Following the events of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios has found themselves in an interesting position. The departure of Chris Evans as Captain America begs the question: who will wield the shield next? Almost two years later, Marvel is ready to answer that question with their second go at television, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. What’s the answer? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than one may think. The only thing that isn’t complicated: this series is fantastic.
Every year, more and more projects are announced for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the addition of Disney+ has only caused that number to grow. With this rapidly increasing list of stories, fans have been rightfully concerned with over-saturation and franchise burnout – a fear that has been on the table since Phase 2 of the MCU, but has been miraculously avoided thanks to captivating storytelling. With WandaVision ending only two weeks ago, will audiences be able to maintain interest in another Marvel television series? Luckily, the latest endeavor serves as a completely different experience from the last, keeping fans and general viewers alike enthralled in the every-growing universe.
After nearly a decade of having Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers front and center, getting to see Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) get the focus they deserve is absolutely incredible. In the span of a 47 minute premiere, the two “sidekicks” are given more development than they have received in the last three Phases of the MCU, thanks to layered writing as well as the best performances from Stan and Mackie yet. This will only grow with the rest of the series as the two’s chemistry is placed at the forefront. The duo receive equal time in the spotlight in the premiere, and this is undoubtedly their story.
The series premiere doesn’t just focus on character development; if one’s favorite thing about the MCU is action, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier certainly won’t disappoint. The show opens with a action set piece that truly shows that there is zero downgrade from the cinematic scale of the films when moving to television. The thrills delivered are some of the best seen from these characters, and if that’s not enough, there’s an intense Bucky Barnes-focused fight that calls back to the days of the highway fight seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the premiere is its handling of a post-Endgame world. One of the things people have wanted to see the most is how more corners of the MCU responded to the “Blip”. There were glimpses of this in Spider-Man: Far From Home and WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier goes even further on the ground-level. Instead of seeing high-level government agencies enforcing security and safety protocols to deal with a potential rogue Avenger, fans see a family struggling to keep their business afloat after five years of no income. Real issues are presented and add an unprecedented thematic layer to the show. The right kind of surprise to expect from an MCU series, this is but a taste of what else could develop in the incoming episodes. Although, fans shouldn’t slip into what they did with WandaVision and create false ideas that only lead to disappointment.
Just within its premiere, the series already introduces multiple new characters and storylines, and all are welcome additions. The highlight is absolutely that of Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez), whose chemistry with Mackie is sure to be a major talking point of the season. Although their focus is minor in the opening hour, the Flag-Smashers prove to be interesting opponents, and they are undoubtedly going to be one of the biggest points of speculation as the show’s mysteries unravel.
However, like any show should, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier doesn’t over deliver right from the start. Instead, showrunner Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland choose to keep the titular characters’ personal lives as the focal point, and for good reason. Obviously, major threads are set up, but the entire episode is devoted to expanding its leads, and it’s only going to make this show stronger as viewers build deeper connections with these heroes before they are thrust into an epic adventure. There’s no Mephisto, Quicksilver, or Reed Richards in this premiere, but there is a truly enrapturing narrative held up by two protagonists people will find themselves immediately connected with.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sets up a riveting new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with some of the best character development seen yet, as two underrated stars finally get what they’ve deserved for years. With great characters, spectacular action, and a story that is sure to keep audiences engrossed over the course of its six-week run, Marvel Studios is sure to have another hit on their hands. Of course, Twitter will have a lot to say. Maybe everyone will love it and there will be no discourse?
Yeah, just kidding.