This is a non-spoiler review of the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier BUT it does contain mild spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
When Marvel released the first trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I thought it looked good, but I wasn’t excited about it. I was more looking forward to WandaVision as it seemed (and was) very different from the Marvel projects that we’re all used to. To me, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier looked very much like the standard Marvel affair.
But I’m pleased to say that it only took one episode for the show to exceed my expectations because The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an exhilarating thrill ride that very much feels like a movie.
Starting just months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the world is struggling to cope with the sudden return of the billions of people who Thanos decimated in Avengers: Infinity War. Life went on for those left behind, but for the people who vanished, the world has changed and moved on without them. This is where Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), have found themselves.
Sam has returned to active duty as The Falcon, but he’s also trying to keep his personal life together and separate from his time as an Avenger. Meanwhile, Bucky has seemingly hit rock-bottom and is dealing with the PTSD that comes with being a brainwashed super-soldier.
While WandaVision felt very much like a television show, which isn’t too much of a surprise considering that was a major plot point of the series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels less like a series and more like a movie that has been divided into chapters. It even has the budget of one too, and it shows!
In no way do the action scenes look as cheap as other television series. I would even go as far as saying that they’re on-par with the ones we’ve seen in previous Marvel movies. From the CGI to the on-set stunt coordination, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has some of the best action sequences we’ve seen in a Marvel show since Daredevil on Netflix.
As for the acting, I have zero complaints. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I enjoyed Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in this series more than I have in any other Marvel movie. Not that I’ve disliked their performances (The Falcon is one of my favourite characters in the franchise), I just felt that seeing a new quieter side to Sam and Bucky really helped elevate their performances in such a refreshing way.
In the movies, we seldom see the characters just hanging out with friends and family or even just going about their daily life, and, understandably, we don’t because a film is held down by one runtime. But with an episodic series, we can spend a few moments to see how these characters live and thus take an even deeper look at their current mental state. This is what The Falcon and the Winter Soldier does so well, and while many viewers will be here to see the action scenes, I would recommend paying attention to the smaller moments because we get to see a new side to these characters we’ve known for years now.
There’s been a lot of talk of villains, and despite being a comic-book reader, I’m not really familiar with the ones in this series. While they don’t take centre stage in the first episode, the writers have done an impeccable job of setting them up for the rest of the series.
If you thought WandaVision wasn’t your cup of tea, then you’ll likely enjoy The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It’s familiar enough that it steps through the familiar tropes most Marvel movies are built upon, but the new angle it takes keeps it fresh. Suppose you’re relatively new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and felt lost with WandaVision. You’ll be pleased to know that because the lead characters have only just returned to existence, they too find themselves to be fish-out-water. There really isn’t any need to know their backstories or watch their previous movie appearances. I can’t say this won’t change in the future, but at least with the first episode, you’re all good to go and have plenty of time to catch-up if you need to.
If you are new to the franchise and you do want to catch-up then I would reccomended that you watch the following:
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
You may also want to check-out WandaVision if you haven’t already. At the time of writing, it’s not known whether it will connect with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in any way, but since they are both a part of the MCU’s Phase Four line-up, they could potentially link-up.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on March 18th 2021, exclusively on Disney+, where you can also find all of the movies and series mentioned in this review (region depending), except for Marvel’s Daredevil, which can be found on Netflix.