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REVIEW: "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" Ep. 1

I have to admit, after all the twists and turns of Disney+’s first Marvel original Wandavision (and yes I too fell victim to all the theories which made watching each week even more fun…I’m looking at you Mephisto) I was looking forward to the premiere of The Falcon and The Winter Solider and perhaps a more straightforward action-based Marvel outing to help me recoup. Now don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be a Marvel offering without some surprises, which I am fully expecting from F&WS, but I can’t honestly say that I believe it’ll be on the same level as Wandavison when it comes to this. And while after watching the first episode I’m not setting up a white-board of possible theories (is Agatha the masked baddie…is it truly “Agatha all along”), I thoroughly enjoyed the opening act!

Did I get my action? Definitely! The two main action sequences of the episode: showcasing the Falcon in one and the Winter Soldier (as a flashback) in the other, were of MCU movie quality and didn’t come across as being hindered by perhaps the smaller budget associated with TV shows when compared to blockbuster films. It was also great to see these two characters being the “star” of their own scenes rather than being relegated to support of other characters (namely Captain America). I feel like this is a great way to not only show off their own superhero skills, but also is serving as a great transition to the new Avengers team(s). I am hoping that the quality of action doesn’t drop after an attention-grabbing introduction to the show, but I have complete trust in Marvel providing fans with nothing short of the best!

While action was originally what I was looking for from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I have to say that the aspect I enjoyed the most from episode one was the character building. Even if you’re not an avid comic fan, the MCU films have done a decent job of providing the backgrounds of the main Avengers heroes. However, the secondary heroes, who aren’t afforded as much screen time or stand-alone films for that matter, can sometimes come across as rushed and many viewers are forced to simply accept their existence in this world. The same could have been said about Wanda prior to Wandavision which did an excellent job of building her character (and her relationship with Vision) out to make her a truly stand-out character. However, it seems like Marvel is on the right track again to giving us a “behind-the-cape, mask, metal arm…” look into these two already intriguing characters!

After the first episode, Sam (Falcon) and Bucky (Winter Soldier) have yet to interact as the episode is essentially split into two stories, each focusing on one of the titular heroes. While Falcon’s story so far is focusing on his role as a hero fighting bad-guys for the American government all while trying to support his struggling family’s business, Bucky is facing his own demons as a result of his actions when under the control of Hydra while also trying to fit into “normal” life. It was interesting to see a different side of being a hero and the struggles that go along with it making both seem more like “regular” people and really making it easy to relate to them. In my opinion, Marvel also succeeded in presenting the viewer with acknowledgements of current issues facing society, making the show even more relatable.

Seeing Sam, who has come back to continue working as a superhero for the American government, struggle to get a bank loan to help his sister save the family business, is a prime example of this and also allows Marvel to underscore some of current issues facing today’s society concerning systemic racism. While the bank subplot comes across as a way for Marvel to also address the impact the “Blip” had on those who disappeared, as the teller implies Sam’s income over the past 5 years was problematic, the bigger theme is easy to see. Bucky’s story on the other hand, highlights the plight of many of our veterans in the form of PTSD, having nightmares of his actions as Winter Soldier and even sleeping on the floor rather than his bed, all the while still trying to hide his struggles from everyone else, even the doctor trying to help him. His attempts to “reconcile” with his past actions, seen through his “friendship” with the elderly Yori (the father of an innocent many killed by Winter Soldier while under the control of Hydra) provides another interesting layer to his story.

The opening act, offered up the action I craved, as well as, the character building I didn’t know I needed. However, there was one thing that was missing from this episode that I have come to expect from these two characters, which is understandable due to the setup of the episode itself. While both Falcon and Winter Soldier are great fighters on their own, the thing I have enjoyed about them the most so far in the MCU is the humor that ensues when the two interact. Some of the best lines in the entire MCU come from the two of them just messing with each other and I am VERY much looking forward to that sort of back and forth as I’m definitely thinking we’ll see more of a “buddy-cop” like show as it goes on! Like I said, I understand this as episode one doesn’t have their stories intertwined just yet so there is no interaction between the two, but it was something that kept popping into my head as I watched. However, this felt more like a feeling of anticipation for what is coming rather than disappointment from what was missing.

Before I wrap up, I couldn’t possibly write a reaction to the episode without at least briefly mentioning the surprise appearance (no I’m not talking about James Rhodes aka War Machine who briefly appears at the start of the episode), but the introduction of a new character at the end. Captain America! Wait, he’s not a new character?! I know, I know, you all saw it…BUT, the show did technically introduce who they are calling the “new Captain America.” For fans of the comics, we are assuming this is John Walker who is actually “U.S. Agent” in the comics, but it appears that F&WS might be using this character a little differently? It will be interesting to see where this will go.

Overall, episode one of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was a solid entry into the Marvel universe and not only met my expectations but honestly exceeded it. While I certainly enjoyed the action sequences, it was the back stories that really both surprised me and hooked me. It may be unfair to completely compare this show to Wandavision, but as the only two Disney+ originals that connect into the larger MCU, it is, as Thanos would say, inevitable. Now, I will start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed Wandavision and honestly expect that by the finale of F&WS I will look back and probably say that the predecessor was superior (although you never know). Yet, if was only shown the first episode of each and asked to pick which one I wanted to continue with, I would lean toward the latter. Wandavision’s first episode certainly was intriguing, but also confusing in the sense that I had no idea what was really going on and at that point the show wasn’t the theory-creating phenomena it became by the end. Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s first episode on the other hand, offered a more straight-forward introduction to the show while still offering some intrigue, but again the biggest hook was that feeling of “looking behind the scenes” into the lives of these two heroes and seeing something relatable.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, will follow the same release schedule as Wandavision which new episodes releasing on Disney+ each Friday for a total of 6 episodes and we can’t wait for the next one!

Thanks everyone for reading and we’d love to hear from YOU on what you thought about the first episode! Be sure to leave a comment and continue the discussion on the website or on Facebook (or better yet…BOTH)! See you all soon,

Matt, Krystle, (and Lincoln)

Married to A Disney Addict

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