Review: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Soars High

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier opens with the Falcon himself, Sam Wilson, and the famous Captain America shield, a symbol of hope and safety. As we watch Sam pack up the shield, we hear a familiar conversation between two friends:

Steve Rogers: How’s it feel?

Sam Wilson: Like it’s someone else’s.

Steve Rogers: It isn’t.

image courtesy of Disney+

It’s that idea of legacy and responsibility that catapults us back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show opens in a post “Blip” world – Captain America is “gone,” the shield now sits on display at the Smithsonian, and the Falcon continues to be an asset for the United States Military. Back in Brooklyn, Bucky Barnes attempts to assimilate back to life as civilian – he goes to therapy, tries dating, works towards being someone more than just a killing machine. However, an Avenger’s work is never finished and a new (or old, we’ll find out) threat is ready to shatter world peace and claim dominance.

Like Wandavision with its exploration of grief and trauma, the show is more than just an action adventure series. Falcon is a study about guilt and how both titular characters confront it in their own ways. For Sam Wilson (played brilliantly by Anthony Mackie), his guilt is two-fold: he believes that he will not be able to live up to the shield gifted to him by Cap, himself. How can one live up to the legacy of a man who, before transforming into America’s first Avenger, threw himself without hesitation on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers and had such moral standing that even Thor’s Hammer found him worthy? At the same time, Sam wrestles with his guilt over his absence from his family, specifically his sister, Sarah. He may be renowned as an Avenger, but that comes at cost and Sam struggles to pay it back. 

image courtesy of Disney+

Then there’s Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan and his smolder), who still grapples with his memories as The Winter Soldier. Although he understands that he was abused and controlled into becoming a humanized weapon, that doesn’t assuage the guilt he feels that the destruction and violence was by his hands. We watch as he tries to make amends and right the wrongs he caused, but we also see that Bucky’s journey to self-forgiveness is not going to be smooth and effortless. 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is continued proof that the MCU works on so many levels, no matter the medium. The characters are complex and their motivations are real amid a world of fantasy and fiction. Storylines effortlessly weave together human interest and adventure without forsaking or diminishing the other. We’re just as invested in Sarah and her struggle to make ends meet as much as we are in Sam and Bucky’s journeys. The show also has its finger on the pulse of America, tackling issues such as mental health and race. The irony is not lost on the viewer that Sam is the only Avenger who is denied a bank loan because he had no viable income. Pretty sure no one asked fellow snap victims Wanda or Doctor Strange for their credit score.

Of course, this is still a marvel production and with that comes all of the action sequences that make you sit on the edge of your seat and believe that CGI is real. We’re with The Falcon as he soars through the skies, on a mission to rescue a kidnapped general. We watch a pre-reformed Winter Soldier do what he did best: be a human weapon set to destroy, and destroy he does without mercy and remorse. It’s a non-stop ride that makes certain your eyes stay on the screen and never once lets you take a breath and relax. And yes, there are so many Easter eggs, ride or die Marvel fans will be filling up their baskets for weeks to come, but it doesn’t ostracize those taking their first steps into the Marvel universe. The show is a a superb addition to this multiverse storyline at the same time creating its own path for future fans. 

image courtesy of Disney+

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, you both would make Cap proud. 

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is available now on Disney+ and new episodes premiere every Friday! Watched the first episode? Give us your thoughts!

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