Each Friday, Darren from @darrenmoviereviews will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the show’s overall connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s only been a week since WandaVision had its shocking finale, but the next Marvel show is only a week away. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiers next Friday, March 19, on Disney+ and Marvel fans will be treated to another six weeks of what is sure to be exciting television. While WandaVision gave audiences a new and exciting direction for the MCU, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier looks like a more familiar Marvel story that should be a thrilling adventure from start to finish. In terms of the Disney+ Marvel series, this one was my most anticipated when the initial wave of shows were announced because I am a diehard Captain America fan, and while I know we will not be seeing Steve in the series, his spirit and the intensity that defined the Captain America films will no doubt shape this series..
Both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes had a hard pill to swallow at the end of Avengers: Endgame: the unexpected goodbye they had to say to Steve Rogers. While Bucky appeared to have known what Steve was going to do when Steve took the Infinity Stones back to their original timelines when he told Steve that “he was talking all the stupid with him”, echoing the line Steve said to Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger, Sam was not expecting this. Sam was blindsided when Steve missed his time mark and lived out his life with Peggy Carter, returning as an old man to pass along his shield and mantle to Sam in a beautiful moment. This series picks up not long after the events of Endgame, and both Sam and Bucky will have a lot of emotions to unpack while teaming up and saving the world.
Bucky’s journey began back in the Second World War with the Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger. But after what we were led to believe was his untimely death while trying to save Steve from Hydra agents, we discovered in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that Bucky survived his presumed fatal fall and became a brainwashed Soviet assassin known as the Winter Soldier. While Bucky was being used as an assassin by Alexander Pierce to keep Hydra’s control of S.H.I.E.L.D. a secret, Steve broke Hydra’s brainwashing of Bucky. But this was not a happy ending for Bucky, as still wanted by the authorities, Bucky disappeared for a couple of years until he was framed for the murder of T’Challa’s father by Baron Zemo in Captain America: Civil War. There, we saw Bucky mend his friendship with Steve, which unfortunately drove a wedge between Steve and Tony Stark when it was revealed that Bucky had killed Tony’s parents and Steve knew and said nothing. Bucky then went into hiding in Wakanada, rediscovering himself and completely breaking free of his Hydra programming for good, looking to have finally turned the corner… only to be a victim of Thanos’ snap. So where is Bucky’s head exactly? I have no idea. Bucky is resilient and has overcome a lot of challenges in his past, but this will be the first time we see Bucky independently acting as part of a team in the modern world, so I’m sure there will be some adjusting for him.
As for Sam, his journey has been a lot different. Like Steve, Sam is an army veteran having served as a pararescueman and helping veterans battle PTSD when he first met Steve in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam teamed up with Steve and Natasha to help expose Hydra’s control of S.H.I.E.L.D., and then became part of the new Avenger recruits at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. During the events of Captain America: Civil War, Sam sided with Steve and helped recruit Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man to help Steve and Bucky escape Germany in the airport battle. During Captain America: Civil War, it was very obvious that despite having the same best friend, Sam and Bucky did not get along at all, and I don’t know if much has changed since then. Like Bucky, Sam also disappeared during Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War and returned to a changed world five years later. However, Sam was blindsided by Steve’s decision to not return to the present time line while returning the Infinity Stones to their timeline at the end of Avengers: Endgame. This emotional goodbye to Steve for Sam also had Steve passing the mantle of Captain America to Sam. While Sam was convinced that he was not worthy of taking up the shield and could not make Steve proud, Steve believed the shield fit perfectly, and we will soon know whether Steve was right or not.
While it will be interesting to follow Sam and Bucky’s development over the course of the series, returning to the political thriller style that was established in Captain America: The Winter Soldier guarantees that we will get a very different story than we just experienced in WandaVision. While I expect this show will be more straightforward and not packed full with fan theories such as the identity of the aerospace engineer and the big bad villain of the series, I’m certain that the series will entertain and captivate Marvel fans for the next six weeks. So as we wait until next Friday for the next Marvel adventure to begin, here are my hopes for this series:
- Sam’s journey to becoming Captain America. Fans of the comics know that Sam is one of the individuals who has taken up the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rogers, and while it will be great to see Anthony Mackie take on that role, I’m more excited for his journey to that point. From the trailers and promotional images, we have not seen Sam in the Captain America uniform, instead donning his Falcon costume. We know that the series will feature Wyatt Russel as John Walker, the United States government choice to take on the mantle of Captain America after Steve’s reported death during the battle with Thanos to give Steve the privacy to live out his life with Peggy. I assume by the end of the series we will see Sam take up the mantle as Steve wanted him to, but I’m more excited for the personal journey that Sam will go on to become the hero we all know he is capable of becoming, even if he does not believe he can honour Steve’s legacy.
- Sam and Bucky: the odd couple. While the Super Bowl trailer dropped a lot of footage for the action of this series, the most entertaining part was the counselling session between Sam and Bucky. We know that the characters are not the best of friends, but I am so excited for this character dynamic to play out during the series. It’s the first time in the MCU since the original Avengers and Guardian of the Galaxy films where we will see our characters clashing heads and having to overcome their differences and animosity towards each other to save the world. I think this is great for character development and will make for some great moments throughout the series. And based on the brief footage we saw in the trailer, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are going to be as fun to watch as they clash heads as Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans did in The Avengers, and I am here for it!
- Focus on Sharon Carter and Baron Zemo. While being prominent characters in the Captain America comics, neither Sharon Carter nor Baron Zemo got a lot of attention in the Captain America films. Even Zemo who was the main villain in Captain America: Civil War. Do not get me wrong, I thought he was a great villain and was one of the most sinister villains in the MCU because of how easily he was able to tear apart the Avengers without ever engaging them in battle. But this series will give the two characters the screen time they deserve. Zemo is back as the villain, hell bent on getting his revenge on the Avengers, and I cannot wait to see what diabolical situation he has for them this time around. I’m sure that Daniel Brühl will be brilliant in the role, and it will be exciting to see him wear the infamous purple mask the character wore in the comics. On the other hand, Emily VanCamp will get the leading lady role she has always deserved as Sharon Carter. While it looked like she was going to get a larger role in Captain America: Civil War after revealing to Steve that she was Peggy’s niece, but after some awkward romantic moments with Steve, she disappeared from the film and has not resurfaced in the MCU until now. It will be nice to learn something about her character as we have gotten to know very little about her in the MCU so far, and having her interact with Sam and Bucky should create some interesting group dynamics.
- The villain: the Flag-Smashers. The series will see an anti-patriotic group known as the Flag-Smashers as the villain of the series, with one of their members being Karli Morgenthau. Karli is a female version of Karl Morgenthau, who was the Flag-Smasher in the Captain America comics. I’m interested to see the story line that the Flag-Smashers are given because, with their anti-patriotic origin in the comics, it could make for a very interesting story. With one focus of the story being Sam becoming the next Captain America and the government trying to put forward their own man, I see a rich discussion of politics and race emerging over the course of the series with the Flag-Smashers as the villains. While Black Panther is the superhero film for black representation, the themes of race, politics and patriotism that are most likely to be explored in this series will be very different in context and could result in some rich thematic material to be explored in Sam’s journey to become Captain America.
- The larger MCU connection. While not every single MCU entry needs a connection to the larger story at play in the MCU, this series comes at an unique moment in the larger story of the MCU. We have just had the events of Infinity War and Endgame, with superheroes not only defeating Thanos but also bringing back half of the world’s population. Before the Snap in Infinity War, the Sokovia Accords were still in place and the American government was not happy with Steve, Sam, Wanda and Natasha teaming up with Rhodey and Vision to confront Thanos. But will we see some sort of change in the policy given what the superheroes have just accomplished, or will we see a further restriction of their operability? Given the political nature to Captain America in general, this is the perfect series to explore this plot point in the MCU as it needs to be addressed going forward. Further, will we see Sam emerge as a new leader within the Avengers to take on the hole left by Tony and Steve? And finally, we know that Rhodey will be making an appearance, but will we see some sort of setup for his newly announced Disney+ series Armor Wars? Only time will tell…
For now, there is not much more to say about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as we know very little the story of the series, but I am very excited to see the next story in the MCU begin next Friday. And as always, check back next Friday as I breakdown the premiere episode and provide some insight into where the story could be heading.