Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ is an action-heavy miniseries that is not afraid to interweave comic book adventures with conversations about institutional racism, Black America and how Black heroes struggle with marginalization despite their acts of heroism. While it revels in the buddy cop dynamic between The Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the six-episode series also packs an emotional punch that never feels like the show is punching above their weight.

In the last part of Avengers: Endgame, an elderly Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) passes the Captain America shield to Sam, bestowing on him the legacy of one of America’s finest superheroes. Sam is reluctant to take on the mantle of Captain America. Sam didn’t believe he was the right fit. Compounding his hesitation is Isaiah Bradley’s story as the Black Super Soldier who was betrayed by his own country and painfully experimented on. To the chagrin of his friend Bucky, Sam handed over the shield to John Walker, played with pure pretension by Wyatt Russell. John serves as a clear contrast to Sam, showing over the course of six episodes why he’s not the best replacement for Captain America.

The show’s heroes — and those who consider themselves heroes — are faced with a potentially global threat. The Flag Smashers, a group of young, masked radical antagonists led by Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), are seeking to take revenge on world leaders for the humanitarian crisis of re-homing billions of people who disappeared five years earlier as a result of Thanos (Josh Brolin) successfully wiping half of the universe’s population out of existence (referred to as “The Blip”). The post-Blip world has to wrestle with a substantial refugee crisis and displaced communities. There are certainly societal issues that the audience can relate to, but not at the breadth and scope the show attempts to address in between the fast-paced action sequences.

In their attempt to learn more about the Flag Smashers, the heroes travel to the fictional city of Madripoor, an island in Southeast Asia. Viewers are treated to stunningly gorgeous and elaborate scenes as Sam, Bucky and the ruthless, cunning Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) look for information about the mysterious Power Broker. After escaping from prison to aid Sam and Bucky, Baron Zemo tries to elude the Wakandans who are pursuing him.

But at the heart of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the relationship between Sam and Bucky. The bond they shared was Steve Rogers, who the characters repeatedly referred to as “gone” throughout the show. Bucky, who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of remembering all the killings he did as the Hydra-brainwashed Winter Soldier, finds respite in the friendship and camaraderie with Sam. At one point, Sam and Bucky spend time in Sam’s hometown of Delacroix, Louisiana with his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye), and they help Sarah repair the family boat, which she’s faced with selling. Sam calls in a few favors from his parents’ friends to help patch up the boat. Sam and Bucky watch as the community comes together to repay their debt of kindness.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier juggles many plots and subplots, but it does so rather seamlessly. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way including a special cameo that appears later on. Though it lacks the subtlety and intrigue of WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ preceding miniseries,the show excels in grounding the superhero genre in the real world and tackling inconvenient truths that add a surprising amount of depth.

Watch the entire season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.