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The Pursuit of Power in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4

Each week, as new episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier release on Disney+, LTN writers will reflect on each episode. You can find all of their reflections here.

What is the end result of ultimate power? Is there anything wrong with desiring power? In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4, Zemo and others believe it will lead to a life of supremacy. Others, like Sam, believe it does not have to end that way. Perhaps it is less about using whatever power you have to your advantage, but instead using it to serve others.

While this series is not built around a simple good-versus-evil storyline, one theme has been building throughout, and it took center stage in this episode: the effects of power. Specifically, the new Captain America, John Walker, has a deep desire for power, and that desire is separating him from the original Cap, Steve Rogers.

Several times throughout the episode, we hear Zemo’s thoughts around power. His goal is to end all Super Soldiers, for he is convinced that “the desire to become superhuman cannot be separated from supremacist ideals.”

Zemo’s words seem to play out perfectly in Walker. The character-defining moments that transpired throughout The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4 left me with an incredibly uneasy feeling. Throughout this episode, he makes several significantly bad decisions, all connected to him acting on his impulsivity and growing desire for power. It all culminates in one of the darkest scenes of any MCU project, where Walker attacks one of the Flag Smashers with his shield, brutally killing him in front of a large crowd on the street.

As I witnessed this, I could not help but draw an instant connection to Captain America: Civil War. In that film, Steve has Tony Stark in a similar position but stops just before killing him. Instead of issuing a final blow, he shows mercy.

Even though Steve isn’t a character in this series, his spirit continues to permeate the story. Zemo even admits he was an exception to power’s corrupting influence. While he could have turned out just like Walker or the others, he chose a different path. In fact, many of Walker’s scenes depict him choosing the opposite of what Steve could do. So why is Steve different? Why is he the exception?

Even though Steve isn’t a character in this series, his spirit continues to permeate the story. Zemo even admits he was an exception to power’s corrupting influence. While he could have turned out just like Walker or the others, he chose a different path. In fact, many of Walker’s scenes depict him choosing the opposite of what Steve could do. So why is Steve different? Why is he the exception?

Dr. Erskine (in Captain America: The First Avenger) said Steve was chosen not because he was a hero but because he was defiant. Specifically, he always chose what was right even at his own expense. So Steve does not even fit Zemo’s example, because he never had a “desire to become superhuman.” It was just the right thing to do.

So is Zemo correct? Is the desire to become a superhuman directly connected to supremacist ideals? Do they only want to be gods amongst real people?

It seems to all come back to that simple word: desire. If a person wants power, the next question one should ask is “why?”. While Walker wants to be all-powerful and in control, Steve becomes Captain America because it is the right thing to do.

It is that same ideal that leads Sam and Bucky to believe they can reason with Karli to keep her from heading down that dark path. What she wants is right. As Sam tells her, though, she is going about it the wrong way.

Most of us have probably thought about what it would be like to be a superhero. Have you ever asked yourself why, though? Is it because it would be amazing to be incredibly powerful, to have everyone think of you as a hero, or is it because you truly want to help people and make the world a better place?

While none of us are Super Soldiers, we all have some level of power and influence. How are we using them? How are we making sure they don’t corrupt us? How do we keep from desiring more power and control? Maybe we follow Steve’s example and the Apostle Paul’s words in the second chapter of Philippians. Instead of desiring power and taking advantage of whatever power we do have, we should seek to serve others and do the right thing. If not, we may end up more like John Walker instead of Steve Rogers.





Steve is a Youth Pastor in Colorado. In addition to writing for LoveThyNerd, he is also the senior editor and podcast host for NintendoFuse.com. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @stevecullum

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