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There’s a huge problem with ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ that no one’s talking about

Published Apr 2nd, 2021 2:27PM EDT

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Halfway through WandaVision, I told you what the show had a glaring plot hole: there were absolutely no Avengers ready to come in and help SWORD deal with the Westview situation. That was even more annoying given the timeline of events, as WandaVision takes place just three weeks after Endgame. I expected Marvel to “fix” the situation in the second half of the show, as one Avenger was rumored to show up in the finale. But Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) never made it. That was even more annoying once we learned that an unknown witch named Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) came to Westview after detecting the energy from Wanda’s magic.

It all seemed as if Marvel went out of its way to hide the Avengers without explaining why more professional help wasn’t available to the authorities assisting in Westview. Marvel’s boss Kevin Feige did say that the TV shows aren’t mandatory for understanding the movies, but WandaVision was too far removed. Fast forward to the middle of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the show suffers from a similar plot hole. This time, Marvel is going out of its way to hide another normal behavior you’d expect from the main characters. Some spoilers follow below, so make sure you’ve caught up to Episode 3 before scrolling any further.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set six months after the events in Endgame, at a point when the world is still scrambling to get back to some sense of normalcy after billions of people were returned to life. The Avengers beat Thanos at substantial personal cost, but not everybody sees it as a victory.

The show focuses on Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) coping with the aftermath of Endgame on various personal and professional levels. Both of them have their demons to deal with after returning to life and experiencing the loss of their best friend in the process.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) in a Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1 scene. Image source: Marvel

But Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) isn’t dead. Marvel addressed the matter in the show’s first episode, during that touching event honoring Steve’s legacy. The scene didn’t feel like a funeral, and there was no mention of Rogers being dead. We learned that he had retired after that final battle against Thanos and after losing Tony Stark.

This brings me to Falcon’s glaring plot hole. Sam and Bucky seem to go out of their way not to talk about Steve in the present tense. They do reference him during several hilarious exchanges, but also when they’re serious. Stan does an amazing job expressing Bucky’s feelings about Sam’s refusal to take up the Captain America mantle in that emotional couples therapy session. Bucky is afraid that Steve might have been wrong about Sam, and if that’s the case, then Steve might be wrong about him as well.

That’s a heartbreaking realization. It’s these sorts of scenes that prove why Marvel’s Disney+ shows have such great potential. They’ll reveal character details that might not surface in big blockbusters, as the TV series will capture more moments from the daily lives of superheroes that don’t involve any sort of action.

Three episodes into the show, Sam and Bucky never address the elephant in the room. They’re not just Steve’s sidekicks, they’re his best friends, so they should still talk more about a man who we know isn’t dead. That’s what happens in regular life.

Neither Sam nor Bucky wonder what Steve would do in any situations, nor do they try to reach out to him for guidance. They were both blipped away, but Steve wasn’t. He might be old now, but he lived on this broken Earth for five years between Infinity War and Endgame. He might have the kind of intelligence at hand that supersedes Zemo’s (Daniel Brühl). Steve might be in a better position to explain some of the bad stuff that happened in the past five years, or at least point them in the right direction. Take Madripoor, for example. That’s the kind of place that Natasha’s Avengers must have kept an eye on between the blips.

They don’t even say anything to show us that they’re worried about Steve. Rogers is an old man, like Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumby), whom Sam just met. He might not experience the same effects of old age as regular people, but Steve is now much older than Bucky, who is 106. Close friends who have just experienced their pal going from a mid-30s looking man to an elderly man in a matter of minutes would inevitably worry about his well-being. There’s no “I wonder if Steve’s okay” in their dialogue. No “have you talked to him recently?” or “I wish I could just give him a call.”

This is what you’d expect to hear from Steve’s closest friends during the regular day-to-day interactions that the show is trying to capture. Even more so when they’re trying to beat a group of antagonists who all seem to have Steve’s powers.

Chris Evans as Captain America in AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Image source: Marvel

On top of all that, Sam and Bucky don’t even wonder what Steve would have said about Walker (Wyatt Russell) becoming Captain America. Again, it all seems like Marvel went out of its way to avoid having to reference Rogers in relation to the current action.

The simplest explanation is that we have to let Rogers go. Sam is likely going to be the new Cap, and Bucky will continue his quest to heal and achieve redemption. Not to mention that Steve deserves his retirement. And both Mackie and Stan deserve the spotlight of an MCU show. We wouldn’t want Steve eclipsing any of the great action we saw so far, because that’s what could happen. WandaVision just showed that a great cameo such as Evan Peters’ Quicksilver can do more harm than good.

There’s also another reason why Marvel might not want to reference Steve. The studio probably wants to keep the mystery intact. Is Steve on Earth? Did he go back to his alternate timeline? Can the Avengers contact him if needed? But the writers could still have crafted unrevealing dialogue to avoid spoiling any secrets. The characters could still talk about Steve as if he were alive, without offering any clues as to where he is or what he’s doing.

Even the fact that Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) doesn’t talk about Steve is troubling. She was more than a CIA agent for him.

That said, we still have three episodes to go, with Episode 5 expected to offer some sort of surprise cameo, as well as very emotional developments. There’s still time for this glaring The Falcon and the Winter Soldier plot hole to be fixed.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.