“Falcon and Winter Soldier” soars

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Photo courtesy of imdb.com

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan star in the new Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

Jeffrey Crosten, Entertainment Editor

With the change in Marvel Studios’ direction for releasing content, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is the second Disney+ exclusive show from Marvel that has had one full season released. The season has a total of six episodes, each with some sort of action sequence(s).

The two main leads of the show, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, are played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Shan, respectively. The dynamic these two have is probably one of the show’s strongest aspects, if not the strongest of the show. These two have extremely good chemistry and although some jokes are used at inappropriate times, most of the humor comes from these two characters and a decent amount of it landed.

Both characters have problems they have to come to terms with. For Sam, it’s whether or not he can take up the mantle of Captain America, and for Bucky, it’s receiving government-mandated therapy and trying to recover from the actions he performed while brainwashed as the Winter Soldier. This conflict is taken to a whole new level when he finds out an older gentleman he is friends with named Yori, lost his son to Bucky while he was controlled.

There is tension between these two, because of Sam’s decision to give up the shield instead of Sam fulfilling the role. Bucky respected Steve’s decision to pass the shield to Sam, and Sam not taking it is disrespectful in Bucky’s eyes.

Due to Sam giving up the shield, the U.S. government selects a new Captain America to pass the shield to in John Walker, played by Wyatt Russell. Walker exemplifies some questionable character traits while being Captain America. He is arrogant, brash, and will go to any lengths to accomplish his mission, traits the old Captain did not have. This presents a unique character study on the idea that our societal idols are not perfect or flawless human beings.

The main antagonists of the show is a terrorist group known as the Flag Smashers. Their mission statement is to restore the world to what it was like during the five years after Thanos snapped his half of all life out of existence, a world without borders and helping everyone in times of need. They are directly against the Global Repatriation Council, who wishes to restore the world to what it was before the “blip”.

The leader of the Flag Smashers is Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), similar to Walker in the sense that she will also do anything to accomplish her goal and to send a message. She, along with other members of the Flag Smashers, have received the super soldier serum that Bucky also has, which did make them a believable threat and competent antagonistic force.

Helmut Zemo, a previous MCU villain who was present in “Civil War” also makes his reappearance. Sam and Bucky broke him out of jail in return for his help. His return and fulfilling more of an “anti-hero” role was interesting and he was also a source for a lot of the show’s humor.

The show had a good setup, and I enjoyed the first 3 episodes. The action in each episode was well choreographed, albeit with some lackluster set pieces, but they were still engaging and entertaining. The buddy cop aspect of Sam and Bucky’s relationship is also prevalent in these episodes which was very humorous and fun to watch develop.

Although I praise the first three episodes and their setup, Episode 4 and 5 were definitely the most interesting and best of the series.

I enjoyed the show, as I do most marvel films, but the 2 main problems I had with it were some of the writing and the rushed finale. Although good, the finale was definitely rushed and I feel like this has to do with the fact that Marvel is still new to TV, and they will be willing to take more risks with their shows, rather than trying to wrap everything they can by the end of a 1 season, six-episode show.

However, Sam in the finale was extremely cool.

Zemo’s inclusion, although welcome, was also a bit confusing since he was a very prominent MCU villain that led the Avengers to slip up, and we were suddenly supposed to laugh at his jokes almost as if he never did anything. However, it is hard to argue against him in the show due to how funny he actually was. Actor Daniel Bruhl, definitely added a lot to the character.

Even though I did enjoy these episodes, they did seem somewhat formulaic since it always involved Sam and Bucky going on some sort of adventure to find the Flag Smashers after finding a lead. The action that followed at least was usually very fulfilling and satisfying.

Despite all of this criticisms and some nitpicks, I still enjoyed the show overall. The themes were relatively well handled despite the rushed finale, the characters were delightful mostly due to the actors’ great portrayal of them, and like I’ve gone on record saying, the action was great and I’m glad there was a decent amount of it.