Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

More Tease, Falcon

The Falcon And
The Winter Soldier

Air Date: March 19th - April 23rd 2021
Nine Episodes

Warning: This one has all the relevant
spoilers... you have been cautioned.

Okay, so the second of the post-Avengers: Endgame internet shows, following on from the very interesting WandaVision (reviewed here), is The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Now, this is going to turn out to be a very short review, I think because... well, a) I mostly had no huge problems with it overall and b) it’s a very simple story with a little bit of character development in it but also a heck of a lot of action. So it would be fair to say, I think, that nothing much happens in this one.

It was pretty obvious from the announcement of the show that the intention of this series was pretty obvious. One, they needed to have the previously ‘at each others throats for the most part’ pairing of Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier) go through a healing process and get some bonding there so the characters could be friends by the end of the last episode. And, yes, that indeed happened. The second thing which I thought was an obvious thing was, they would need to set up the events which happened in the comics for a while (and which I already thought had more than enough set up at the end of the aforementioned Avengers Endgame to require anything further but... here we are). Namely, they had to have The Falcon taking over the mantle of Captain America. And they tried to be oblique about it by having Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) in there as the new Captain America but, yeah, pretty much everyone knew he was going to become U.S. Agent by the end of the show, right? The truth is, when Bucky brought Sam a new set of wings from Wakanda in the fifth episode, it was pretty obvious that when Sam did eventually open up the suitcase, that he’d find a new suit which is basically The Falcon painted up as the new Captain America.

So, yeah, no surprises in this but the writing is good and, it turns out, Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier), both reprising their roles from various Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, actually have good chemistry and it’s quite fun to watch the cynical ‘partnership’ evolve over the course of the six episodes. The story features both cameos and more substantial roles from regular characters/actors in the movies, such as Don Cheadle as War Machine, Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter (niece of Agent Peggy Carter). There’s also a few of the female warrior women from Wakanda in the mix, in one of the few surprising moments in the show.

And it’s straight forward action fodder for sure but, it works really well, is pacey and often feels like there’s more at stake than there probably actually is. One bizarre change, however, is the transformation of the comic book character Karl Morgenthau, aka Flag Smasher, into a woman... Karli Morgenthau, played by the wonderful Erin Kellyman (who played the young girl who started the rebellion against the Empire in Star Wars - Solo... reviewed here), who leads a group of terrorists known as the ‘flag smashers’. Her presence brings one of the few attempts at tonal colour in the show as The Falcon wrestles with the idea of bringing down and stopping a perceived ‘terrorist’ whose ideals he believes in, while obviously not approving of her ‘murder everyone’ methods.

Actually, if there’s one criticism I could level at the show, if I really felt the need, it might be that it was just too much emphasis on action throughout and not enough talk but, honestly, Marvel does this stuff so well at the moment that I honestly didn’t mind it. One of the things which did make me concerned was the idea that Sharon Carter is ‘the powerbroker’ and, at the end when she is welcomed back to the US government, it’s made quite clear in a post credit scene that she’s definitely the villain of the piece, ready to sell the secrets of the US Government to the highest bidder. Which is a bit of a turnaround for the character, I believe... unless of course, she’s a Skrull version of her character. That’s something which is an alley the writers could definitely go down after the scenes pertinent to that little subplot in Spider-Man Far From Home (reviewed here) and WandaVision.

One of the things which is a shame is the inclusion of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Her character has a very strong, ‘non-introduction’ in this when she first contacts the person she will recreate as U.S. Agent. There’s not much information given to the audience (nor the other characters) about who she is and the reason is, I believe... coronavirus. Yep. Turns out, from what I can understand, this character was supposed to be a call back to her first appearance in the new Black Widow movie (out soon at cinemas, maybe) but, of course, because of the pandemic, the release of the movie was severely delayed so it turns out this is our ‘by proxy’ introduction to her character. So, yeah, I guess that character doesn’t die in the upcoming movie then.

Another grumble might be why, with the subplot of the first black Super Soldier from the Second World War, that they didn’t get Chris Evans back to do a cameo in the last episode but, well, I guess that would have put a lot more strain on the budget. As it is, in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier... well... all I will say is that Baron Zemo has all the best scenes here. I also liked composer Henry Jackman revisiting thematic elements from his score to Captain America - The Winter Soldier (reviewed here) for some of these sequences involving characters from that movie.

And that’s that for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Like I said, a short review for a short series which did the job it needed to do and, yeah, we’re already hearing that there will be a fourth Captain America movie headed up by Anthony Mackie as Cap (please change his costume... the new one doesn’t work guys... it just looks clunky) and Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier. Yeah, that could probably work well but... I think having a Captain America who doesn’t have the benefit of the Super Soldier serum is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, even for Marvel comics fans, to be honest. We shall see, I guess.

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