Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are gone, and with the world still torn into pieces after half of its population was suddenly vanished by Thanos’ snap for five whole years, the two newest additions to the Avengers, Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, and Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, like so many others are grappling to find their place in this new post-Blip era. But if that wasn’t enough, the fresh heroes are also facing some additional problems: radical conspiracy groups thinking everything was better before the Blip, having to work with old foes, and a new superhero wearing a familiar suit.
Just like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Marvel’s latest TV adventure, deals with life in the aftermath of the Blip. While Wanda Maximoff reacted by creating a fake suburbia to escape reality, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is jetting around the world on military missions in his sleek Falcon suit and helping his sister on the side, who is trying her best to raise two boys and keep the inherited family business running at the same time. Turns out the disappearance of one half of humanity can really take its toll on the economy.
As a rather unexpected addition, Sam also finds himself wrestling with his new responsibilities and the immense pressure that comes with trying to become the new version of Captain America, the role once taken on by his good friend Steve Rogers. They are big shoes to fill. Too big for the new Avenger, as he decides to lay down the shield and focus on his work as The Falcon. A decision he quickly is seen to regret, as the country is crying out for a new hero to represent the good in its favourite colours blue, white and red, and soon finds him in the form of John Walker, a former military legend, who we yet have to find out has intentions at heart that are actually as heroic as implied or not.
Elsewhere, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), is grappling with PTSD brought on by memories of the rather violent crimes he committed pre-Blip while working for the evil organisation called Hydra. Like Sam, he’s trying to put his life back together, going to therapy every few days and turning in former Hydra associates instead of killing them in cold blood.
It takes a short while for the two freshmen to meet, the pair bumping into each other in an aircraft hangar and immediately getting down to superhero super-banter, immediately taking the experienced fans back to humorous scenes in Captain America: Civil War. It is very clear that these two do not really get along well, but that is more part of the series’ charisma than anything else. Jumping from one heroic quip to the next, it’s the search for the Flag-Smashers, the presumed villains of the show, that keeps them on the same path and even sees them cross ways with another familiar villain that came close to breaking up the Avengers the first time he tried – Zemo.
After the absolute gamechanger WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is one more proof that Marvel Studios treats its television shows exactly the way it treats its films in terms of scope and ambition. Everything about it, including its heart and humour, feels comfortably familiar to anyone who’s found a home in the MCU. With the one or other nod to past movies for fully fleshed fans and enough information given during the show, the series is perfect for newcomers and OGs alike. And while always bringing the story back to characters we’ve come to love and admire during the past few years, the show frequently underlines its timeliness with references to vaccines and racial profiling by the police. Packed with stellar action scenes, exquisite banter and enough twists and hidden secrets to keep us peeled to the screen, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is another dazzling Marvel outing that serves as the perfect counterpart to WandaVision’s weird, magical cinematic ride.
Written by Laura Weingrill