The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, at its core, has that texture of realness we have seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War. In both those films, especially in Civil War, the story had that perspective to look at the practical implications of the acts we have seen in that particular universe. The idea behind The Falcon and The Winter Soldier also comes from a similar space, and it touches upon many areas that are relatable in this era too. The series format is used very effectively to etch out characters who were never really given much space in the MCU.
The story is set after a few months of the events we saw in Avengers: Endgame. Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, is going through this dilemma of whether he is worthy of carrying the shield, and he eventually returns it to the government. Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, isn’t really happy with Sam’s decision. Through the aid of Sam, they get to know about this massive rebel group named the Flag Smashers, who have been gathering support. The group stood for those who got left out after the chaos happened due to the return of several people after the blip. The efforts of Bucky and Sam to take down this group and what they learn in that process are what we see in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
The series starts off looking like a mere extension of the movie format. You have a set piece that sort of takes you to this world of superhero missions and stuff. But it is probably by the time the series reaches the third episode one could see the writing starting to emphasize more on emotions rather than the gadget sophistication of the whole setup. They begin to dig into the personal space of each character. They want Sam Wilson to be the next Captain America, and he needs to have a heart for that. So the parallel you see between Wilson’s sister and the Flag Smashers becomes solid reasoning for making him a man with empathy rather than an obeying soldier. The rift between Tony and Steve was also due to this quality of mind to think about the other. There is one more layer of conflict added to Falcon’s dilemma when he comes to know about a war veteran named Isaiah Bradley. This layer was particularly affecting due to the contemporary political climate in the US.
The conflict creation around the characters is what makes them more and more humane. Bucky is going through therapy sessions after the government pardoned him. And we have him following his best friend’s tactics in his quest for closure. Malcolm Spellman and Kari Skogland, the creator and the director of the show respectively, have made sure that the output becomes a collage of memories and a promise to evolve positively. The character of Karli Morgenthau has so many layers that you can’t simply stand against her. The writing uses that character to take the whole show to take a political stand. The refugee crisis has always been a burning issue in almost every part of the world, and a non superhuman hero urging people in power to be more accepting is excellent to watch in a show that has an enormous fan base. The new Captain America they have introduced is going through a grey patch in this story, and that sort of adds a sense of depth to that character who was initially on the flatter side. In terms of the MCU development, also we get to see certain links that will intriguingly expand the franchise.
The beginning areas of the series are in a similar space to the movies. I found the visual effects of the series on the tackier side for those fights on the truck. Whenever the series emphasized fights and set pieces, technical aspects such as cinematography and edits were going a bit haywire. But the good thing or the comforting thing here is that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is never a set piece-driven show. They know that the viewers are not going to witness a giant screen experience for this and thus, what you get to see is a drama that introduces characters to keep us guessing about the plot. From Zemo to Sharon, they have added the existing characters seamlessly into this plot that had this soul purpose of launching Falcon as the next Captain America.
Anthony Mackie has that same enthusiasm in him in being the Falcon. The show offers him a space to show us various dimensions of that character. Being a brother, being a colleague, and being a black man with no superpowers, Mackie portrays all those aspects of the character very neatly. Sebastian Stan and Bucky also get a space here to humanize the largely monotonous Winter Soldier character. Bucky is in search of peace, and Stan manages to internalize that pain. As the revenge-seeking new Captain America, Wyatt Russell becomes an interesting character after a point, and it will be exciting to know how Marvel will be taking that character forward. Erin Kellyman, as the angry and empathetic Karli Morgenthau, delivered a solid performance. Daniel Bruhl as Zemo was mainly on the funnier side this time (did Joss Whedon visited the sets those days?). Looking at the way the series has ended, Emily VanCamp as Sharon might well have a significant role in the future of MCU.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was pretty much a launchpad for The Falcon to be the next Captain America. But in the process of assigning him the quality to be the next super soldier who represented the US, they managed to create a compelling plot with engaging subplots. With the overwhelming emotional content and an appreciable political stand, this MCU series is definitely worth watching.
With the overwhelming emotional content and an appreciable political stand, this MCU series is definitely worth watching.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended