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The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (1.01) Review

March 18, 2021 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
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The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (1.01) Review  

Author’s Note: This is a spoiler-free review for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier based on a screener for the first episode provided by Disney+.

Fresh off the end of Marvel’s WandaVision, Disney+ shows no signs of slowing down with the next episodic television installment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. While WandaVision began with a slow burn and use some experimental ideas, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier starts out much more quickly and presents additional traditional cinematic action before taking a breather.

Tonally, this show plays like a spiritual successor to one of Marvel’s best films, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The benefit is that the episodic format offers more time to delve deeply into the psychology for Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and James “Bucky” Buchanan Barnes (Sebastian Stan). This season appears like it will be a complex and personal exploration into the personal lives of both individuals post-Endgame.

Picking up some time after the events of the climactic battle with Thanos, the world has been left reeling by the sudden influx of billions of people returning to the planet five years after Infinity War. This has brought on its own chaotic set of circumstances, and the world needs its heroes now more than ever. Wilson and Barnes were among those who disappeared in the devastation left in Thanos’ wake.

While Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, personally passed on his shield to Sam Wilson before retirement, the burden weighs heavy on Sam. The first episode sets up what will clearly be a fascinating, transformative journey for Sam Wilson as he wrestles with Steve’s decision.

Meanwhile, Bucky is trying to find some semblance or measure of peace. The last time he lived a normal life was before he went off to fight in World War II. Since that time, he’s been a brainwashed assassin for HYDRA, but even free of their shackles, his war never ended. The nightmares of his past atrocities are part of Bucky’s personal struggle this season. Bucky wants redemption. He wants some type of normalcy, but his struggle to find forgiveness hits him hard. It risks sending him back into a personal hell of self-imposed isolation.

The debut episode of this series really peels back the layers of these characters in a way that’s never before been depicted in the MCU. Stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are more than up to the task to handle some hefty dramatic material here. The character studies for Sam and Bucky on display in the first episode are actually reminiscent of the character drama from the better parts of the Marvel Netflix line. In just one episode, there are already some deeply emotional gut punches.

New to the MCU cast is Amy Aquino of Bosch fame. She’s a welcome addition as Dr. Raynor. If the first episode and footage are any indication, she’s going to be a powerhouse and breakout performer this season.

There’s an amazing, riveting action sequence in the first episode, but blazingly shot action is nothing if the character and story are not compelling. Thus far, director Kari Skogland and head writer Malcolm Spellman have done an exemplary job making the central characters for this show convincing. Behind the sleek costumes and armor, the characters are grounded and believable. Also, one scene in particular involving Bucky is presented by Skogland in a very interesting fashion. It’s filmed in a way that’s unique from any sequence ever depicted in the history of the MCU.

Spellman does a great job setting up The Falcon and The Winter Soldier as a riveting political spy thriller. Based on the first episode, it will not be shying away from social and political themes, but they are presented in a way that’s organic to the fabric of the MCU and previously established events.

The first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sets the tone for what looks to be an exciting season that will both expand the MCU and shatter preconceived notions that have been held over this franchise for years. The episodic format also looks to be an excellent way to offer exceptional character exploration into the lives of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. The cast and crew appear more than up to the task.

Marvel’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ on March 19. New episodes will be streaming weekly.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldiers sets the tone for a riveting political spy thriller set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan's talents are on full display, and the production team does an exceptional job in offering a deeper exploration into the psychology of these characters than what's ever been shown before in the MCU.

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Shang-Chi, Jeffrey Harris