The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the second Marvel show to be released on Disney+. After WandaVision’s exploration of grief, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier offers a more traditional Marvel experience.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson has returned to government service and sets out to help his sister who has taken over the family business. He learns about how much the world has changed due to The Blip. Bucky has been pardoned by the US government but he has to attend therapy. He is also suffering from guilt due to his actions as a HYDRA assassin and tries to make amends by working as an independent operative taking down former HYDRA agents and befriends family members of his victims.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier have been characters who have lived in the shadow of Captain America and the series uses that as a theme. At the end of Avengers: Endgame an elderly Steve Rogers gave Sam his shield and both Sam and Bucky were in prime contention to take the Captain America mantle.
Both characters were in a similar position to Cap was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam was working for the government and Bucky was a man out of time. It’s the first time Bucky has been able to live a normal life since the 1940s because he was a brainwashed assassin and was on the run since Captain America: Civil War. Both characters were also blipped so have disappeared for five years.
The first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier makes the series look like a spy-thriller, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Seeing that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best films from the MCU it serves as a good basis for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and since I enjoy espionage fiction the series has a lot of appeal to me. The episode was 42 minutes long (excluding credits) which was a similar length to spy-fi shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Alias.
The trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier made the series look like a joke-filled buddy-comedy. However, the first episode was more strait-laced. Sam had family issues and the weight of Captain America’s legacy. Whilst Bucky had even bigger issues because he was unable to move on from his guilt, leading to him being unable to make any friendships. Even when Bucky does have a personal connection with an old Japanese man, his past still hangs over him.
WandaVision’s great strengths as a series was its exploration of grief and showing the personal impact of The Blip on some of the characters. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s first episode is showing the wider impact of The Blip, both political and societal. To Sam the post-Blip world is new: he’s told of a terrorist organization who believe that the world was better off during The Blip and the rules the world he knew have changed.
Most of the episode was actually more focused on personal drama than I was expecting. Falcon’s big action scene takes place right at the beginning. The other two action scenes were a brief flashback and a bank robbery which was small scale. Despite Sam being in six MCU movies his character was barely explored, and the TV series finally shows there’s more to him than being Captain America’s best friend. It helps to ground the character and his personal issues were perfectly relatable.
“New World Order” was a solid start to the series that gives audiences an understanding of the main two characters and their reasoning. Now the series needs to focus on its story.