MCU Phase 4 Discussion

Maybe, although it’d hardly be the first time the MCU changed a thing from the comics. I sort of suspect we’ll get Loki meeting his younger self and simply going ‘hey, kid, check this out [time travels]’ but who knows. Maybe Loki will just meet Hulkling or Noh-Varr. (I assume he will meet a Young Avenger.)

Falcon and The Winter Soldier ep 4: I’m actually surprised by how much critique of both America and military approaches to problems we’re getting here. Sam getting to be all “if you have to kill people to improve the world, you’re not improving it” feels super hypocritical from a man who literally started this series by blowing up a helicopter or two, and is actively employed in the US military, though. It’s also a bit of an about-face from Sam - in episode 1, he was actively cynical about the idea of “improving things for one group always making things worse for someone else”; but now he seems to be being fairly honest about being somewhat idealistic regarding the possibility of improving things for everyone.

(It’s also interesting that the series is harkening way back to Captain America: The First Avenger and Erskine’s note that “The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse.”.)

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Just watched last week’s episode, and I guess MCU lore question because I don’t pay enough attention to know this: is Zemo not a member of HYDRA in this canon? I know he’s got a sad dad backstory, but I don’t remember his whole deal. Because the conversation about Marvin Gaye and the Snap thing have Extra Weird vibes if he’s still meant to be a Neo-Nazi.

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In the MCU, Zemo is a former Sokovian special forces operative and actual land-owning baron whose family died during the final battle in Age of Ultron, and what brings him into Hydra’s orbit is his subsequent revenge quest to eliminate super powered people. Hydra has been spending decades trying to replicate the super soldier serum so they had no shortage of super powered agents for Zemo to assassinate, and in his globetrotting quest he has come to learn quite a bit of the organization.

So basically, no he isn’t any flavor of Nazi in this continuity, and seems actually pretty racially progressive. He’s still a terrorist that murdered the king of Wakanda, but Daniel Bruhl is just so good in the role that I’m liking his semi-good guy role in this show. Hey, if people can cheer for Loki after all the murder he’s committed, I’m ok giving Zemo a pass.

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He was given so little to do, relatively speaking, in Civil War that it’s nice to see him stretch his wings a bit here.

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I do like Daniel Bruhl, though the fact that I mostly associate him with his character in Inglourious Basterds does not help me keep the ‘Zemo is definitely a Nazi in the comics’ thing out of my head, and he’s got a great screen presence in this. I feel like it’s still a little weird for Zemo to get those lines regardless, but knowing he’s not HYDRA in the MCU definitely makes it less ??? and I’m happy to make up for how little he got to do in Civil War. I hope he is firmly a villain by the end, though.

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Fun fact: the dude playing John Walker (new Cap) is Kurt Russell’s son.

I haven’t been so “…but the ‘bad guy’ has a point though” since Black Panther.

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which bad guy? I am pretty sure that the Flag Smashers, since Ep 4, aren’t supposed to really be the bad guys, but more serve as antagonists to let John Walker reach his full awful potential via the end of Ep 4

The thing that really gets me about this episode is that they are setting up for a potentially really interesting juxtaposition of America’s fascist imperialist tendencies as embodied by John Walker versus America’s better angels embodied by Sam but the problem is Sam’s actions kind of make him a bad guy too. Kicking in doors and being a nice guy who just wants to talk to the budding revolutionary versus kicking in doors and demanding to arrest the revolutionary is a distinction without a difference to the people whose doors are getting kicked in, particularly given how fast something that looks like Category 1 can give way to Category 2.

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I can’t begin to understand what this series is doing with its sudden fear of superheroes. I guess I’m supposed to hate Wyatt Russell for using the Super Soldier serum? That was bad somehow? This is a fucking comic book world, I suddenly don’t like superpowers? It’s fine that the Hulk is the Hulk but Wyatt Russell legitimately needing a power level boost to do his job is bad? Falcon is more noble for not wanting it and being weaker? What? You know fucking Thor, dude! All of sudden restraint is in?

This doesn’t make any sense. It is comically ridiculous.

EDIT: And I cannot even with this series’ message of “maybe you’re right but you’re doing it wrong, so shut up Leftists, vote for Biden”.

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They’re setting up Steve Rogers as some ultimate paragon of virtue whose raw goodness was the only reason he could be entrusted to wield the Serum. John Walker took it for “selfish” reasons and therefore “can’t be trusted.”

My continual frustration here is that they have a lot of ingredients (and some very sharp writing!) setting up an interesting critique of America as it is (the last shot of today’s episode is one of the most interesting things the House of Mouse has ever let escape), but it’s constantly in conflict with the need to make Sam’s propagandistic optimism the “right” point of view. So all of that good stuff immediately gets reduced to strawmen when Sam has to come through and argue with them so he can be “right.”

I still think there’s a way to reconcile this (although it requires believing in Steve Rogers’s America, a place that only truly existed in propaganda videos), and that last shot from today’s episode is a big step in that direction, but a lot of people are going to need to go deep if they want it to actually work.

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I mean, I think Walker deftly proved his inability to be worthy of the serum almost immediately after taking it by letting his rage get the best of him. It’s not a new thesis for Cap, nor the rest of the Marvel (great power, great responsibility, etc). I don’t think it was necessarily bad that he took the serum in a strict utilitarian sense, but I guess I’ll let Stanley Tucci explain the ethics here:

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Is that the serum doing that or what a minute earlier when his non-serumed buddy got got. If New Cap hadn’t taken the serum he’d probably also be dead right now.

Maybe the guy is “unworthy” but it definitely is the right call if you want to be in this universe fighting bad guys. Otherwise you’re gonna get Yamcha’d.

Sure, if Walker wants to hang with the supers it makes sense to take the serum, but why did he need to hang with supers in the first place? From minute one the dude has made the wrong decisions, culminating in escalating Sam’s otherwise productive convo with Karli, and then walking into an incredibly obvious ambush that got his friend killed. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong that he took the serum and I don’t think the show really condemns him for it. The show instead condemns him for being a complete goober, which he totally is.

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He’s there because it’s his job. He’s an US Army operative on mission. The shield is in his hands because he was ordered to wear it by his superiors. He can’t just not hang with superheroes, he doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

I’m actually less sure what Bucky or Falcon are doing there since they don’t seem to be apart of any official chain of command (or even get a fucking paycheck, apparently), yet they’re still something like government operatives.

His job is to apprehend or neutralize the Flag Smashers. He could easily have slotted himself into a support role while Bucky and Sam (who is on a US government contract) handle the actual face-to-face with super powered humans. His ego got in the way because he wanted the glory and that ultimately was his downfall IMO.

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Re the morality of the super soldier serum - apart from the whole Erskine call-back which I mentioned earlier (so it’s unwise to take the serum if you think you have any particularly problematic parts to your personality, as it amplifies all parts of it), it’s worth noting that the main voice preaching the serum being all bad is… in-universe fanatic anti-superhumans activist and convicted terrorist, Baron Zemo. It’s not exactly like he’s a nuanced and balanced source of ultimate truth here!

(And it’s also worth noting that the Hulk - at least in The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, and up to and including Age of Ultron at least - is definitely not seen as being “fine”. It’s a terrible curse that Banner is generally extremely conflicted with - and who is literally weaponised by the enemy in Ultron - and causes significant threats to both the other “heroes” and villains in the first two Avengers movies. He only really becomes “okay” when Thanos enters play, and is a far more terrifying threat than Hulk is.)

[That said, I agree with DarthTythus in that the obvious thing they’re going for is that - due to the serum amplifying any “evil” within you - Steve Rogers was a paragon of pure virtue demonstrably as he didn’t have a dark side to be amplified. And hence Sam’s somewhat-hypocritical idealism is supposed to make him the only/best alternative.]

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