After six new episodes releasing every Friday, the entirety of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is available on Disney+.
The new Marvel Cinematic Universe series picks up where “Avengers: Endgame” left off. The world is still recovering from the effects of The Blip.
The first person seen in episode one is the Falcon himself, Sam Wilson, portrayed by New Orleans native Anthony Mackie. But the first voice we hear is none other than Steve Rogers, as the dialogue flashes back to the passing of the shield in “Endgame.”
Steve’s absence looms large throughout the series, especially when his poster is on Sam’s left at the Smithsonian Museum.
Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes enters the picture later.
Minus one action-packed scene, the first episode mainly serves as the groundwork to set up and further characterization. In fact, the two title characters never cross paths.
Sam spends time at home with his sister and nephews in Delacroix, Louisiana, continuing the trend of humanizing the hero that started in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (yes there is an LSU shoutout). Likewise, Bucky is in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, attending therapy and making amends.
While I was excited for more Marvel content, I admit, I initially had my doubts about another series. Much of the appeal from Marvel movies comes from the big three hyphens: fast-paced, high-stakes and action-packed. The 50-minute episode format seems to take away a bit of the punch of the pilot, but don’t be discouraged. The series gets better at condensing all of the elements that make a Marvel movie blockbuster into these shorter jabs.
It becomes fast-paced, high-stakes and action-packed. The banter is witty and quick. The tension is built. The fight scenes are plentiful. But the plot also grappled with deeper themes like trauma, social justice and power.
In a movie about superheroes, of course power comes into question, but the idea here transcends superhuman abilities and super suits, getting into the ethical nitty gritty of influence.
As Sam says in his episode-six speech about power, “The question you have to ask yourself is: How are you going to use it?”
Seeds of that question have arguably been around since Stark Industries in “Iron Man.” Another branch of the question comes from “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has several Super Soldier Serum debate scenes reminiscent of Steve and Dr. Erskine’s pre-procedure conversation.
That’s what gets me with Marvel. The continuity.
The parallels between plots and characters are undeniable and recognizable. From the nuanced similarity between the newly introduced antagonist Karli Morgenthau and the Maximoff twins—particularly when Sam insists Karli is just a child—to Sam and Bucky’s perpetual argument over leg room in cars, which started back in the “Captain America: Civil War” days.
The echoes don’t stop there. If you remember Steve’s opening fight scene with Georges Batroc in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” you’ll appreciate Sam’s fight scene with Batroc in episode six of the “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” even more. Not to include spoilers but think about those titles and Sam’s new role.
Batroc is not the only familiar face you’ll see in the show. There’s War Machine, Zemo and Sharon Carter. I think my favorite scene out of the whole series comes in episode four when Ayo and the Dora Milaje make an appearance.
In addition to these movie masters, several “new” characters debut that comic lovers will likely recognize, including Joaquín Torres and Isaiah Bradley.
With “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” season finale, how the storyline will be continued is yet to be determined. Depending on the source, you can find rumors of a season two or even a new movie, but whatever the format, there is no question that there will be more. The last two episodes have post-credits scenes. Be sure to stick around. And the final episode leaves unanswered questions, setting up several open pathways to continue.
Overall, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” writers did an amazing job managing the aftermath of “Endgame” and making a smooth transition for two beloved supporting characters to become leads. While I’m excited to see where this new MCU phase leads us, I can’t look ahead without nodding to the past. The series gets a 4/5 because one star will always be reserved for Steve Rogers.