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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (season 01)

Josh Reviews The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

April 26th, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the second MCU TV show to be released on Disney+.  In this six-episode mini-series, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles from the MCU as, respectively Sam Wilson (the Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier).  At the end of Avengers: Endgame, an elderly Steve Rogers gave his shield to Sam.  But as this show opens, we see that Sam doesn’t feel he’s worthy of stepping into Steve’s shoes as Captain America.  He thinks the shield should be put in the Smithsonian, but the government decides to give the shield to a new Captain America: a soldier named John Walker (Wyatt Russell).  Bucky, meanwhile, is still wrestling with guilt over the atrocities he committed as the Winter Soldier, and he’s hurt by what he sees as Sam’s shirking of the role Steve had given him.  Sam and Bucky are pulled together by the threat of a new terrorist organization, made up of people who feel disenfranchised and ignored following the return to existence of half of the world’s population (when the Avengers undid Thanos’ snap at the end of Endgame).

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a solid, thoroughly enjoyable series.  With WandaVision and now this, Kevin Feige & co. have successfully done what Marvel’s initial ABC experiment (which began with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the Marvel Netflix shoes were unable to do: create Marvel TV shows that are both entertaining and satisfying on their own, and at the same time fit seamlessly within the continuity of the MCU films.  This is an impressive achievement.

This show isn’t as groundbreaking as WandaVision.  That series was delightfully bold in the way it played with the conventions of the medium (of TV shows).  The Falcon and the Winter Soldier isn’t nearly as adventurous.  This is a buddy-movie action-adventure.  It’s fun and enjoyable but not exactly groundbreaking in its storytelling.  (And its finale was wobblier than I’d hoped… more on that later…)

Just as WandaVision was able to give Wanda and Vision the type of focus and character development they hadn’t been able to get as peripheral characters in the movies, so too is it fantastic to see Sam and Bucky get to step front and center here in this show.  Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan really step up.  I love these characters, and both actors really shine in the show.

I was surprised and impressed by the degree to which this series explored the complexities of the idea of a black man becoming Captain America.  No previous MCU project has come anywhere close to digging into such real world issues.  But showrunner Malcolm Spellman and his team used the story of this … [continued]