The one-two punch of both “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and the first episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” is making this week a real treat for superhero fans. After the success of “WandaVision,” many, including myself, greatly anticipated Marvel’s next episodic narrative on Disney+. However, the aspect of “WandaVision” that had me excited was just how weird it seemed. “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” doesn’t have that weird element, as all promotional material has given off the energy and style of the very grounded “Captain America” movies. That being said, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” after just one episode, is leagues above the quality of “WandaVision” and is off to a start that could make it one of my favorite Marvel projects.
What I love so much about where this show begins is how it holds off on the action in favor of strong introductions for where Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are before they come back together. These are two characters who were blipped out of existence for five years after half of Earth’s population was eliminated in “Avengers: Infinity War.” This series picks up with each of them in a very interesting place.
Sam, or The Falcon, is still working with the government as a superhero to work contract jobs but is struggling financially. After being given Captain America’s shield at the end of “Avengers: Endgame,” he struggles with his role as a hero without a role model. He is very much on his own and is working to make his own mark on the world outside of the shadow of Captain America. There’s an excellent arch in the first episode with Sam’s sister regarding a family heirloom that deeply connects to what Sam’s position in the world is.
My favorite part of the premiere was, hands down, Bucky’s development and how he is looking to correct his actions as a mind-wiped hired gun for his entire life. Bucky never had the deepest development in prior films, but in this show, there are rich scenes that elaborate more on his headspace and the steps he is taking to remedy his past actions. He has a friendship with an elderly man throughout this episode. And while this was certainly cute and fun for the majority, a revelation at the end of the episode left me absolutely floored and heartbroken.
With all of this talk on how great these characters are established in just the first episode, I can also firmly say that this is by far the best-written project Marvel has ever produced. It took just a few scenes to mark a notable improvement over a majority of the Marvel feature-length films. There’s an exceptional scene with Bucky and his therapist that digs so deep into the character’s psyche and lays the groundwork for his arc. Dialogue always serves characters, and each scene does more and more to flesh out these two side characters in the major Marvel story.
Aside from me gushing over how great the writing is, the action is also incredible. However, if fighting is your selling point, I may wait until more episodes are released. This first episode has one quick, sleek and well-helmed action scene in the very beginning, but the rest is entirely set up for each character. The two don’t even share a scene together yet, and I am so happy that they choose to take their time with this series rather than diving right in. However, I am excited about the future action because the scene in this episode was a very strong start.
Should you be excited for “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”? Based on this first episode, my answer would be a resounding ‘yes.’ Marvel properties usually always place their priorities in character development, and this show so far has some of the best this franchise has to offer. I didn’t think I would love it this much, but next Friday can’t come soon enough.