Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (the Falcon). Photograph: Chuck Zlotnick

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has people talking. This TV series part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is just as popular, if not more so, than “WandaVision” which preceded it on Disney Plus.

One of the main reasons for the show’s buzz is its willingness to confront issues of race headon rather than only giving them a surface-level treatment or ignoring them altogether.

The show’s director, Kari Skogland, said it was critically important for the show’s authenticity to delve into what it would mean for show co-lead Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie), to potentially take up the mantle and title Captain America and the wield the iconic red, white and blue shield, one of the most iconic and identifiable symbols in comic book history. 

“We wanted Sam to engage in both a public and private conversation of what it means for a Black man to pick up such an iconic historically white symbol,” Skogland told Entertainment Weekly in a recently published interview.

“By starting off with his acknowledgment of how important it is as a symbol, and that it is connected to a bygone era, Sam opens the door to the idea that what defines a hero today is not the same ideal as it was when Steve first picked up the shield.”

Fans of the MCU are well aware that Wilson (the Falcon) was handed the shield by Captain America in the finale of “Avengers: Endgame.” The six episode series allows, enjoyable to viewers whether MCU veterans or newbees, does a great job of showing Wilson wrestle with what it would mean for a Black man to serve as the symbol of a nation where Black lives have rarely, if ever truly mattered.

Falcon was created by Marvel editor, the late Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan in 1969. Falcon often teamed with Captain America (aka Steve Rogers) in the comics. In a 2014 series, Wilson takes over the mantle of Capatin America. 

In the series, the viewer never forgets that Wilson is a Black man living in racist America. Wilson’s semi-celebrity status as a member of the Avengers, “Earth’s Mighties Heroes,” is not powerful enough to shield him from the everyday micro- and macro-aggressions Black people face. The show manages to show all this, while keeping the traditional Marvel action and intrigue coming, almost non-stop.

Anthony Mackie, left, and Sebastian Stan in a scene from “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” streaming Friday March 19. (Disney Plus via AP)AP

Still, Wilson and viewers are brought along for the ride and for his questioning of how Captain America’s shield, asysbol of freedom and justice for so many, can at the same time bring to mind for African Americans this nation’s legacy of racism and white supremacy.

-HuffPost Black Voices