Unlike WandaVision which lent itself perfectly to the episodic format of TV, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is basically a 6hr film chopped up into bite sized chunks and is effectively the fourth entry in the Captain America series as it pays off ideas and plot points first introduced in both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.
Before I go on, I will admit that I wasn’t looking forward to this show for one reason and that is the fact I didn’t like Falcon. I wasn’t really a fan of the character or Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of him and thought he was easily the worst Avenger, even worse than Hawkeye. However, whether it be more screen time or just better characterisation, Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson this time has really turned me around on the character so much so that I want to go back and watch some of his earlier appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see how they stack up when compared to this.
Both Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return to take centre stage in the title roles and we also see a number of familiar faces return to the fold as well such as Sharon Carter, Batroc and even a brief appearance by Rhodey but it is Baron Zemo’s return that set the internet ablaze and for good reason. Daniel Brühl reprises his role from Captain America: Civil War and helps give more depth and meaning to the character as his appearance in Captain America: Civil War always did feel like a missed opportunity for something great.
When it comes to new characters though, I’d be remissed if I didn’t praise Wyatt Russell’s performance as John Walker, which to me, is the standout performance of the entire show outside of the two title characters. Apparently a lot of the internet hates, and if that’s the case then he’s doing his job perfectly in my eyes. I hadn’t really seen much of Russell’s work prior to this show, but here he steals every scene he’s in and whether you love him or hate him you can’t deny the man has talent.
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the show picks up a few months later with the world dealing with the fallout of billions of people suddenly being snapped back into existence and what that means for the world moving forward. Much like the aforementioned Captain America films, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier deals much more with the political side of the MCU as it addresses a number of social issues including racism, humans rights and terrorism but it does it all while balancing the comedy, action sequences and tone that the MCU is known for.
As for the series itself, and much like the Captain America films it springboards off of, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a fun globe trotting adventure with a serious message at it’s heart but the whole show has the scope and feel of a big summer blockbuster and if this is the kind of show we can expect from Marvel moving forward, I wouldn’t against the idea of moving the entire MCU to Disney Plus in an episodic format. However, unlike WandaVision, I think this show is a much easier sell to your average viewer as it very much a continuation of the style and tone we all know and love.
I don’t really know what else to say at this point without delving into spoiler territory but what I will say is that while the show may be called The Falcon and the Winter Solider, it also serves as a perfect coda to the legacy that Steve Rogers left behind after hanging up the shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
by Edward Laing