Synopsis: Following the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience
Stars: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, Adepero Oduye, Wyatt Russell, Danny Ramirez, Miki Ishikawa, Desmond Chiam
Director: Kari Skogland
Running Length: 48 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: With the release of Avengers: Endgame in 2019, a lot of loose ends were tied up for a number of our A-List stars that had reached the end of their contracts. Namely, Robert Downey, Jr.’s power source as Iron Man finally ran out and Chris Evans as Captain America decided it was time to put down his shield and enjoy life, letting time take its turn with him. Other stars are retreating back to their own established franchise films (Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, The Incredible Hulk) or starting their own (Black Widow) but what about the other Avengers that might be considered the ‘B’ team? Well, there might not be a movie for them but there could be a Disney+ show that would work…
Viewers have already experienced WandaVision, the surprisingly winning nine-episode series that premiered in January on Disney’s subscription streaming service and became 2021’s first watercooler hit, attracting a diverse audience of established fans and newcomers lured in by the shows intriguing premise. Less Marvel-ey, at least at first, than what many had come to expect, the series featured the bereaved Wanda Maximoff creating an insular world where her true love and sentient being Vision could remain alive. Taking over an innocuous town and turning them into unwitting participants in an ever-changing world modeled after television sitcoms, Wanda can’t keep the outside world, or evil magic, out of her sphere for long. Eventually drawing out her powers as the Scarlet Witch, the series would drop the clever in favor of clamor, drowning out what was interesting week-to-week with more standard efficiencies that were a means to an end for future Marvel properties.
Mere weeks after WandaVision wrapped up its run comes the premiere of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on March 19 (the same weekend Zack Snyder’s Justice League comes out…oh, the timing!) and the first of its six episodes were screened for critics before the release. If the first episode is any indication, there’s a new formula afoot in the Marvel Television Universe and it’s heavy on the emotional fallout experienced by the Avengers after they return to their “regular” lives. While it starts with a thrilling action set piece that wouldn’t have been out of place (with a bit more polish in the effects and editing department) in a big-screen Avengers adventure, Episode 1 switches gears fairly rapidly and slows down the pace significantly for the remainder of the 40-minute run time.
The good news is that the Marvel group and experienced TV director Kari Skogland have assembled a cast that I think is going to be worth tuning in for every week. Though in this first episode we don’t get to meet the full roster that’s credited in the well designed but gargantuanly long closing credits, we at least get our first introduction to Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave) as Falcon/Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie, Love the Coopers) Louisiana-based sister Sarah. Running the family fishing boat and trying to make ends meet, Sarah is a good reality check for Sam and I hope remains a key player over the next several episodes. We also get a sense of where Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan, Endings, Beginnings) is, mentally, after returning from his exile and beginning to make amends to those he either hurt or empowered as a Hydra weapon.
I would have liked to see one more episode before making a full review call on this one because aside from a few hints at a possible anarchist enemy that may become a larger threat to the two men and a further challenge that hits closer to home for Sam, there’s not a lot of information given out in this first episode. Like WandaVision, it’s slickly made and doesn’t feel like it’s a television show attempting to be something bigger but I do wonder what they’ll be able to accomplish with less episodes in which to tell their story and even more characters to introduce over the coming weeks. Not that it matters…if fans went crazy for the quirkiness of WandaVision I think they’re going to find some comfort in the familiarity of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.