Spoilers below for the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so be warned!
With its third episode, fittingly titled "Power Broker," The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brought back not only the already anticipated Emily Vancamp as Sharon Carter and Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo, but the MCU drama also dropped a doozy of a surprise by bringing Florence Kasumba back as Wakandan guard Ayo. However, the coolest reference had little to do with Marvel itself, and everything to do with the Prince of Motown himself, Marvin Gaye, and that callback namedrop was all the more special in that it occurred on the soul icon's birthday.
Marvin Gaye fans everywhere are celebrating his April 2 birthday by posting many of his classic tracks on social media, and many are still unable to fully come to grips with the senselessly violent circumstances surrounding his murder. But it was only good vibes on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – well, mostly good vibes, anyway. Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson was indeed downright disturbed by the lack of adoration wafting off of Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes whenever he referenced the Captain America: The Winter Soldier moment when he first recommended Marvin Gaye's 1972 album Trouble Man.
In the first half of the episode, a reluctant Sam and Bucky are traveling with Daniel Brühl's dead villain Zemo on the latter's private plane. And while Zemo is mostly fitting into a protagonist mold, he falls back on devious patterns by swiping Bucky's little notebook with his list of names. And while the latter nearly went into Winter Soldier mode all over Zemo's face, Sam brought levity back into the plane by pointing out the notebook used to belong to Chris Evans' Steve Rogers – who may or may not be on the moon – and recalled when Steve jotted down the note to listen to Marvin Gaye's largely instrumental Trouble Man soundtrack.
Sam then made the mistake of asking Bucky what he thought about Trouble Man, and the latter hilariously responded by reminding everyone his fandom lies with music from the 1940s. To be fair, Bucky tried to say that he did like Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man, but he was about as convincing as a window saying it can block the sun. At which point even Zemo spoke up and called the album a complete and comprehensive masterpiece. Much as Sam wanted to tell Zemo to stay out of it, he acknowledged the villain's praise as legit.
After Bucky failed once more to convince anyone that he is a Marvin Gaye fan, Sam brought it back to the O.G. Captain America clearly having better musical taste.
Even though Marvin Gaye isn't around to appreciate it (assuming he would in the first place), I imagine it's a pretty sweet birthday gift to have one of the biggest TV shows on streaming to formally declare Captain America being a huge fan. Even if Bucky is more on the meh side of things, as Bucky tends to be.
All things told, it was kind of an awkward moment for that topic to come up, seeing as how Sebastian Stan's character was already stressed out and just had his notebook stolen, so he probably wasn't in the precise mood to talk about his fandoms. (I mean, unless someone wanted to talk big band era tunes.) But I bet if Sam mentioned that the new Captain America John Walker was a Marvin Gaye fan, Bucky would have punched a hole through the plane wall. Everybody just loves that John Walker, amirite?
We'll continue to take all our MCU music advice from Sam Wilson, and ma-a-aybe Zemo. Oh, and James Gunn. But that's it! Now let's all take a minute to reflect on the excellence of Marvin Gaye and send the late legend some good thoughts.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs Fridays on Disney+, but there are only three episodes left to go, so here's hoping Anthony Mackie's Falcon will be "Flyin' High (In the Friendly Sky)" by the time all is said and done.