‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Uncovers Marvel’s Original Sin

This article captures what I love about some of the Marvel stories and why I was excited for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier to come out.

First, it’s the placement in the title. Although it is about both Sam and Bucky, The Falcon comes first. To me, that means a focus will be on the Falcon and his development throughout the season.

Then, you have the history and present-day issues intertwined in the storyline. They included how the government and/or police treat Black and White people differently. ~ V


[This story contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Epi2.]

How does the burden of truth differ between a white man and a Black man?

That’s the question at the core of the second episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Star-Spangled Man.”

Amidst Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes’ (Sebastian Stan) efforts to take down the Flag-Smashers, they discover the border-breaking organization comprises supersoldiers.

This leads Bucky to reveal a secret to Sam, one he kept even from Steve Rogers: America had another supersoldier that it used, and later abused, during the Korean War: Isaiah Bradley.

This all creates tension with America’s newest heroes, John Walker, the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) and his partner, Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar (Clé Bennett).

In 2003, Marvel Comics published Truth: Red, White & Black, a miniseries written by the late Robert Morales and illustrated by Kyle Baker. Within that work, it was revealed that Steve Rogers was not the first, or only, soldier to undergo Project Rebirth during World War II.

The U.S. government experimented on 300 Black soldiers in an attempt to re-create the supersoldier serum in 1942. What eventually became the supersoldier serum was originally intended to cull “less desirable” bloodlines, sterilizing ethnic groups and people with disabilities. The research later became the basis for the Nazis’ eugenics experiments.

Morales posited that the U.S. government and the Nazis had more in common than most would care to believe, and that both systems are a business founded on class control for the benefit of the white and wealthy., Following the death of his squad mates who’d also survived the experiments and body horror that came with them, Isaiah Bradley became the government’s weapon, facing all the obstacles but receiving none of the glory that Steve Rogers received.

And when the government was done with Bradley, they imprisoned him for 17 years for stealing Captain America’s uniform. They sterilized him and harvested his sperm and blood for further experiments, while denying him the treatment required for the side effects of the serum, leaving him with the mental capabilities of a child when he was eventually pardoned in the ’70s.

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