DISCLAIMER: I was provided early access to this episode by Disney+ prior to its release on March 19th.
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s opening, Sam is given the task of retrieving a kidnapped Air Force Colonel “under the radar” and gets in an aerial battle that was hard to care for, given that there’s no context for why the people who kidnapped the Colonel are any sort of threat to the Air Force or why Falcon needs to be dispatched in this particular case. Additionally, the battle continues the unfortunate Marvel tradition of having what could be a breathtaking action sequence being edited to pieces to where the action is extremely hard to follow.
Unlike Sam’s opening mission, Marvel’s mission here is quite clear. Marvel is using Disney+ as a bridge to take the MCU’s success and put it in front of everyone willing to pay for a Disney+ subscription, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier does not deviate in this manner. Directed by Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Punisher, The Walking Dead, The Americans, House of Cards), the show looks to be a blend of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the Tom Clancy films, which pretty closely describes Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
If there is any deviation in this formula, I think it is in how the series presents the two heroes. Avoiding spoilers, the series premiere switches perspectives between Sam and Bucky as they live their lives. Set about six months after Avengers: Endgame, Sam is on contract with the United States government, helping out his sister, Sarah (Adepero Oduye), with the family boating business.
Bucky, unfortunately, does not get the same sense of comfort. He’s having nightmares from his days as HYDRA’s favorite hitman and has run out of friends and family. To convey these thoughts of isolation, Skogland shoots the scenes he’s featured in with a haze to it and in some measure of close-up. Simply put, Bucky is trying to find peace in a world that sees him as nothing more than a soldier.
Within the episode, actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan find these small moments to display their inner turmoil but also their fun side. Mackie takes much of that fun side, as the lovable “Uncle Sam” to his nephews, as a mentor to Lieutenant Torres, or as a loveable little brother. Stan, on the other hand, has a lot of simple moments that are quietly funny, like when he mentions seeing a lot of tiger photos on dating sites or making fun of a therapist’s three rules that he has to use to make amends. Once The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally meet up again, it’s going to make for a nice buffer between the more serious scenes and the action scenes.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s first episode is full of what we’ve come to love from the Captain America films, but I feel the main thing that will hold viewers back will be that, unlike WandaVision, Marvel seems to be treating this series as a movie rather than a show, where significant developments about the characters that aren’t relevant to the story are shuffled offscreen and not quite explained in a satisfactory manner.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream with a Disney+ subscription. New episodes will be released every week.
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