The Marvel Cinematic Universe brings its A-Game to the small screen as The Falcon And The Winter Soldier kicks off in stunning fashion
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.
Following in the footsteps of WandaVision could have been a daunting prospect. The twisted and unnerving sitcom-themed adventures of Wanda Maximoff and The Vision are a tough act to follow. But with Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson waiting in the wings, it’s game on for the title of the best Marvel series so far.
Of course, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier was originally conceived as Marvel’s launch series. The show to kick-start the next phase of the MCU. But with the COVID pandemic plaguing the production, the honor defaulted to WandaVision. But is the series good enough to lead the charge and supersede the birth of the Scarlet Witch?
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their respective roles as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. In the wake of “The Blip” and the sudden resurrection of half of the planet’s population, our heroes find themselves overwhelmed by the emotional impact of it all. Far from the idyllic suburban sitcom life of WandaVision, these tormented Avengers are on the same path. But on a different journey.
Now the custodian of Steve Rogers’ iconic shield, Sam Wilson has thrust himself back into the field of military espionage. seemingly launching into one daring mission after another. All the while, the long shadow of the shield weighs on him. Every decision he makes is governed by it. And ultimately, it is a mantle, and a responsibility he was unprepared for.
Bucky, on the other hand, is in a far darker place. The former Winter Soldier is haunted by the sins of his past. Tortured by the transgressions he had no control over. But, underneath the soul searching and his pathway to redemption, Bucky is struggling to come to terms with his greatest challenge. And that is to understand who he is without Steve Rogers by his side. Without a war to fight.
There is no denying that this series is VERY different in terms of tone and scale from WandaVision. And that is to the show’s credit. Clocking in at a delightful 48 minutes, the premiere episode taps into the essence of past Captain America movies. And although the loss of Steve Rogers adds a significant burden onto Sam and Bucky’s shoulders; the series manages to feel like an extension of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Minus the main hero. It oozes with the same vibe. A political thriller with a mystery at its very core. And yet, Chris Evans’ loss isn’t a predominant factor.
Perpetuating the connection with the Captain America series is the welcome return of Henry Jackman. The composer effortlessly slips back into gear and delivers another noteworthy soundtrack that harnesses many of the cues from past scores. And these familiar tones only bolster the connection with the events of past movies.
The brilliance of this series hinges on the performances of Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie. And I am delighted to report that they deliver noteworthy performances here. The often underrated Stan brings a new level of emotional weight to the role this time around. And he is allowed to explore the essence of his character in far greater detail than anything we have seen before.
Mackie on the other hand revels in the newfound freedom he has been afforded by the retirement of Chris Evans. Falcon is a more rounded character here, and the character development seen in the first episode alone makes it a “Marvel” career-best performance. And that only bodes well for future episodes. And this is before we even meet the strong supporting cast of Daniel Brühl and the returning Emily VanCamp.
As expected from the Marvel Universe, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is a treat for the eyes. The action sequences are just as intense as their big-screen counterparts. And the biggest compliment I can pay is that it feels like a theatrical outing and not a mini-series. The set production, wardrobe department, hair, and makeup teams bring their traditional authenticity to proceedings. Coupled with a serious upgrade for Falcon’s sidekick, Red Wing. The nimble little drone really comes to the fore in this series and outshines his master on a few occasions; which is sure to delight the fans.
Given that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is regarded as one of the best MCU movies ever made; fans are going to adore this series. Instead of feeling like a fresh new chapter, the show feels like an extension of the Captain America movies. A familiar territory that we can take pleasure in fleshing out and adding some well-deserved character depth to the main protagonists. Head writer Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland have set their stall out early to deliver a solid piece of Marvel entertainment. And judging by the strength of the first episode they have easily exceeded those expectations.
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is an emotional journey, a gripping triumph, and an absolute blast. One that fans will take pleasure in immersing themselves in. And that is an exciting prospect!
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is streaming exclusively on Disney+ Now!
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!