The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is about to arrive on Disney+, marking the second entry in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its second go at television. Following the series finale of WandaVision, this is just the beginning of a whole new era of the MCU, and one that is coming at a faster pace than expected. Aside from cinemas reopening and the incoming theatrical releases of Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals, four more series are also headed to Disney+ just this year, Loki being the next in June. Thus raising the question within fans and greater audiences, what’s going to be the difference?
The difference having to do with format. WandaVision gave people a taste of what the MCU can do with say 5 hours instead of 2. But will all shows fall in the same line or will they offer more variety? And what’s to say that some shows can’t work better as films and vice versa? Luckily, we attended the global press conference with the cast and crew of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and director Kari Skogland addressed this vital question.
Having an outstanding career in television, directing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Walking Dead, Kari Skogland makes for an interesting choice to helm the next chapter in Marvel’s Captain America story. She talks on how she, studio president/producer Kevin Feige, and showrunner Malcolm Spellman approached adapting a cinematic tale like this for streaming…
“From the beginning, we were making a 6 hour film and just figuring out where to snip it at the certain hour marks. So Malcolm [Spellman] and I did a lot of looking at movies and shows, but primarily movies that were in our paradigm because we have a buddy-cop kind of relationship going on… I looked at a lot of different influences to help me put it into a box.”
She goes on to explain why they called it a “6 hour film.” Marvel fans, and comic-book fans in general, have been hearing such phrases ever since the genre made a boom onto television. The wording was especially said around the time of Daredevil and the Netflix era of live-action Marvel shows. Those days are long gone, and many are still not convinced that the phrase of a “5 – 9 hour movie” is justifiable enough when crafting television. Kari Skogland makes an interesting case though…
“I’ve been calling the movies, they’re like the snack and this is like the meal. You really can get involved with the characters in 6 hours in a way that you can’t in a film. The films are high octane already and they’re immersed in some world saving event. So it’s very hard to go off on a little tangent with a character, because the stakes are so high in one singular direction. But on a series you’re able to meander a little bit. We’re able to get inside the lives of our characters. We’re able to do a little more twists and turns that are a little less streamlined in the end…and also world build.”
The director then touched on some of her inspirations for the show…
“I looked at… David Lean. I looked at Midnight Cowboy. So I really go very wide and then try to put it in a pot and sort of stir it and come up with something that is uniquely signature for our look. It was important, I think, that we respected that we were going to be into peoples’ perspectives, and so we really had to go in deep character and be able to sustain that.”
Showrunner Malcom Spellman went on to name more direct inspirations for the buddy-cop aspect of Sam and Bucky’s relationship, specifically the Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon films. But going back to the point on why The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a series instead of a movie, he explained how they managed to tackle just about everything – from huge action set pieces, to political themes, to character growth – in 6 hours.
“We didn’t just tackle one episode at a time. We spent months just doing this… vertical storytelling is features [films], right? Features are compressed time and immediate action, they all build towards one event. A series allows horizontal storytelling. And the rhythm of the storytelling is completely different in that characters can befriend each other, fall out, and evolve in a much different way. So by focusing on that horizontal story… spreading across where these characters journey’s are going to be before we even know what the individual episodes do. It created that feeling… where there’s almost like this fabric that’s draped over the entire series.”
Funny enough with the Disney+ shows, the biggest questions fans have is exactly which ones can be expected to return in the long run, say for a second or third season. WandaVision proved to be a miniseries, as that story wrapped up nicely and paved the way for threads to be seen next in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange sequel. In regards to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this could go anywhere from the current perspective. Kevin Feige, as always, had an answer if fans could expect another season of this show.
“It’s a funny question and it’s one that we obviously get asked much more in television because people expect it to be like what people know before. We really did approach it like we do the movies… if we were able to do another one, there’s certainly ideas.”
“There’s no Mephisto, Quicksilver, or Reed Richards in this premiere, but there is a truly enrapturing narrative.” The Falcon and the Winter Soldier kicks off with a bang, one that will have audiences ready to come back for more. Will it benefit from being 6 hours long as director Kari Skogland suggests, and what seeds if any has Malcolm Spellman planted for a potential second season? Stay tuned on DiscussingFilm as the series progresses and more is revealed!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ March 19
Our review of the series premiere – An Action-Packed Deep Dive
Follow Managing Editor Andrew J. Salazar on Twitter: @AndrewJ626