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There’s the moment when Sam [Anthony Mackie] is talking to Isaiah Bradley [Carl Lumbly], the first Black Captain America. Sam has to try to convince himself to be disillusioned of the reality of what America is to Black people, then still try to reckon with his place here.
He is a superhero. He is an Avenger. He has put himself on the line. And he is a symbol of America himself. He is facing what America did to Isaiah, and is still defending Steve [Chris Evans], but knowing what Isaiah said is true.
In the last episode, he sees Isaiah again, now that Sam has taken on this mantle of Captain America. Black Americans feel that thing of, “Well, this place has wronged us. How do you shill for a place like that?” But then also, “We live here. This is our country.” So maybe it’s about what it should mean versus what it does mean.
The show doesn’t say that Isaiah is wrong. It would be irresponsible and rude if the show was like, “See, Isaiah, it’s not so bad. Sorry for your experience.” It’s Sam saying, “This is what I have to do to move forward. I live here. I don’t live in Wakanda.”
Another piece I really appreciated was that his costume comes from Wakanda, so it is rooted in Black power. That’s a wonderful and beautiful touch.
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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