One of the odd relationships that developed during the Marvel Cinematic Universe series was that between Falcon and Winter Soldier. Both have a mutual friend in Captain America. Yet they could not be further apart in personality. Falcon is a gung-ho outspoken warrior while Winter Soldier is a brooding former assassin. In the MCU they Anthony Mackie portrayed Sam Wilson (Falcon) while Sebastian Stan portrays ‘Bucky’ Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier. During Endgame Captain America officially laid down the mantle and gave his shield to Falcon, signaling that a successor movie or series would him instead. Now, we have such a series. Slightly less than two years after the ‘The Avengers: Endgame’ we have a series exclusively for Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. While I think many fans reacted enthusiastically I know they wanted more than just two cool characters donning their costumes and fighting Hydra leftovers.
I know what I want from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. More Winter Soldier! He has been a favorite since he made his introduction in the eponymous Captain America movie. Just like Cap he was put on ice for seventy years. Unlike Cap Hydra once in a while thawed him for special assassination missions. Mostly unaware of his previous live as James Buchanan Barnes he murdered Tony Stark’s parents and nearly killed Black Widow. Ever since then he had to deal with the brainwashing Hydra performed on him. In flashbacks he remembers his assassinations and with it the realization of what will happen should he ever be reactivated, as happened in Civil War. That makes him enigmatic. Combined with a brooding character and the mysteries of Soviet tech and you get an incredible superhero deftly portrayed by Stan. And I suppose Falcon is OK as well.
The Falcon and his sister’s fishing company
And so, we start by watching the first episode – New World Order. Falcon (Sam Wilson) continues his work as an avenger in the aftermath of the Blip that saw half of humanity return after Thanos made them disappear. We catch up with Falcon as he attempts to undo a plane hijacking in Algeria. Batroc is involved but manages to escape, thus setting him up as a minor villain. Falcon is teamed up lieutenant Torres who warns him a new threat has emerged – the Flag-Smashers – who believe everything was better during the Blip. Back in Washington DC Sam returns Captain America’s shield to the government to be placed in an exhibition dedicated to Captain Rogers. Sam explains to Rhodey (cameo by Don Cheadle) that he still thinks the shield belongs to Rogers. Meanwhile Sam struggles with civilian life. After his parents died his sister is struggling financially.
Her fishing company is doing poorly and she wants to sell the boat. Sam is against it as he believes the boat is all that is left of their parents’ legacy. The relationship between brother and sister sours throughout the episode when Sam becomes obsessed with saving the boat. He makes an attempt to cash in on his celebrity status but fails miserably. The fact that he had no income during the five years of the Blip is used against him. With poor financial prospects and a difficult relationship with his sister he slowly gravitates back to performing mission as The Falcon. This continues when Torres is beaten up somebody with superhuman strength after attempting to infiltrate the Flag-Smashers. On TV Sam is receives a nasty surprise. The US government has taken Steve’s shield and given it to John Walker, who is to be the new Captain America.
Yori, Leah and the Winter Soldier
Elsewhere Bucky is having a hard time integrating into society. As part of a pardon, he has to undergo therapy. Currently Bucky feels as though he is making little progress. He has become virtually isolated with his only contact being the therapist. So far, he has ignored Sam’s text messages. Meanwhile Bucky continues to have nightmares form when he was Winter Soldier. In a scene that is nothing of spectacular we see how the Winter Soldier kills a VIP and his bodyguard detail. The fighting moves and the way Sebastian Stan is dressed harken back to the Winter Soldier movie. At the end of the scene Winter Soldier kills a young man who was a witness. Bucky makes attempts to meet people and in so doing has a regular lunch with an Asian man named Yori. It is Yori’s son RJ that Winter Soldier killed.
Yori arranges a date with the waitress Leah who has served them as regulars. Neither realize he is Bucky Barnes, formerly the Winter Soldier. Leah inquires to his past but with his old-fashioned charm manages to evade answering. No doubt this storyline will feature throughout the remainder of the season. Bucky’s guilt over the death of RJ nearly forces him to admit culpability. For the most part this episode focused on Sam Wilson, but I feel as though the performance of Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes was its highlight. Considering neither character is meet makes this episode feel like a lengthy prologue. The episode did have a dark feel, neither Falcon nor Winter Soldier are doing great despite some bright spots.
Final remarks on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
As mentioned earlier this first episode is a lengthy prologue, some might criticize it for that. However, I enjoy the long format over any kind of procedural storytelling. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as a series still has a long way to go. Characters such as Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) and Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) have yet to make an appearance. I hope other MCU will also return, I would totally dig The Wasp and Spider-man to make an appearance. However now that I know it is possible to faithfully recreate look of the Winter Soldier I want only one thing. His supposed showdown with Black Widow. Her character might have died in Endgame but considering she will soon have her own belated origin story it should be possible to revisit this plot. Perhaps for season 2 Scarlett Johansson can return as Black Widow.
In the meantime, I can only give this episode a strong thumbs up. That is not to say there were no problems. It feels like the setup is going to be a long affair. Some of the special effects were also kind-off hinky. Yet the story does both characters justice. Now we only need Agent 13 and Zemo to make their grand entrance. See you next week for episode 2. If you want you can visit the official discussion board for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.