Episode four of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The World is Watching,” featured several pivotal fight scenes that were not only action-packed in classic Marvel style, but also quite revealing. In the heat of battle, previously hidden details were exposed that deepened the audience’s understanding of key characters.
Initially, fans reacted to the deadly ending of the episode that left Battlestar — Lemar Hoskins (Cle Bennet) — dead, and the newly enhanced super soldier Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), standing over the mangled corpse of a Flag-Smasher with the iconic vibranium shield covered in blood.
More recently, however, debate on social media has zeroed in on a confrontation from earlier in the episode that led to Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) losing control of his cybernetic prosthetic arm.
Bucky’s Vibranium Arm
The conflict in question, featured the formidable warrior from Wakanda, Ayo (Florence Kasumba), surprising Bucky Barnes by deftly activating a secret failsafe with several well-placed blows to his prosthetic, causing his metal arm to fall off his body. This is the very same prosthetic arm, made primarily of vibranium, given to him in Wakanda by Black Panther, King T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and presumably developed by vibranium tech expert, Shuri (Letitia Wright).
Evidently, the arm was designed to be overcome easily by those in the know, should the Winter Soldier revert to his HYDRA assassin ways. Was this hidden aspect of Bucky’s arm a betrayal on behalf of the Wakandans?
Actor Stephen Ford took to Twitter to argue that the secret failsafe was in fact a betrayal in his estimation, Tweeting:
“Okay but the Wakandans putting a built-in weakness in Bucky’s arm is like really messed up. It shows they never fully trusted him. He spent years trying to finally reclaim his autonomy, only to be undermined in an instant by those who helped. It’s just sad.”
His tweet ignited a debate caused his original tweet to trend on the social network.
Okay but the Wakandans putting a built-in weakness in Bucky’s arm is like really messed up. It shows they never fully trusted him. He spent years trying to finally reclaim his autonomy, only to be undermined in an instant by those who helped. It’s just sad. pic.twitter.com/fpIqpLdBtx
— Stephen Ford (@StephenSeanFord) April 12, 2021
For some context, at the end of Episode 3, “Power Broker,” it is revealed that Ayo and the elite Wakandan special forces unit, the Dora Milaje had been tracking Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Ayo had been hunting Zemo, who was responsible for the assassination of King T’Chaka, as depicted in Captain America: Civil War (2016).
At the end of that film, Bucky is entrusted to the custody of Wakanda at the request of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), beginning a rehabilitation period for the Winter Soldier. During this time, Ayo had helped Bucky get clear of HYDRA’s brainwashing. In a deeply emotional scene, featuring a memorable performance from Sebastian Stan, episode four reveals that Ayo was in fact with Bucky the moment he realized the Winter Soldier trigger code words no longer controlled him.
The Debate Over Bucky’s Arm & Ayo’s Secret Move
Many fans argued that despite their intimate personal relationship, Ayo was as justified in activating the failsafe, as the Wakandans were in creating the secret feature to begin with. After all, Bucky came to them as a one-man army – a relentless super soldier who had operated for decades at the direction of the world’s most powerful underground syndicate, HYDRA.
It could be argued that they’d be foolish to use their own precious vibranium to create a powerful weapon of war for a man with such a track record without security measures. In Falcon and Winter Soldier, Ayo wasn’t looking for a fight with Bucky but only disarmed him once Battlestar and Captain America John Walker interrupted, immediately turning the already tense situation violent.
Blogger Justice Namaste replied to Ford’s Tweet with:
“It’s hilarious that the argument here is that the Wakandans should have trusted Bucky enough not to create a way to disarm him when the only reason we even know about the failsafe in his arm is because he betrayed their trust.”
it’s hilarious that the argument here is that the wakandans should have trusted Bucky enough not to create a way to disarm him when the only reason we even know about the fail safe in his arm is because he betrayed their trust ?
— justice (@justiceaudre) April 12, 2021
Writer Michael King made an apt comparison to Superman and Batman’s relationship, Tweeting:
“Oh please. Batman is Superman’s BEST FRIEND and has walked around carrying Kryptonite in his utility belt for YEARS. You really think the Wakandans truly and fully trusted the man who murdered their king? Of course, there was a failsafe.”
Batman is Superman's BEST FRIEND and has walked around carrying Kryptonite in his utility belt for YEARS.
You really think the Wakandans truly and fully trusted the man who murdered their king? Of course, there was a fail-safe.
— Michael King (@mhking) April 12, 2021
Ford went on to clarify his comments, stating that his intentions were just to point out Bucky’s sad, lifelong predicament, saying:
“not really the argument but I couldn’t fit it all in the original tweet, like it makes sense that the failsafe is there and he betrayed their trust so it’s a justified warning, I just meant it from like a ‘it’s his body thing,’ nothing else. Just lowkey sad.”
not really the arugment but i couldn't fit it all in the original tweet, like it makes sense that the fail safe is there and he betrayed their trust so it's a justified warning, i just meant it from like a "it's his body" thing, nothing else. just lowkey sad.
— Stephen Ford (@StephenSeanFord) April 12, 2021
Many Twitter users took Ford’s side, arguing that this was less a debate about a secret failsafe, and more about bodily autonomy.
A user going by House of Moderna wrote:
“Removing a regular prosthetic without the permission of the person whose limb it is is also not okay. Why are you all working so hard to justify invading his bodily autonomy?”
Removing a regular prosthetic without the permission of the person whose limb it is is also not okay. Why are you all working so hard to justify invading his bodily autonomy?
— House of Moderna ⚖️♿️?? (@piratefoxy) April 12, 2021
Most Falcon and Winter Soldier fans agreed, however, that Ford’s take was, at best, poorly communicated and not very well thought out.
The consensus seemed to be that Wakanda reserved the right to take measures to ensure their own safety, and the security of their highly advanced proprietary technology.
Was Ayo justified in activating the secret failsafe in Bucky’s arm? Let us know in the comments!