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Review: “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” takes flight in its first episode

In the latest Disney+ entry, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes return in a post-Endgame Marvel Cinematic Universe.

By Matthew Royer, Staff Writer

Anthony Mackie (left) and Sebastian Stan (right) star in the Marvel TV series "Falcon and the Winter Soldier." (Photo Courtesy of Disney)

More human, less hero.

“Falcon and the Winter Soldier” follows superheroes Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they return to their lives post the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” The two must navigate a world that is familiar yet different as they seek to re-enter society and find their true paths in life. All that is well does not always end well as new threats arise, propelling the heroes back into action whether they like it or not.

The first episode of the series, “New World Order,” starts on a somber note, but immediately throws the viewer into the action. The Falcon, Wilson, is now a military-contracted asset carrying out missions the U.S. military cannot perform. The viewer is taken on an aerial trip as Wilson flies through the skies as he targets his objective.

While the previous Marvel Disney+ entry “Wandavision” took some time to feature the classic Marvel action, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” does not waste any time getting back to the stunning sequences fans have grown to love.

Seconds into the episode, the trademarked Marvel style of action segments flash in front of the viewer’s eyes. While featuring stunning visuals and a made-for big-screen hero moment, director Kari Skogland promptly delves the show into a character drama that begs the question if heroes are still human underneath their grandeur and celebrity status.

The episode is at its strongest when the show reintroduces Barnes to the forefront. After the events of the “Captain America” trilogy and “The Avengers” films, Bucky has encountered a lot. Through clever flashbacks shown through the character’s PTSD, a therapy scene that pulls on the heartstrings and new characters introduced, Barnes’s need to cope with the life he has led creates a new avenue of which Marvel Studios has not traveled down to this point.

This character study does not end with just Barnes. Wilson is tossed back into his family life as well, discovering the problems he has not been there to help with. Wilson returns home to Louisiana to his widow sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye), who is dealing with the loss of her husband and parents, all while raising two sons. She swiftly realizes that “Uncle Sam” is not going to fix all of her problems. This forces Wilson to take into account the sacrifices others have made while he was away.

Series stars Mackie and Stan are able to take their previous sidekick characters and mold them into something more, shining when entering the spotlight.

Marvel is at its best when the viewer is able to view the human side of superheroes. With this entry to the cinematic universe, a world of chaos has revealed cracks that have not only formed within the fabric of society but also the everyday lives of those who are meant to save the day. While threats seem to be emerging and crime-fighting action is sure to ensue, look for the relationships and emotion to carry this show through its first season.

“Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is sure to keep viewers interested. Whether it’s more soap than action or not, look for this series to soar to new heights from week-to-week.


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