While Marvel Studios has been able to give big movies to such main superhero characters such as Thor, Iron Man, and even Captain America, the studio has also introduced incredible characters that might be considered “secondary” by some and perhaps aren’t considered high-profile enough to be given their own movies. That does not diminish their worthiness in having their stories told which is where the streaming service Disney+ comes in. Having already given a marvelous spotlight on Wanda Maximoff and the departed Vision, Marvel and Disney now turn their attention to two amazing secondary stories who DO deserve to have their stories told, especially considering the final moments of the movie Avengers: Endgame. Steve Rogers had become an old man and bequeathed his shield to Sam Wilson aka The Falcon. But what does a man like Sam do with the shield? How does he transition from being The Falcon to the new Captain America? That is where the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier comes in.
A lot of ground is covered in the first three episodes of this series, but one of the big ones is a sense of worthiness. First, there is Sam who feels he isn’t worthy to carry Cap’s shield and become the new American Icon as heroes go. Then there is Bucky, the one-time sidekick and best friend to Steve Rogers, lost during World War II, brought back in the 20th Century as a master-assassin under the control of HYDRA. Now free of their influence he seeks restitution for all the harm and death he has caused. Where Sam doesn’t believe he’s worthy enough to step into Cap’s shoes (and carry the shield), Bucky simply doesn’t feel worthy enough for anything, despite having been pardoned for his crimes. They both are struggling with enormous amounts of self-doubt, all hinging on whether Steve Rogers made the right choices regarding them.
Because of their connections with Steve, they are inevitably brought together when a terrorist organization starts creating problems. Even worse, they seem to be comprised of Super Soldiers, and the only one who is supposed to be active is Bucky. As they work together, they confront both the future with a newly appointed Captain America as well as their past and they both have to come to terms with each other as well as themselves about the people they have become.
When I saw Captain America: The First Avenger for the first time I was astonished and blown away by what Marvel had delivered. They gave me a pure World War II action movie that was pure popcorn fun. The follow-up with Captain America: The Winter Soldier sealed the deal and made this my favorite character franchise within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was saddened to learn that there wouldn’t be any more Captain America films due to Chris Evans retiring from Marvel movies, but I was equally thrilled to learn of this new series because it just wasn’t Captain America who made those movies exciting. It was the supporting characters as well, from Sam Wilson to James “Bucky” Buchanan, to even Agent Sharon Carter. Knowing that there would be more stories involving them was incredibly exciting for me, and luckily for me, this series has not let me down. From the beginning, this series bears all the polish and production values of a major studio movie. The characters haven’t missed a beat, which is a huge credit to this wonderful cast. It’s also not short on any action, including a segment in one episode that had some brilliant flying effects as The Falcon was essentially involved in an aerial dogfight. It could have been easy for Marvel to lighten up on the quality of the visual effects given that this would be for the smaller screen, but Marvel understands its audience and that studio went for broke in giving us nothing but top-notch-looking action when it is required. They also don’t skimp on the characters. The continuing development of Sam, Bucky, and even Sharon is proof that the powers that be understand that at the heart of these stories are the people who are in them, and the acting talent of Anthony Mackie as Sam, Sebastian Stan as Bucky, and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter show just as much dedication for these roles as they had for them on the big screen. There is also the delightful return of Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo that has given much more depth to this villain we last saw in Captain America: Civil War, only this time he has a reason to ally, at present, with the likes of Sam and Bucky. What the future has in store for him is anyone’s guess but for now, he is an amusing asset for our bickering heroic duo.
This series also addresses some potentially interesting issues regarding the government and its people. The terrorist organization called Flag Smashers feel they have a legitimate beef with world governments in light of “The Blip.” While that may sound simple on the surface it could serve as a metaphor for current world and social issues. Having this series take this on proves that movies and streaming shows of this nature aren’t just for pure entertainment. They can also communicate ideas and generate conversation, and this series has done a masterful job at bringing this particular topic to the table.
After only three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I can safely say that I feel that these characters never left us. I feel as if I’m watching a series that’s a sequel comprised of one part Avengers: Age of Ultron and one part Captain America: Civil War. The quality for each episode has been equally excellent and I look forward to seeing the remaining episodes of this series and discover for myself what seeds they will be planting for future Marvel projects.