Only two weeks after the finale of WandaVision left a Mephisto-sized void in the hearts of MCU fans, Marvel and Disney+ are back with their second TV series in this new phase.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is absolutely nothing WandaVision, but that’s a good thing because it’s very much its own story with its own themes and tone.
With only 6 episodes, it won’t have as much time to tell its story, but it’s already off to a great start!
(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)
Two Lost Souls
The series opens with two protagonists in a very odd and uncertain place in their lives. Both having been snapped (or blipped) away for 5 years, they suddenly returned to defeat Thanos, and then immediately lost the best friend they shared.
As the world deals with the loss of titans like Iron Man and Captain America, Bucky and Sam are just trying to adjust to normal life. The former is regularly seeing a therapist (who absolutely steals the one scene she’s in) while trying to make amends for the many things he did as the titular Winter Soldier, and the latter is still doing occasional missions and running into familiar villains, but we also see him trying to find his place again in his family and their struggling business.
After seeing him help save the world, it’s kind of humbling and fascinating to watch Sam deal with things like family issues, bank loans, and the thought of having to sell a beloved family heirloom.
Likewise for Bucky, he’s going through the very same struggle we saw Cap deal with (the whole growing up in the 40’s and now suddenly being in modern day), but he doesn’t have the same support system or government assignments that Cap did to keep him busy.
Even something like going on a date causes him anxiety because he has no idea what to do, and (according to him) hasn’t had any “practice” since 1943. Although he does admit to his therapist that it is nice that for the first time in decades, he’s done fighting (although given the fact this series exist, that won’t last long).
In a surprising move, the two characters never actually interact during the entire episode, we just see them going through their struggles by themselves, but it perfectly sets the stage for them to unite and discover that they don’t need Cap to work together.
The Looming Threat
As Sam is somewhat involved with a military operation going on in North Africa (which continues into Switzerland), we learn of a threat from some political group, who preferred things during the blip, when half of humanity was gone.
We see them sporting the same masks that Zemo was in the trailer for this series, but the jury’s still out on whether they (or Zemo) will be effective villains. Honestly, you didn’t really need Zemo at all in Civil War, and in fact it might have been a stronger narrative had the Iron Man/Cap clash been purely philosophical.
And it does seem like he’s only being brought back because the audience will recognize him. But we’ll hold on passing any judgements until a few more episodes come out. After all, we didn’t even see Zemo in this episode at all.
To be fair though, the few action scenes we did get were pretty awesome in terms of pacing, choreography, and visuals. If this is just the start of what’s to come, then this series will be action packed and a lot of fun.
Of course, there’s no discussing this series premiere without mentioning the rather odd choice of the US government to debut a new Captain America to take up the mantle. Sam had previously turned it down, telling Cap that he felt like the shield belonged to someone else (at the end of Endgame).
The beginning of this episode saw him returning that shield to the Air and Space Museum, but now it seems to be in the hands of the new unnamed Captain America.
It’s unclear if this is just a publicity stunt with an actor, or if maybe he’s a secret villain. But it made for a nice mini-cliffhanger of an ending for the series premiere.
Thus far, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has delivered on its promise to give us more of the titular characters, and doing so in a way that makes them seem more human. Clearly it’s about to take off into typical MCU territory.
And while it will be fun to get a lot of great action scenes, hopefully the series remembers that it’s the quieter dramatic character moments like Bucky on a date, or Sam with his sister that really make us care about these characters.
What did you think of this series premiere? What do you hope to see in this series? Let us know in the comments!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming exclusively on Disney+