When Steve and Sharon shared a moment in Captain America: Civil War, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was born, giving Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes a chance to interact. That “can you move your seat up?” interaction set the pace for their tumultuous but oh so entertaining relationship that is the focal point of this new show. For a show which centers around its leads’ chemistry, however, the first episode doesn’t feature the two together –and it works quite well.
Sam opens the show by being unsure of taking the mantle, reflecting on his comments of feeling like the shield “belonged to someone else” in Endgame. It’s a neat angle, giving Sam a chance to step up to the plate and realize he is the right choice for the mantle just as we all know he is. John Walker’s introduction makes this plot inevitable as one will become the government’s Captain America while the other is Steve’s own choice for a successor. It sets up a nice narrative arc for Sam, giving him a chance to step into those big shoes to fill –and let’s face it, we’re all excited to see what his Captain America suit will look like.
Bucky’s been a character that has kind of suffered when it comes to the MCU, never really having a chance to shine or be his own man in the films he’s appeared in. In The Winter Soldier, he’s mostly brainwashed, and by Civil War, he’s dealing with the fallout of that. In the Avengers flicks he’s mostly taking a back seat, relegated to being “Steve’s friend” without much more to do. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduces the MCU to a very familiar Bucky Barnes for longtime comic readers.
Bucky’s past trauma is explored, showing that he still has nightmares and relives these moments in a very Brubaker-esque scene with his therapist. This Bucky is stoic, yet sassy –he almost feels like he jumped out of the pages of Brubaker and Epting’s iconic 2005 comic book run.
One of the core parts of Bucky’s character post Winter Soldier is that he seeks redemption for his acts. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows this quite nicely by giving Bucky a list of people he’s felt he’s wronged. In the comics, Bucky is also historically someone who can be a bit more brutal in the field than the average Avengers –the show does a good job of this when he’s tormenting someone who’s affiliated with Hydra but turns them in at the end of his altercation.
All in all, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sets up a nice, familiar plate for longtime comic fans and an exciting new slate for MCU die-hards. It’ll be nice to see how the show deals with the introduction of iconic Cap characters like Zemo and Sharon Carter in the future, as well as Mackie and Stan finally teaming up.
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