Review: 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' brings Marvel back to reality
Courtesy of Disney+
When “Avengers: Endgame” concluded, it brought forth many questions about what a “post-snap” universe would look like. The infamous five-year blip was briefly explored in “Spider-Man: Far from Home” and “WandaVision,” but the full dramatic weight of those consequences drives Marvel Studios’ latest: “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” In the first episode provided in advance to critics, we see characters dealing with the ramifications Thanos’ actions caused, and the ripple effect small communities faced in its wake. Undoubtedly, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” gives us the clearest peak into Bucky Barns and Sam Wilson’s internal trauma yet, especially the former whose years as a deadly Hydra operative now fuel his nightmares.
Though we’re currently fighting our way out of a pandemic, society in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” are clawing back too. Now mourning the loss of both Tony Stark and Captain America, all eyes turn to a new batch of Avengers to aid the next generation of heroes. Director Kari Skogland wastes no time flexing the budget, kicking the first ten minutes off with an exhilarating sequence that sees Sam/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) dismantling a Russian aircraft with the United States Air-Force. Meanwhile, Bucky/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) sits on his therapist couch, utilizing a strict code of ethics to make amends with the past and try to reenter society. Not easy for a guy who’s been off the grid (mentally) since World War II and the best moment from episode one is watching Bucky strike up a budding courtship with the local bartender.
On the other hand, Sam’s family business has been struggling and his sister, Sarah (Adepero Oduye) – who ran things while Sam was gone – might have to sell their childhood home. The first episode doesn’t resolve this initial conflict, but it's refreshing to watch Marvel explore heroes coping with honest, real-world problems. You’d never see Falcon applying for an FHA consolidation loan or Bucky Barns playing drunk Battleship on the big screen. If anything, we can appreciate the streaming era for fleshing out these secondary characters who dutifully get the spotlight. The possibilities are endless.
The main conflict remains to be seen, though hints of a past foe are peppered throughout, signaling the direction we could be headed. Politics are briefly touched on too, including a decent cliffhanger guaranteed to send fans into a frenzy. Still, the biggest strength of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” – again after one episode – is how calm and in touch with reality it seems to be. Something tells me, in true Marvel fashion, that won’t be the case as more episodes unspool. For now, it’s a good start.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER debuts on Disney+ Friday, March 19th