For a franchise as massive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s constantly evolving in the stories it tells. “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” expands upon the Marvel mythos, but it also creates a story dealing with issues similar to those in the world today. Our story follows Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who are thrown into a world of espionage. On the hunt to track down a newly formed terrorist group known as The Flag Smashers, this sets them on a course that lets them cross paths with new and familiar faces. What follows is an adventure of violence, politics and what it means to leave a legacy.
Having evolved after a 22 film conclusion in “Avengers: Endgame,” the types of stories Marvel Studios can tell have expanded. We recently had “WandaVision,” which was an incredibly scathing indictment of the grieving process. Now, we have the superhero spin on international and racial politics combined with terrorism. If that sounds convoluted, please don’t worry, you get plenty of Marvel goodness to go around. The top of that pyramid starts with both Stan and Mackie’s brilliant chemistry. This has always been a comedic franchise, but their comradery is an absolute blast. In a brisk six episodes, we get the subtleties and outright homages to classic buddy cop films.
Like more recent Marvel films, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” dig into much deeper social and political areas. This includes the usage of supporting characters like Isaiah Bradley. Exploring the character that became Black Captain America allows the show to explore some interesting ground, as Sam is coming into the ethics of becoming the Captain, especially with being a black man in America. Parallel to this, we see Stan as Bucky Barnes trying to make amends from his actions as the Winter Soldier. That combination of character development works just as well as the season’s cinematic-in-scope action set pieces.
It’s in these moments, which usually involve our villains that the show really gets to shine. This twosome goes up against the Flag-Smashers, their leader Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), the new Captain America John Walker (Wyatt Russell), and familiar faces Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) and Peggy Carter (Emily VanCamp). If you haven’t been watching, half the fun is watching what becomes of certain characters. What I will say of certain characters like Walker is that this is not your typical Captain America. Russell subtly rides the line of hero and anti-hero, which adds quite a bit of unpredictability to his performance. On the other hand, you have a character like Morgenthau, a villain, bringing up an argument that makes sense. Regarding VanCamp, it’s quite easy to get excited about where she will go next in the universe.
The real issue with this first season comes in how things become wrapped up in episode six. Playing like a six-hour movie, the show takes its characters through several interesting avenues while setting up others for the future. With all of that setup, episode six doesn’t provide the closure many may be expecting. Like most Marvel features, many will consider it to simply be a tease to the next property. We get closure to our leads but don’t quite get the closure of the more significant questions the show brings forward. It’s hard to wonder if a seventh episode wouldn’t have tied things together, but the ending feels abrupt. For such a fun and jam-packed journey, something like this was disappointing to see. What isn’t disappointing is how much fun that I had up until that empty finish.
Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWBsDaFWyTE