With Marvel’s cinematic slate somewhat stalled for the last year or so for probably obvious reasons we have been treated to a bit of a break from the MCU, as it had been becoming somewhat overwhelming, and then Wandavision twisted expectation for an MCU TV show rather nicely, but now another series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier has landed in Disney+ too.
Picking up after the events of Avengers: Endgame with The Falcon, aka Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), on active duty but conflicted about being given the shield by Captain America and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), aka Winter Solider, undergoing government mandated therapy in return for a pardon.
Of course the calm doesn’t continue and soon a new group of super villain terrorists, the Flag Smashers, appear and the action adventure side of the series deals with the titular duo’s attempt to take them on with a cameos from a few other characters we’ve already met and a few new ones being thrown into the mix too.
All of this is rather par for the course of the more standard Marvel fare and, while the extra characters add a few interesting wrinkles, and the bickering relationship between the leads is engaging enough, it ultimately just feels a bit standard, particularly following on from Wandavision.
Along with the action adventure side, the story explores Wilson’s reticence to take up the mantle of Captain America left to him by Steve Rogers and, while this felt like it might be a bit of a lip service side plot at the start, as the series goes one, it is given room to breathe far more than I expected, with the issues around his race being particularly well handled, and having far more than it would had this been a movie.
So, while Bucky and Falcon and fighting their way from the Middle East, to Madripoor (a fictional Far Eastern island nation), to Eastern Europe and, of course, back to New York, we get to meet Wilson’s family, a fairly mysterious new character who provides something of a mirror to Wilson, and ultimately an exploration of race in a America that, while I’m not going to claim it’s fully in depth, is well done for this genre.
While the final episode does take things fully back into classic Marvel third act territory, the range of characters means it is more well done than some and even if the ending is maybe a bit too neat it seems to usher in the next set of movies, with the new MCU world without Rogers or Tony Stark reestablished and ready for whatever maybe to come next.