Review: Falcon and Winter Soldier

Heavy SPOILERS for the series

After the sublime wierdness that was WandaVision I had some mixed feelings about FnWS when it started, not that I thought it would be bad, but more just many questions about what the show would be like. Obviously it wasn’t going to be quite the head-spin and mega-twisty of the previous series, so what would FnWS be?

Then in the first scene of the show I was ultra worried: we saw Falcon zooming around off the border of Turkey engaged in physics defying battled with bouncy french dude (actual name) from Winter Soldier. And look don’t get me wrong, the action was fine the dialogue was snappy, all that, but really it just felt kinda flat, I was worried that the show was going to be a series of simliar scenes over some fairly inane something vaguely military something.

Pretty much as soon at that sequence was over the show took a sharp turn into a deep dive that I a. didn’t expect and b. was incredible happy with!

The first twist was that Sam/Falcon decides to place the shield in a museum rather than picking up the mantle of Captain America. His decision isn’t purely based on his own insecurities but his worries of being a Black Captain America. It’s pretty hilarious that pretend not-bigots were trying to get at the series for implying race issues from the first episode when the whole series was about this plot point.

This decision creates a series of tensions – Bucky is upset with the decision, ‘America’ appoints a brand new Captain and we see more of Sam’s personal life where we see his family struggling to maintain their family boat/business.

To be honest I could have watched a series based purely on those issues, but we also are given an overarching plot line of rebels with super-soldier serum (crap I hope I get this plot-point correct) who are fighting against the deportation/resettlement of people returned after the ‘Snap’ (I like the MCU’s attempt to delve into issues arising from the Snap/Blip but I did find it confusing, I think the issue is that following the return of people snapped there are any number of citizenship, ownership and much other issues and at the beginning of the show I believe the prevailing plan that the ‘flag-smashers’ are opposing is to place people returned into the equivalent of refugee camps)

The plot weaves in Wakanda, Baron Zemo, and Sharon Carter who have their own character arcs in response to the various events of the MCU and along with the rest of the fanbase I was oddly drawn and fascinated by the return of Zemo. Many thought that he would essentially be the big bad of the series, but instead he takes the role as a sort of anti-hero protagonist whose goals align with the heroes while his methods most assuredly do not.

What is particularly great about the series is rather than focussing on action pieces the story is effectively about different methods of achieving political goals. Very few of the characters are portrayed as completely evil, or completely flawless either. In fact much of the story is about Sam and Bucky healing rather than defeating the enemy (again which is why I like it so much).

The underlying thematic story of Isiah Bradley gives me goosebumps, its just so perfectly written to show both Sam and Isiah’s change and struggle!

There were a few flaws to the series – at times I think the fit between MCU shallow quippy action didn’t fit with the more complex story of the series (e.g. that first scene I mentioned) but I think in some respects that was almost intentional, showing that the world can’t be simplifed down to action sequences.

Some will also be disapointed in having very little Steve Rodgers resolution involvement – many fan theories were that the series would begin with a funeral for Steve and/or have some input. In fact other than discussion between characters about him there is very little about the previous Captain America. I didn’t really mind it fit with the story to not memorialize Steve, however I think some fans will be annoyed not to know exactly what and where Steve is at. Endgame actually left old-Steve’s fate ambiguous, did he continue on in the MCU timeline as an old dude, some have suggested he might have zipped back to his time-line to finish up his normal life there.

Ultimately my feelings about the MCU is that I am highly pleased that they apear to have utilized the format to tell stranger and deeper stories. I would have been super annoying to have formulaic and familar stories just told each week, both WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier have challenged the MCU to broaden and better the stories and I confess now the question I’m wondering is will future movies have more to offer after enjoying the series so much?

What were your thoughts on FnWS?

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