The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Addresses Racial Profiling With Pivotal Police Scene in Episode 2

While The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is exciting Marvel fans by continuing the stories of Sam [...]

While The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is exciting Marvel fans by continuing the stories of Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), two episodes in it's clear that this isn't just an action-packed Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure. The Disney+ series is taking on some important real-world issues as well, especially in last week's "The Star-Spangled Man". In addition to introducing Black Captain America Isaiah Bradley and the horrific medical/scientific racial inequality and abuse he was subjected to, the episode also explored racial profiling in a pivotal -- and distressing -- scene.

Warning: spoilers for the most recent episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, "The Star-Spangled Man", below.

After visiting Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) at his Baltimore home in the hope of getting information about additional Super Soldier serums -- Bradley refuses to help because of how he was abused by the government for decades -- Bucky and Sam leave and Sam is pretty upset about never having known about a Black Captain America. The two argue in the street and as they are having their disagreement, a disagreement that is simply verbal and not even especially escalated, the police show up and immediately focus on Sam. Sam, and only Sam, is asked for his ID which he refuses to give and, in turn, the police imply that Sam is hassling Bucky which isn't the case at all. Things get tense until an exasperated Bucky demands of the officers "Do you know who this is?"

Almost immediately the police back off when they recognize Sam as an Avenger and while they end up arresting Bucky for having missed his required therapy appointment, the subtext is there. Had Sam just been an ordinary Black man, that confrontation could have ended in a very different and potentially tragic way as we've seen all too often in real life.

While this scene is perhaps the most direct instance of profiling and racial inequality that we've seen so far in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it's also not the first. The series premiere also offered a sobering look at how differently people can be treated by institutions due to their race. When Sam and his sister try to get a loan for the family business, they are denied. While one could argue various reasons for this, the scene also subtly highlights the barriers Black men and women face every day due to systemic racism the one here being that financial institutions are less likely to extend the same credit to Black clients as they would white clients in the same situation.

With attention being paid to these issues only two episodes into the series, it will be interesting to see how The Falcon and the Winter Soldier continues to take on this grim, but all too real, aspect of the Black American experience as the series continues.

Watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.

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