THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Review; "[It] Brings The Big Screen Blockbuster Experience To Disney+"

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier arrives on Disney+ tomorrow, but what can you expect from the premiere? This is a series that could be a game-changer for the MCU, so keep reading for our verdict...

Originally scheduled to be Marvel Studios’ first TV series to hit Disney+, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier now arrives quite a bit later than that rumoured August 2020 debut. Was it worth the wait? With only one episode provided prior to its debut on the streaming service this Friday, it’s hard to come to a definitive conclusion on that front just yet, but the signs are pointing to this potentially being another unmissable addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s small screen slate following the success of WandaVision

Picking up six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson is working with the military after deciding not to wield the shield as Captain America. Bucky, meanwhile, has earned a pardon and is looking to make amends for his past actions as the Winter Soldier. The two heroes don’t actually cross paths in this opening episode, but the exploration of their personal lives makes for compelling viewing, and only serves to build anticipation for the team-up we know is coming. The exploration of both characters’ respective psyches means they’re fleshed out more in 40-odd minutes than all their previous appearances combined. Already, we’re 100% invested in Sam’s relationship with his sister as he tries to save their family’s legacy, while Bucky dealing with his past promises to take that hero in new, unexpected directions. These TV shows are already proving themselves to be worthy additions to the wider MCU, particularly as the longer runtime means questions like “How do superheroes get paid, anyway?” are finally answered. 

Kari Skogland shoots The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in a very different way to something like Captain America: The Winter Soldier (despite the tonal similarities), giving it the feel of a character drama more akin to something like Breaking Bad than your standard superhero blockbuster. However, don’t let the filmmaker’s unique way of bringing us into this world fool you; when the action does kick in, it is right up there with any Marvel movie. A lengthy opening sequence follows Falcon into battle, and delivers the sort of blockbuster action fit for the big screen. With a strong script from showrunner Malcolm Spellman, the series feels timely, relevant, and gripping in all the right ways. 

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are on top form, with the latter really given the chance to shine as Bucky struggles to find his place in the world. His peaceful sabbatical in Wakanda as the White Wolf is over, so what happens when he’s confronted by the sins of his past? That’s a question this series looks to be setting out to answer, and if this first episode is any indication, that could take the character to some extraordinary places. Mackie, meanwhile, is as charismatic and likeable as ever; taking full advantage of the opportunity to take a deeper dive into Sam Wilson, we could be in store for some groundbreaking storytelling from Marvel Studios as the series progresses, even if that is only teased here. Exploring why Sam decided not to become Captain America is an idea with a lot of potential, particularly if we learn more about how his place as a Black man in present day America played into that. 

Don’t let the score below fool you; The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has all the makings of a 5* series. It’s just too soon to say right now. As enjoyable as it is to catch up with the two leads (while being treated to some jaw-dropping action), this is definitely something of a slow burn which drops plenty of hints about what’s to come without rushing into bringing in characters like Sharon Carter and Zemo. Will future episodes be able to continue exploring what makes Sam and Bucky tick in such a satisfying way once they’re inevitably thrust right into the thick of the action with other larger than life characters? Hopefully, though we’ll find out whether the next five instalments can live up to the premiere’s promise of a Marvel movie mixed with a character study in the weeks ahead. There’s certainly enough here to get you hooked, including an ending which will make the wait for next week’s episode an agonising one. For now, you can look forward to some great cameos in this first chapter, not to mention a fresh take on two heroes who could, and arguably should, become a focal point of the MCU moving forward. 

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier brings the big screen blockbuster experience to Disney+ in a promising premiere that lays the groundwork for another Marvel Studios series which defies expectations and takes its leads on a thrilling journey.


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