The Falcon and the Winter Soldier director Kari Skogland says that Marvel Studios supported her drive to "push the envelope" when making the Disney+ series. During a recent interview about TFATWS's run, Skogland explained that when she approached Marvel, the show's racial discourse was at the forefront of her mind: "I came in saying ‘This is most important conversation to be had, through entertainment, of this century’ and I think everybody understood from the get-go. There was never any concern about the IP of it or any of that. They just take on great stories and they tell great stories."
As Skogland further explained to Fandom, Isaiah Bradley's (Carl Lumbly) storyline with Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) was really the heart of the racial and social discourse she wanted to explore:
"This became a wonderful touchstone for Sam to explore – to have a Black man tell him ‘no self-respecting Black man is going to pick up that shield’ and to have a really strong sense of community rejection potentially, so that he understood the magnitude of what could happen from that side of the fence. I think the only person who could’ve said that was Isaiah."
In her full explanation of how Marvel Studios rose to the occasion of taking on challenging topics like race, Skogland had nothing but praise to share:
"Marvel’s never shied away from important topics and they’ve never shied away from pushing the envelope, so from the beginning, even the very first time we talked about the project, I came in saying ‘This is most important conversation to be had, through entertainment, of this century’ and I think everybody understood from the get-go. There was never any concern about the IP of it or any of that. They just take on great stories and they tell great stories. That’s their only objective, at least that’s been my experience, so as a result we were encouraged to push the envelope and not hold back. I hugely respect Marvel for that position."
Without a doubt, there were a lot of Marvel fans that were caught by surprise when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier veered into such timely and sensitive subject matter. It was apparent from the very first episode, and the now-infamous scene of Sam Wilson trying to get a bank loan - and continued through the debut of Isaiah Bradley and his Truth origin story making their debut in the MCU. Now, it feels like the franchise in some ways can't go back to ever being fluffy escapism, ever again.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+.