It’s telling that Warner Bros. moved up its much hyped Snyder Cut of Justice League a day early to avoid a streaming conflict with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s premiere. One episode down and it’s safe to say that was absolutely the right call.
Disney requested critics stay spoiler free for this screener episode so I’ll save the full episode breakdowns for the live viewing. While I’ll be largely vague for this one, I don’t think it’s a massive stretch to say this could be even more of a weekly obsession than the previous Disney+ MCU series WandaVision. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier promise a lot more action featuring arguably the MCU’s best odd couple.
It sounds funny, but going hard into the TV streaming side might have been Marvel Studios’ best pivot move in the post-Avengers: Endgame era. That’s allowed for deep dives into characters who were on the frontlines alongside Cap, Iron Man and Black Widow to now take the spotlight. While they’ve been around for 5-6 films, we’re now getting to know them beyond their connections to the original Avengers.
The personal focus is what truly makes The Falcon and The Winter Soldier such a solid experience maybe even more so than the action. That’s not to suggest action sequences are as rare as they were in WandaVision — Director Kari Skogland (The Handmaiden’s Tale) delivers two incredible fight scenes that would be just as comfortable as major set pieces on the big screen as they do on Disney+.
It’s crazy to think that we’re at level now where MCU TV shows have the same kind of quality as the films. I wonder what this means down the road and if audiences will be as invested in watching the film efforts knowing the Disney+ shows can devote more time to favorite characters without sacrificing the quality we’ve come to expect from the MCU in theaters.
Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are still trying to find their place in the world after helping to defeat Thanos’ forces after five years of being blipped out of existence. I remain fascinated with the fallout of The Blip and people trying to return to lives that moved on in the time without them.
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For Sam the big question is does he carry on the legacy of his best friend Steve Rogers and become the new Captain America? And with no wars left to fight, how does Bucky reacclimate to society for the first time in nearly 100 years?
There’s certain aspects to the first episode that shows just how strongly showrunner Malcolm Spellman gets these characters. From Bucky’s closest confidante to Falcon’s post-Avengers career choices. Everything feels right in line with what we’ve grown to know about Sam and Bucky. And there’s a few sensible appearances from characters we’ve seen previously in the MCU as well.
I love the intentional diversity of the supporting cast. F&WS is populated with characters that too often are ignored in terms of having their own subplots and agendas beyond serving the main character in some way. This was a very welcome sign.
The Flag Smashers, a group convinced the world was better off during The Blip, are set up as immediate threat although the political ideal of the proper symbol of Captain America might prove to be a bigger villain.
Not surprisingly, Mackie and Stan hold up their end of the series exceptionally well. These are two of the more prominent Phase 2 characters and are well-established already. There’s a comfort level both actors have with their characters and the series format allows them to show other sides to them beyond best friend to the world’s greatest hero.
At around 40 minutes (no post-credits yet), F&WS is longer than the normal WandaVision episode and goes just long enough that you’ll forget it’s a show when the episode ends.
Of all the announced Disney+ series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was the one I was most anticipating. This first episode more than met my expectations and it’s nice to know there will be more quality MCU entertainment to kickoff the weekend for the next five weeks.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+
Check out Sam’s adventures as Captain America in Captain America: The Sam Wilson Collection on Amazon.