HomeTelevisionThe Falcon and The Winter Soldier Premiere Review: Way Better Than Advertised

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Premiere Review: Way Better Than Advertised

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnik

It’s tough and probably unfair to compare WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. However, to fully expound on the title of this review, it’s on me to do so.

The trailers for both of these series hit the digital sphere around the same time and for this reviewer, only one of them stood out – the sublimely weird, Twin Peaks-ian original trailer for WandaVision. The trailer grabbed you immediately with its beautiful visual palette and its bewildering premise – both of which gave it a “must-watch” factor.

In comparison, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier felt like a bland rehash of the very tired “odd couple/buddy cop” action comedy film that’s dominated the industry for nearly 40 years. The trailers hit all the notes: bickering, bullets, and bad humor. This did not feel like appointment television.

Yet, the premiere of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was anything but what the trailers promised. Yes, there were big action sequences, but the heart of the series premiere is rooted in the same heartbreak and isolation of WandaVision – superheroes living in a post-Blip world and all the complexities that lie within it.

For all those worried, action still plays a major part in the series. The opening sequence featuring Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie, Outside the Wire) in a missile and gun-filled air chase with a group of terrorists (lead by UFC legend and Captain America: The Winter Soldier alum, Georges St. Pierre) was absolutely thrilling. Visually, the decision to have the chase filmed to vacillate between breathtaking sweeping wide shots to tight claustrophobic shots added to the suspense of the scene. The visual and tonal changes used in this sequence are handled masterfully, and if this is the sign of what’s to come for the action of the series then fans are in for a real treat.

Yet, the action is not the heart of the premiere. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier really drives home, like WandaVision did at the end of its run, how the world and the Avengers are dealing with the post-Blip world where billions of people have returned. We learn, via an exposition dump from James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle, Avengers: End Game), that the return of the billions lost for five years has turned the world upside and factions like The Flag Smashers (presumably the big bads for the series) are trying to tear the world apart. The lack of iconic heroes like Captain America is a huge issue when it comes to unifying the world and solving a lot of crises that currently plague it.

However, it’s not just the world plagued by the Blip. It’s our lead characters. We find Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan, Captain America: Civil War) ravaged with the grief of all the death and loss he’s caused in his life. In a very poignant and powerful moment, he tells his therapist (Amy Aquino, Bosch) that this is the first time in 90 years he hasn’t been in a fight. And while he might not be engaged in actual warfare, the war within Barnes is raging hard. His efforts to right the wrongs from his life are seemingly not working for him as evidenced by one of the premiere’s great reveals involving Barnes.

Parallel to this is Sam Wilson’s fight to be a hero – not to the world anymore, but to his family. Sam’s story can actually be viewed as more tragic than Bucky’s. Bucky was a brainwashed assassin for decades, mostly unable to control his actions, and his time to process all of this was delayed by his involvement in the battle against Thanos. In Sam’s story, he returns home, thinking that he’ll be treated as a hero and that he’ll (figuratively) swoop in to save the day once again. However, all his posturing and grandiose ideas come crashing to reality when his fame and renown cannot secure a bank loan for his family’s business (in a scene that also addresses racial inequality) and his sister calls him out on abandoning his family for the military and his Avengers exploits instead of dealing with the passing of his father.

It’s fascinating that, much like WandaVision, this series decides to focus on the trauma of a post-Blip world as opposed to immediately diving into the “next phase” narrative of the MCU. The fact we don’t even see the two teaming up in the premiere was a bold and wise move. We want to see the journey that’s going to bring these two men – scarred by battle, by the loss of the constant in their lives (Captain America), and trying to deal with a world that might not need them as heroes anymore – together as a team. That has the potential to be fascinating.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier might not hold this emotional, character-driven course through its next five episodes. The announcement of the “new” Captain America (Wyatt Russell, Overlord) and the eventual reveal of Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl, Inglorious Basterds) as the probable leader of The Flag Smashers will bring us back into that MCU territory, much like the end of WandaVision did. However, for right now The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiere delivered something completely unexpected: rich, emotional storytelling anchored by surprisingly complex performances, garnished with a wonderfully constructed action sequence. The potential for this series is massive and here’s hoping they capitalize on it.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Premiere is Now Streaming on Disney+.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.


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