The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review

Image+courtesy+of+Marvel+Studios

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios

Riley Kasprzyk, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios

Hot off the heels of WandaVision, Marvel Studios has released their second series on Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The show stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, better known as The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier. The series also stars Wyatt Russell as the new Captain America, John Walker, as well as Captain America: Civil War Alums Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter) and Daniel Brühl (Zemo). Erin Kellyman portrays Karli Morgenthau, a revolutionary who serves as the series’ primary antagonist. Malcom Spellman serves as the showrunner for the series. This article will contain no spoilers.

WandaVision marked the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first crack at a weekly television series, and I think it greatly succeeded. It told a unique story that could only be told in the TV format while paying homage to television. Not to mention that it was so radically different from anything else the MCU has put out. This all culminated to create an enjoyable show that I would watch again. But why am I talking about WandaVision? This is a review for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier after all. Well, this show is very different in that it feels much more in tune with a traditional MCU movie. Rather than feeling like a television show with an episodic format, it was really a six-hour movie that was split into six episodes. Additionally, the tone and storyline felt familiarly Marvel, though like WandaVision, it touched upon deeper issues and themes that I did appreciate. But if you are someone who does not really like MCU movies, I don’t think this show is really going to change your mind. It falls victim to the gray color pallet that other movies like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron utilized. So, if you like the Marvel formula, you will probably like the show. But for me personally, my favorite MCU movies are the ones that break the mold, like Thor: Ragnarök and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

By far the best thing about the show are the two lead characters. Despite the title having two protagonists, this is by far more of a Falcon show, but I was fine with that. Mackie’s performance as Sam is compelling, something I would have never said about his appearances in other films. I love that they gave him more of a backstory with his sister and his hometown, as well as his own personal struggle. Before the show even came out, we all knew it would be about his journey into becoming the new Captain America, based off the ending of Avengers: Endgame. But I like that he does not just instantly accept the role. This goes into bigger themes of legacy and symbols, which I think the show nails. This is done exceptionally well with the introduction of two new characters, one of which I cannot talk about. The other though is Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, who serves as a very entertaining foil for Sam. The series’ other lead, Sebastian Stan as James Barnes, is also well done, with his storyline delving into mental health and PTSD in a really nice way. While speaking of characters, Brühl’s Zemo steals every scene he is in, and he has spectacular chemistry with Stan and Mackie. His philosophy makes him a truly fascinating character and another great foil for Sam, but especially Bucky. Unfortunately, Emily VanCamp’s character has very hazy motivations and is half-baked. However, the worst character is Karli Morgenthau, who is written in a way that makes it seem that the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for her, and even root for her. Unfortunately, her actions contrast so starkly with her character, leaving me more confused than anything. The flag-smashers are possibly some of the worst villains in the MCU.

Another thing that this show does really well is its social commentary, particularly in regard to issues such as race and legacy. One character that I cannot talk about without getting into spoilers perfectly embodies both themes and reveals the darker side that America and superheroes have. This character also acts as a perfect foil for Sam, who is conflicted with these themes as well. The show investigates just how important the mantle of Captain America is, and that it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The show also feels incredibly satisfying when Sam’s character arc reaches its climax. Everybody watching this show knows that Sam is going to become Captain America, so it is the journey that really matters, and the show nails that.

However, this show falls into many of the same pitfalls that other MCU productions do. The finale is underwhelming, rushing the development of many characters. The villains are terrible in this last episode as well, making Sam and Bucky’s conclusions the only good aspect of it. Additionally, the fight choreography is not bad per say, but the editing in these scenes is very fast, with a lot of shaky cam. Furthermore, the set design is dull, sans one location that cannot be mentioned. These same flaws are comparable to WandaVision, which excelled until the finale. In terms of my favorite episodes, I think the 4th and 5th ones are the most interesting.

All in all, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is very similar to WandaVision. It excels in developing previously undeveloped characters from the MCU, while providing entertaining episodes. However, they both suffer from lackluster villains and messy finales. I personally preferred the more creative and unique WandaVision, but this show was also enjoyable. I personally rank WandaVision as a 7.5 or 8 out of 10, and since I liked that show a bit more than The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I will give this show a solid 7 out of 10.