Marvel Studios’s first episode, “The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, ” has arrived on Disney+. This new series consists of 6 episodes and sees Anthony Mackie return as Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, along with Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier.
This episode picks up a few months after the events of “Avengers: Endgame”, where billions of people have returned from the blip, setting the world into chaos as those who were left behind struggle to deal with those returning, while those who were gone have returned to a different world.
This episode really digs much deeper into the events of the blip, especially for Sam, whose family has really struggled with him being gone and him trying to come back in to help them. It’s interesting to see how financial issues have come into this episode and is made very apparent when Sam and his sister visit a bank for a loan. Not every superhero is a billion, and with no Tony Stark around to splash the cash, we get a much more grounded reality, which is refreshing as Marvel generally has smoothed over any financial issues with ease. It also really helps ground Sam in the real world and set up his character more than all of his appearances in the previous Marvel movies combined.
The internal struggle with Sam feeling unworthy of wearing the Captain America shield is told extremely well, and I have no doubt it’ll have repercussions for the rest of the season and beyond. Sam is mourning the loss of Steve Rogers, while the US government misses Captain America. Instantly, this episode gives Marvel so much more room to explore this issue than could be done in a movie.
I’ve always liked Sam in the films, but he’s always been a sidekick, turning up to help when needed but generally, never being the main star. This episode changed that for me. This felt like Falcon’s true origin story. We learn about his family, his upbringing and his values. When he sees someone else becoming Captain America, the pain in his eyes is touching, especially following his earlier discussion with James Rhodes, aka War Machine (who actually does appear in this episode!).
The opening scene involving Falcon taking down the UFC fighter George St Pierre and other winged generic stormtroopers was a fantastic way to kick off the series and show that this series has the budget to bring in some big action scenes. I’m sure younger audiences might find the episode slows down a bit too much after that. I really enjoyed Marvel hitting the breaks and taking its time to give us more story.
Bucky is also an important part of this episode, but his story feels so different to Sam’s. For the first time in his life, he’s own his own and is trying to apologise to those he hurt as “The Winter Soldier”. Much like Steve, he’s an old man living in a modern world, and there are lots of little references to him being from a different generation. This episode isn’t about his origin; it’s about him trying to come to terms with what he was forced to do. It’s taken a small piece of what we saw in “Civil War” and really explored that further. Again, its the benefit of a series, where they can spend more time building the character. Instead of him just being a guy with a metal arm.
By the end of the first episode, we’ve had the setting perfectly set. Each character is in a different place, but something is brewing that’ll bring them together. I really enjoyed this episode and totally forgot that I was actually watching a TV show. It felt like I was watching a Marvel movie. Due to the unique nature of “WandaVision”, I never felt like that with that show, since it leaned on being a TV show so heavily until the finale.
The first episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” was an excellent way of kicking off the season, and Marvel fans will no doubt be happy we’re back into the gritty world of superheroes that we saw in the “Captain America” films.
Rating 4.5 out of 5