Title: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Number of episodes: 6.
Release Date: 2021.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Drama, Science-Fiction.
Series Direction By: Kari Skogland.
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Sebastien Stan, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman, and many more!
Original Network: Disney+.
My Overall Rating:
Also within the Disney+ Marvel Extended Cinematic Universe:
They say action speaks louder than words. It is how a few become icons for the many. These individuals’ every act thus tells us a story about their values, their beliefs, their moral compass. The spotlight remains on their every individual deed and everything they do, and ever did, sums up who they are today. To live the rest of your life with this pressure is to assume every consequence of your behaviour with little room for mistake as they are perceived unforgivable why the common observer. For two superheroes, what they now do with their lives will change them forever as they decide who they want to become going forward, especially when the world is in a state where it so desperately needs people to look up to. With its second project to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to television, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier explores the post-Blip lives of two Avengers’ who have yet to find their place in the world.
What is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) about? Set six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the story follows Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in their quest for identity. With Steve Rogers handing over the mantle of Captain American to Sam Wilson, Sam Wilson/The Falcon has difficulty accepting such a role, constantly tormented by the idea, questioning his own worth and abilities. Fortunately for him, he remains quite occupied with an emerging new threat known as the Flag Smashers, a terrorist group led by Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) who wants the world to acknowledge their demands, believing in unity and a shared resources program. Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes struggles with his newly found freedom and seeks a way to live up to Steve Rogers’ example while searching for forgiveness for his past behaviours as the Winter Soldier. As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier cross paths to confront a common enemy, a new Captain America is handpicked by the government and there might be more to him than meets the eye. Will heroes rise during these trying times?
Despite the short length of this mini-series, it offers fans the opportunity to watch Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes come to terms with their new identities. Intertwined with social and political commentary on terrorism, foreign policies, power struggles, and racism, the story explores both characters’ internal struggles regarding their responsibilities as human beings and superheroes. With each episode, they are challenged to make tough decisions that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with their values, often confronted with ideas rooted in communication, solidarity, and pacifism (which in itself is odd considering the means they take to go off superhero’ing). Without a true understanding of the social and political mechanisms that should be at play, some of their long-winded and shoe-horned dialogues (see the final episode) are incoherent with the characters they were portraying, dishing speeches that ring odd, conveying their opinions out the blue as if it was the absolute truth. Upon the story’s resolution, their transformation remains straightforward. They each understand their purpose and embrace their lives with a new framework that will allow them to move forward and become leaders in their own right.
Unfortunately, this mini-series remains poorly directed, never actually establishing its narrative components to allow its characters to properly embrace their transformation. Take Bucky Barnes’ character whose psychological struggle is heavily focused early in the season, forgotten midway, and impetuously handled by the end. The pacing of several of these key character’s transformations is irregular and kills the viewer’s ability to satisfyingly connect with their plight and conviction. Parallelly, the main villain’s motives are incomprehensible and incongruous. Never are we given the opportunity to fully understand the terrorist group’s motives, for example. Yet somehow the story’s direction articulates its narrative around the concept of antiheroes but none of them (John Walker, Sharon Carter, and Karli Morgenthau) obtain a rewarding story arc that justifies their behaviour and characterization. Likewise, it might as well be said that the Power Broker plot twist was poorly handled.
Unlike WandaVision, this series does reorient itself around the traditional action-driven formula. While it isn’t always impressive, often quite choppy and rushed in editing, there are some exciting moments spread across the series to keep the show afloat. There are several plot holes, including Karli Morgenthau’s ability to fight better than trained and experienced heroes, but one can’t expect too much in terms of logic when the entire series is riddled with similar flaws. Luckily the cinematography and score that drapes this series are fantastic, replicating that which is expected and seen from the blockbuster movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While this mini-series has its fair share of issues that leaves the impression of a patchy product, in the end, there is just enough material in this mini-series to enjoy it as it ultimately serves as a filler for fans until the recently confirmed Captain America 4 installment comes out.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) is an unpolished yet charming story of redemption, patriotism, and justice.