NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on March 24th, 2021

About The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a Disney+ series set in the Marvel Cinematic universe, six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame. This six-episode miniseries aired the first episode on March 19th, meaning we have new Friday night appointment television now that WandaVision’s finished

New World Order Recap 

Following the events of Endgame, our two main characters have a lot of serious issues to deal with. 

For Sam Wilson, he’s caught between two extremes. On the one hand, he’s still fighting to save people and doing what he can to live up to the memory of Steve Rogers while on the other hand trying to deal with the family issues that have popped up thanks to the snap creating a serious economic depression that has devastated Sam’s sisters fishing business.

For Bucky Barnes, he’s trying to cope with the trauma that grief and years as a hypnotised super-soldier has caused him while also attempting to make it in the modern world. Trapped as a hundred-year-old man who only looks like he’s in his 30s, Bucky needs to figure out how to live in a world that he doesn’t quite fit in with. 

While this is happening, a group known as the Flag Smashers has started to make trouble, the kind of trouble that might require a pair of superheroes to come by and deal with them.

Review

After the high melodrama of Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels a lot more like what I expected from the TV spinoffs of the MCU. It wastes very little time getting right into the action with an opening fight scene against the LAF who have kidnapped Captain Vasant. This group is seemingly lead by Georges Batroc, who was last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and they sure do open this series with a bang.

The opening fight scene where Sam is flying after the LAF to try and save the captain is the kind of scene that you would expect to see in a Falcon movie, with the level of bombast and cinematic detail that implies. It’s energetic and exciting, filled with great moments of tension and excitement. When Falcon is trying to lose a series of missiles that are tracking him through the air, it’s enough to get you holding your breath in hopes things will be OK for him and when he manages to save the captain, it elicited a cheer.

Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Then the episode slowed down, which was inevitable after an opener like that, to begin laying the groundwork for the rest of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Falcon donates the shield to a museum to honour Steve, a move that shows how hard it is for Sam to take the mantle that was placed upon him by his friend. It can’t be an easy mantle to carry and I like that they’re making it a lot harder than just “Oh, Falcon is Captain America now because we said so”, they’re addressing the complexities that come with that kind of a title.

This episode in general spends a lot of time pointing out the void that’s been left in this world because there’s no more Captain America. It’s not just affected people like Sam and Bucky, we learn that it’s created a set of conspiracy theories about where Captain America went, that the government is still wanting someone to take over as a symbol and it’s made some bad guys feel emboldened. 

They also really are making sure we, as an audience, remember that half the world vanished for 5 years and that would create a serious set of problems for our main characters. Most of Falcon’s plot for this episode is just him helping his sister get a bank loan sorted out, something that’s a lot harder now that the bank has had to change its policies. It’s nice to see that they’ve taken that 5-year gap seriously, giving this world a sense of reality among the flying heroes and supervillains.

Speaking of reality, Bucky’s finally doing what he’s needed to do for years and have some goddamn therapy. He easily has the least to do in this episode, getting one date with a bartender and dealing with a therapist who is trying to get him to make amends for the actions he took as the Winter Soldier. This is Bucky trying to effectively do what Steve got to do and live a normal life, or as normal as he can get considering what he’s done. 

By the end of the episode, our two leads haven’t even spoken but we are introduced to a new group of bad guys known as the Flag Smashers who seem to want to take things back to how they were during that 5-year gap. On top of that, the shield that Falcon gave to the museum has ended up on the arm of a new Captain America that the government has recruited. It’s a lot of setups to get through for what promises to be an exciting and fun miniseries.

Overall

For a first episode, this is pretty great. It has the difficult double duty of telling us what happened in the gap between Endgame and now, which is pulled off and setting up the pieces for the episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to come. On the whole, it succeeds at creating some intrigue and making the audience look forward to what is on the way. While there are a few little things that I have questions about (next section of this review), it’s given me exactly what I hoped for which is always a good thing to get.

Stray Observations

  • So… is the bad guy the LAF or is it the Flag Smashers this season? Both groups seem equally bad and both have major ties to the past of our characters, but we only have 6 episodes so either they need to team up or one of them needs to take out the other one.
  • Bucky only really being able to get along with a senior citizen is brilliant, he and Steve were men out of time and without Steve around he needed someone who he could have a conversation with… sucks that it turns out that Bucky killed that senior citizen’s son.
  • Bucky’s therapy session might be the funniest thing the character has done, just his awkward smile alone had me giggling.
  • In the bank scene, they bring up that the superheroes don’t get paid and just rely on the goodwill of people to get by… how come some billionaire hasn’t just paid for all of the heroes to have decent housing? Turns out the real villain was capitalism all along!
  • Best Line: “Every time something gets better for one group, it gets worse for another”

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