The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an action-buddy comedy. So we expect laughs and lots of explosions. It delivers on that but it also delivers some surprises. And in the second episode, “Star-Spangled Man”, we see Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson sit down for an on-the-fly therapy session. And two of the concepts used in the scene — The Miracle Question and Soul Gazing — are simple techniques used by therapists in various types of counseling. Couples should take note.
Very minor spoilers ahead for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2, “Star-Spangled Man.”
About halfway through the episode Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) are required to attend a mandatory therapy session in order to allow both of them to continue to do superhero stuff.
Because this is Marvel, the session is somewhat played for laughs, but it’s ultimately useful for the duo to confront their feelings. And in the session, Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino) uses some techniques she’d normally reserve for couples therapy.
Now, Dr. Raynor admits this isn’t ideal, and she’s also a fictional therapist, but still, the techniques she uses are both helpful for finding a connection with your partner. Here’s what she uses:
1. “The Miracle Question”
This is a thought exercise used in a variety of therapy. A therapist asks clients who are facing a problem to picture a future where the problem doesn’t exist anymore. What would they do next? This helps people going through hardships or stress focus on what they actually want, and what actually makes them happy. Usually, the goal in couples’ therapy is to point out that even if a “miracle” occurred, work would still need to be done to fix other problems. This one doesn’t go so well with Sam and Bucky, but it does indicate that they actually need to work on their relationship with each other, rather than imagining that problems simply disappear.
What looks like an intense staring contest is actually an exercise therapists use to help their clients truly see a person (and yes, you can blink). Couples are asked to sit face to face and stare at one another without speaking for five or ten minutes. The method is used to help couples feel grounded, build intimacy, and empathize with each other’s point of view.
Even though Bucky and Sam talk tough after the Soul-Gazing Exercise, you could argue that they do soften toward each other a bit. In fact, Bucky even admits that his anger with Sam is connected with the fear he has about his own insecurities. This is exactly the kind of breakthrough that is helpful for couples. If you see the other person, you might see that you’re not actually mad at them, instead, you might be projecting.
Obviously, a 3-minutes scene in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier can’t replace the real work that happens in a long-term, committed relationship. But, the cool thing here is that these Marvel superhero bros admitted, at least for a moment, that they needed to talk about their issues. For men who avoid therapy or discussing their feelings; the lesson is simple: If you did more things like this in your life, you’d probably be a better partner and parent. Let’s just hope that Bucky and Sam go back to therapy before the season ends.