“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” Lives Up To Expectations

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Ilana Rockwell, Entertainment Editor

Ilana Rockwell

“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” the second installment of Marvel’s Disney+ original shows as per their Phase 4 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has continued their streak of success. Following the extreme success of “WandaVision,” largely considered the most popular show for the seven weeks it spanned, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” had high expectations to live up to. 

Centering around two characters previously considered “sidekicks” in many regards, primarily to the Avengers’ Captain America, the show follows the titular characters Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier). In the ending of “Avengers: Endgame,” fans were caught by surprise to see Steve Rogers (Captain America) give his shield to Sam to become the next Captain America, leaving both characters without their closest friendship and unforeseen futures. “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” begins almost immediately with Sam giving away the shield, and thus being on opposite ends with Bucky. Throughout the series, the two pair up to face a rebel group known as the Flagsmashers, while also dealing with internal struggles. Bucky is faced with reliving his trauma and making amends for his past while Sam aims to support his family while also finding his place as a Black American who was tasked with protecting the very country that had failed him in many ways. 

Ultimately, the show did an excellent job of targeting nuances that Marvel has been too sloppy with in the past, with details often overlooked to save time for large action sequences. Fans were given the opportunity to learn more about two characters whose storylines were often treated haphazardly and only in relation to Steve Rogers within the Avengers films. It also tied in many other characters from the films, such as the Dora Milaje, Sharon Carter, Helmut Zemo, and more. 

The show released its first episode on March 19, releasing only four more, at about 50 minutes apiece, every Friday until its final sixth episode on April 23. With such a small amount of time and an incredibly ambitious project, it was almost inevitable to feel rushed in some regard. While there was an attempted sympathy play for the perceived antagonists of the series, it was resolved recklessly and left very little emotion or connection to their cause or Sam’s dedication to protect it fairly. 

One of the main plots of the show is the racism and discrimination Sam has to recognize in his journey to becoming Captain America. The show features several scenes in Sam’s story figuring out the complicated legacy and impact taking the shield would have, including being profiled by the police, visiting a Black supersoldier who was imprisoned and tortured by the American government, trying to uphold his community and family in New Orleans, and more. While these are well done, it feels the show rushed to include Bucky somehow and ended up with a lackluster speech about how he suddenly understood the difficulties Sam was facing. With dialogue like “I don’t think [Steve and I]  understood what it felt like for a Black man to be handed the shield. How could we? I owe you an apology. I’m sorry.” without any indication of his further consideration or realizations, it felt alarmingly like a cheap attempt to get audiences to side with Bucky once more and “wrap up” Sam’s decision. It was messy and rushed, and unfortunately took away from a lot of the development they had created previously. 

From an objective standpoint, it is hard to fault the production value of any Marvel project. With such a large following, budget, and content pool from the hundreds of comics at their disposal, it’s hard to miss. The CGI has only improved since both the Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s first appearances, and music and editing have always been a staple in their success. There’s also no shortage of talented actors, and this show is no exception. While both Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) are phenomenal in their own regard, they truly shine together and have great on-screen chemistry. 

Overall, the show successfully keeps up anticipation for future Marvel projects and retains its reputation for well-made but poorly-ended Disney+ shows.