning out of the way…
Sam and Bucky visit the first black Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. I won’t go into a lot of details about Isaiah, that could be a whole blog post by itself. I will say that his story is tragic from any perspective and a commentary on how the U.S. Government and military have treated African Americans. The visit does not go well. Sam and Bucky end up arguing in the street (it is intentionally not even much of an argument).
Here comes the truth bomb. While they are (heatedly) talking, Baltimore police show up. A black man and a white man are out in public (peacefully) disagreeing. The police immediately ask the white man if the black man is bothering him. Bucky is outraged (for us) that the cop doesn’t recognize Sam. Then the first cop’s partner whispers their identities in his ear. Credit to the actor, he does a spot on interpretation of a man who realizes his mistake too late.
Neither Sam nor Bucky are fazed by this. They don’t go on a rant about racial profiling or police assumptions about race in community policing. The commentary is all for the audience. We see a rare moment where super-heroics meets a real world scenario that all too often ends in injustice.
The scene is brief and ends with a warrant issued for Bucky. In a full reversal, the white man is arrested. A subtle means of turning the situation on its head. The rest of the episode, I couldn’t help but return to those few seconds. We got to see, through the lens of the main characters, an unexpected scenario of inequality.
Marvel has a history of exploring injustice and inequality in the comics. This may be one of the first times I’ve seen the MCU tackle this subject. Even on the small screen. Even without fight scenes, super powers or explosions, this truth bomb will keep me coming back for more. I only hope I can address injustice and inequality with such nuanced, realistic portrayals.