Title: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Release Date: 2021
Creator: Malcolm Spellman
Director: Kari Skogland
Production Company: Marvel Studios
WARNING: This review contains light spoilers, so if you’re sensitive to spoilers and not watched all 6 episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, please don’t read.
Much like its predecessor WandaVision, this Marvel series on Disney+ is set shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame and uses recovering the traumatic events of “The Blip” as the background to series. Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) were both snapped out of existence for five years and both lost one of their closest friends with the passing of Steve Rogers. As the series begins, Bucky is in therapy dealing with the murders he committed while brainwashed by Hydra. Sam received the Captain America shield from Steve, but determines to place it in a museum rather than take up the mantle himself. He also grows concerned about his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) being in a position where she needs to sell the family’s fishing business in Louisiana, but even as a superhero he can’t get credit from predatory banks.
The main antagonist in the series is Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman playing a character very similar to her role as Enfys Nest in Solo), the leader of an organization called the Flag Smashers who are fighting for open borders in the post-Blip world. Workers who were allowed to move to to more prosperous countries during the Blip are now being forced out. This is an interesting concept that relates to real life issues of refugee crises, but the goals of the Flag Smashers seem very muddled in practice, as if the show’s creators wanted to make them somewhat sympathetic but still keep the moral certainty needle pushed towards the shows “heroes.” Another antagonist is John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a U.S. Army veteran appointed to be the new Captain America when Sam refuses it. He’s an interesting morally-grey character because he’s arrogant, but also seems to be trying to do the best he can in the shadow of Steve Rogers. He eventually does turn heel, but then is far too easily redeemed in the final episode.
The series focuses deeply on issues of race and how Black people are treated inequitably in America. Sam’s reluctance to be Captain America is partially due to the fact that the colors of the American flag don’t represent Black Americans and that a Black Captain America would not be accepted by white Americans. Issues such as police harassment of Black people and the revelation of super soldier experiments on Black prisoners are covered in the show. The race issues are unnuanced and a bit simplistic, but on the other hand it’s a credit to Marvel for trying to address them.
The very busy six episodes also include appearances by anti-super soldier villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), Avenger James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), a fugitive Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), and member of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje Ayo (Florence Kasumba). The series serves as a transition for Sam and Bucky to set them up for future chapters in the ongoing MCU. I found it entertaining with some good performances, but it bit scattered storywise with too many plot elements packed in.
MASTER LIST OF MCU REVIEWS
- Iron Man – *
- The Incredible Hulk – **
- Iron Man 2 – **
- Thor – **
- Captain America: The First Avenger – ***
- Marvel’s The Avengers – ***
- Iron Man 3 – **
- Thor: The Dark World – **1/2
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier – **1/2
- Guardians of the Galaxy – ***
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – ***1/2
- Ant-Man – ***1/2
- Captain America: Civil War – ***
- Doctor Strange – **1/2
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – ***1/2
- Spider-Man: Homecoming – ****
- Thor: Ragnarok – ****
- Black Panther – ****1/2
- Avengers: Infinity War – ***1/2
- Ant-Man and the Wasp – ***1/2
- Captain Marvel – ****
- Avengers: Endgame – ****
- Spider-Man: Far From Home – ***1/2