After slow combustion mystery of WandaVision, Marvel’s the latest TV show is a throwback to more familiar ground.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which launched on Friday on Disney +, brings cinematic action sequences to the small screen. In the first few minutes, you’re treated to meaty fist fights, mid-air explosions, and a mysterious organization wreaking havoc in Europe.
The show resumes a few months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, in which half of the planet’s population suddenly reappeared after a five-year absence, wreaking havoc in a world that had painfully adjusted to their absence.
At the end of the film, Captain America passes his iconic shield to Sam Wilson, an aviator-turned-Avenger known as the Falcon, who takes to the skies using a pair of mechanical wings. At the start of the six-part series, we find Wilson without a shield – grappling with whether to take over or not.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes – aka the Winter Soldier – lives in New York City and works to make amends, in the style of My name is earl, to a list of people he has injured in the nine-decade spate of assassinations he has brainwashed by the shadowy organization Hydra. Like Captain America, Barnes is a super soldier, with the addition of a high-tech prosthetic arm made of vibranium, the hardest and most versatile metal in the Marvel Universe.
A strange mesh of introspection and action runs through the first episode. Barnes works through her therapy issues, while Wilson takes a trip to see her sister in Louisiana, where she runs a struggling fishing operation. They may be Earth’s last line of defense against the evil forces of the galaxy, but apparently the Avengers aren’t paid enough to keep the bill collectors at bay.
Yes WandaVision was about grief and dealing with loss, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an identity program. The death of actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Black Panther, leaves Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie) as the only black superhero in the MCU, and series creator Malcolm Spellman has explained how Captain’s symbol is America would mean something very different if they were taken over by a black man instead of a white man.
The pitch of the trailers Falcon and the Winter Soldier like a buddies show – two big, contrasting personalities clashing as they get the job done. He was inspired, according to interviews, by a brief but fun interaction between the characters in a 10-second scene in Captain America: Civil War. It’s hard to judge if their camaraderie is working based on the first episode. In the movies, the two characters are played straight up, and they haven’t yet crossed paths by the end of the first installment, breaking with general TV pilot rules, which usually establish all major relationships from the get-go.
This could be the biggest failure of Falcon and the Winter Soldier– that it doesn’t look like a TV show at all. According to the creators, it was a conscious decision. “Everyone said we were making a six hour feature film,” director Kari Skogland said. Weekly entertainment. “We’re going to split it up so that it ultimately looks like TV, but it will look like a six hour feature film.”
But there’s a reason (most) movies don’t last six hours: no one would watch them. And there’s a reason it’s not a movie – even before the pandemic, it was planned as a TV series – and that’s because these characters just don’t have enough to be a draw. toss, even for a franchise that has turned many obscure comic book characters into household names over the past 13 years.