TFATW Review

Allie D’Amato reviews the newest TV installment within the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Photo from IMDB

Not friends, not partners, but coworkers. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is the newest of the Marvel mini-series to release on Disney Plus; its initial premier date was on March 19, with new episodes, each about 45 minutes long, being released weekly. The show follows the lives of Sam Wilson (the Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) as they navigate their lives post “Avengers: Endgame.” The plot includes very intense and action-packed scenes that introduce new villains and challenges; however, the storyline also ties in very contemporary topics that are relevant to today’s society, outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The main narrative of the show revolves around a threatening terrorist group called the Flag-Smashers, and how they bring violence and danger to society after the reintegration of the people lost to the “Blip.” Among these terrorists are eight super soldiers, and they hope to obtain more super soldier serum to create an army of sorts to establish authority and gain power. Sam and Bucky embark on a mission to stop the Flag-Smashers, and along the way, they have to overcome certain obstacles, both pertaining to their private lives and the larger mission at hand, that stand in their way. 

Marvel always does a great job with their productions, and I have to say, I was not disappointed. As a fan, I feel really appreciative that Marvel has started developing series rather than movies, as it gives more time for audiences to learn about the characters’ personal lives, instead of watching them fight villains for most of their time on screen. This show focuses on the intense hardships and personal struggles that both Sam and Bucky are facing as people, not heroes. 

Bucky has to deal with his past as an assassin, attending therapy sessions weekly and struggling to come to terms with his identity. Sam, on the other hand, has to deal with his racial barriers as a Black man and the notion of upholding the legacy of Captain America. Both Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, respectively, gave raw and emotional performances which authentically embodied each of their characters’ psychological strain. Sam and Bucky have been a part of the MCU for quite a while, and this series helped effectively establish their backstories; I found myself increasingly invested in their feelings and lifestyles. 

On a more technical note, the costumes and sets were all impeccably designed. Bucky finally got a long-awaited haircut, and he and Sam both got some noticeable suit upgrades. Redwing is probably my favorite spec out of any Avenger suit, so I was really happy when he made appearances in a couple episodes. So far, all the Phase Four suits have all been phenomenal, and I’m excited to see what’s next in store. 

Some old and new characters were introduced, and fans, including myself, had very strong reactions. Baron Zemo, previously appearing in “Captain America and the Winter Soldier,” returned, and he undoubtedly made for some pretty entertaining scenes. Following the Monica-Darcy-Jimmy trio from “Wandavision,” I didn’t think that there could be a more lovable group; but when Bucky, Sam, and Zemo teamed up in Madripoor, I became a little too obsessed with their dynamic. They were just badass, there’s simply no other way to put it. Zemo took on more of a “good guy” type role this time around, so I was rooting for him throughout the show. 

Ayo, a Wakandan soldier, and Sharon Carter, who was previously seen in “Captain America: Civil War,” also returned. Reflecting on Sharon’s past with Steve, I didn’t know what to think about her coming back; without her, Bucky and Sam would definitely be dead. She was a big asset to Bucky and Sam’s team, but I’m still unsure how I feel about her, especially due to the fact that she left the audience with a major cliffhanger in the series finale. 

Two of the most prevalent new characters were Karlie Morganthou, the Flag-Smashers’ leader and John Walker, the “new” Captain America. All I have to say about these two is that I hated them with every fiber of my being. In every episode, both strutted around, behaving immorally and unjustly, blind to their privileges. Granted, I understood some of Karlie’s follies, as she was fighting for a cause, but John Walker just pissed me off. Everything he did was for the benefit of himself, and he was incredibly impulsive and rage-inducing. Marvel tried to redeem him as somewhat useful in the finale, but I still hate him. 

One more thing I wanted to bring up, which I thought was incredibly important, was the underlying theme of racism. Sam struggled with the thought of carrying on the legacy of Captain America as a Black man, and after meeting Isaiah Bradley, another newly introduced character, he was reminded of the oppression and overshadowing the black community has had to face for centuries. This motivated Sam to reach his full potential, instilling a sense of pride within him when he held Cap’s shield. I thought this was beautifully written and embedded within the story, as it stimulated discussions about who and what a superhero can be.

All in all, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was a great watch, and I will definitely be binging it again after the stress of imminent AP testing blows over. Sam and Bucky are two of my favorite Avengers, and I’m so incredibly excited to see what’s to come next for them in the MCU. I just hope that Bucky decides to keep his hair short for a little while; I admit, his Jesus memes are pretty hilarious.