The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is Chock Full of Idiot Ball Writing

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is perfectly entertaining, another placeholder in keeping the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the public consciousness. However, when you stop and think about the story, you'll find a lot of things that don't make sense and idiot ball moments. In case you were wondering, the term "idiot ball" was termed by TV series writers' rooms in Hollywood. It's about when a character in a story is written to do something staggeringly stupid – that no one in real life would usually do out of just sheer commonsense – in order for the rest of the plot to happen. A common refrain amongst the writing staff while breaking the story for an episode is "Who's going to carry the idiot ball this time?" This is not to say that the writers are stupid or think audiences are stupid. It's that the pressures of deadlines to have scripts ready for production can force some writers' rooms to cut corners creatively in order to get the show in the can. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier scripts might be another casualty of production pressures.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Why does Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) keep his damn smartphone turned on while he's on a high-risk undercover operation?! Anyone in his line of business would have known not to do that or have it on silent. All this so his cover can be blown when his sister calls to nag him about the bank loan and all the shooting and explosions can start. Characters in thrillers keeping their phones on or ignoring calls are the laziest plot beats in thrillers now and the cheapest shortcut for writers to create tension in TV shows these days.

But then Sam was absolutely bloody stupid for giving up the shield in the first place. Given that he knows how the government can't always be trusted in the past when he had to go on the run, it was beyond naïve. He could have just mothballed the shield or, as he said this week, destroyed it, or – here's a thought – given it back to Wakanda considering it was made with vibranium stolen from the country more than 60 years ago. Why didn't it occur to him to do that seems to be that the writers wanted to contrive the plot where the shield is given to John Walker (Wyatt Russell) to be the new Captain America.

Why was Sharon Carter (Emily van Camp) hung out to dry and left live on the run as an enemy of the state when Bucky (Sebastian Stan) got a pardon for the scores of people he'd murdered since the start of the Cold War? All she ever did was given Steve Rogers information about Bucky's location back in Captain America: Civil War. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and even Sam's admission of it does not handwave it away. It's another instance of "because we say so" from the writers' room.

Of course, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has to go to Madripoor. Madripoor never really made sense when you stopped to think about it. Chris Claremont originally created it as an Orientalist, racist distortion of Singapore, which is a legitimate democratic city-state. Madripoor is the exact opposite, a pirate rogue state that's completely lawless and corrupt, subsisting on crime, smuggling, and a black market economy. In practical, real-world terms, this is unfeasible and unsustainable without legitimate trade and diplomatic relations with other countries for essential resources. Singapore has one of the most thriving economies in the world from legitimate business and diplomatic relations, earning far more money legally than Madripoor ever could illegally, which seems to be the only way its economy operates.

Now Madripoor is in the MCU, only without racist stereotypical Asian bad guys. The MCU's version of Madripoor doesn't seem to have any evil stereotypical Asians in it. Who knows if the producers realized the comic book version was too racist and decided against having Asian stereotypes or if the fact that they were shooting in Eastern Europe meant there literally weren't any Asians around to cast. Instead, the MCU version is full of swarthy Eastern Europeans in tattoos and body piercings and black dudes wearing leather, which is a different kind of racist! And the place still doesn't make any sense other than as a setting for having chases, gunfights, and big explosions in.

The MCU is a Marvel version of everything movies and now TV. That there are so much idiot ball writing and just stuff that makes no sense just means The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is really just another TV show after all.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+.

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.