“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” starts with a slow burn
Sophia Michetti | Friday, March 26, 2021
Warning: Spoilers for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” episode one ahead!
The time has finally come for Marvel fans’ favorite two side characters to step into the spotlight with their own six-episode series on Disney+.
On Mar. 19, the pilot episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was released after much anticipation, following the finale of the wildly popular “WandaVision.” Directed by Kari Skogland, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” follows Captain America’s friends Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they find their places in a world that lost some of its greatest heroes in “Avengers: Endgame.” Giving us little action and no rapport between the two main characters, the pilot episode is definitely a slow burn, but it is also the starting point for some epic character development.
Sam Wilson’s story can’t start without a bang, and the beginning of the pilot surely reflects this. Working with the U.S. Air Force, Sam’s opening mission to take down French mercenaries in a North African canyon takes the audience on a wild ride. And subtlety isn’t exactly Sam’s strong suit.
“I wanted us to feel that we were immersed in the action,” Skogland said in an interview with Digital Spy. “I wanted it to have that kind of GoPro feel.”
This creates an interesting viewing experience, because the viewer feels like they’re flying with Sam instead of just watching him. Sam’s story also introduces us to new characters like the young, spirited Torres — who thinks Steve Rogers is watching over everyone on the moon — and Sam’s sister, Sarah, who isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with her brother’s sass. Sam Wilson’s a bold character, who loves to go big or go home, so fans can expect nothing less than for Wilson to make risky choices in future episodes.
Bucky’s story takes a different approach. Having nightmares about his past life as the brainwashed Winter Soldier, Bucky isn’t looking to get into a fight during this pilot episode. In fact, our first scenes with him are in therapy. Trying to make amends for his past, Bucky is attempting to balance his efforts to make up for what he has done as the Winter Soldier and integrate into civilian life at the same time.
What “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” excels at is that the heavy themes presented coincide with light-hearted humor. When the woman Bucky is on a date with asks him his age after he complains about how confusing online dating is — and she laughs when he says he’s 106 years old — the audience can’t help but laugh too. There’s a certain beauty in finding places to laugh in such heavy times, and the pilot episode walks this fine line well. We all fell in love with the elderly Yori getting in a fight over a trash can and asking the cute bartender to play pinochle with Bucky, so finding out Bucky killed his son will make anyone reach for the tissue box.
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” seems to be different from other Marvel content because of how realistic the characters’ problems are. Sam Wilson and his family are facing money troubles while trying to keep their business afloat. Who would have thought that superheroes don’t get paid? Even the bank denies Sam a loan, despite the fact that he helped save the planet multiple times in past movies. Meanwhile, Bucky faces trauma and isolation as he tries to come to terms with his past, and the first episode seems to be setting him up for a journey to find trust in his friends (again). The show even shows signs of a commentary on general society; we all gasped when we saw the ending scene of a new Captain America holding Steve Rogers’s shield — the same one Sam donated to the Smithsonian. The government seems to be trying to maintain a public image of safety by creating another Captain America, but it certainly doesn’t seem respectful to replace someone who did so much for his country.
Fans should be excited for what is to come with the rest of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” When Sam and Bucky finally reunite in the coming episodes, viewers can expect a hilarious rapport between the loud, funny Wilson and the reserved, angsty Barnes. The show is sure to take the audience on a wild ride throughout the world as our heroes battle vigilantes who want a free, anarchic world to do whatever they please, and Marvel lovers will certainly be entertained watching the best dynamic duo the franchise has ever presented.