Marvel’s latest TV series, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has only just begun and it already shows great, great promise.
The series, created by Malcolm Spellman and directed by Kari Skogland, stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles as Sam Wilson and James Buchanan Barnes, respectively, from previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. The series takes place at least six months after the events of the monumental film, “Avengers: Endgame” and the return of billions of people after the infamous snap by Thanos, deemed the Blip by the denizens of the Marvel Universe. Wilson continues to do hero work for the United States Air Force as the superhero Falcon and Barnes is trying to move past his identity as the Winter Soldier, going through therapy and attempting to reconcile with parties he hurt while under the control of the Marvel Universe’s Nazi analog, Hydra.
Coming off the heels of “WandaVision,” a show that garnered so much internet attention, its weekly serial format was deemed seminal despite this format being how TV was done before Netflix, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has large shoes to fill at least from the fans’ perspectives. The MCU has set up an expectation of films and TV shows that follow one after the other in a connected story. “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “WandaVision” have broken that mold but this can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can more easily make engaging content with a wider audience because you aren’t bogged down by years of lore. On the other hand, when other installments have created the expectation, any one derivation from the plan can cause an initial fan reaction that is less than desirable. But like most things, any reasonable medium is going to have a group of people that dislike and a group of people that like it.
However, the first episode already stands as a good first step. It returns to the traditional superhero format that “WandaVision” deviated from. It features action and adventure in the first 20 minutes of the episode and then, winds down to more inter and intrapersonal action. To the average viewer, this process of starting with a strong inciting incident, in this case Falcon taking down a French terrorist group who have kidnapped a military liaison, works very well. It gives them something immediately striking to latch on to. However, a more nuanced approach to this show could lead one to recognize the show and much of the MCU as US military propaganda while not directly associated. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the show or other MCU movies but it’s important to recognize how media represents existing institutions, especially ones as politically motivated as military forces.
The series is already off to a promising start. It’s taken the momentum from “WandaVision” and kept its metaphorical head up. If you (or someone you want to steal from) has Disney+, you should consider starting “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and follow it weekly on Fridays. “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” receives an A rating.