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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

No Cap: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1 Review.

Updated: Mar 22, 2021



With Wandavision come and gone it’s time for Marvel and their cinematic universe’s next big show, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. Fans of the camp Wandavision are in for something far more subdued and nuanced though. Goodbye to campy theme tunes and hello to more grounded, fist bloodying action scenes. Goodbye witchy superpowers and hello harrowing reminders about racial divides and PTSD.


The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has two leads this time, Sam “The Falcon” Wilson played by Anthony Mackie and Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes played by Sebastian Stan. The show follows their dual journey’s into becoming leading heroes, not just lackies to Captain America. With Steve Roger’s being an old loser now someone has to take up his mantle as Captain America. Why? Because even this fictional America needs huge flashing symbols of their greatness and patriotism they can’t just let that old man rest in peace.


That’s where our two current heroes come into play. As people close to Steve they were both considered for the position of the new Cap. However, episode one of TFATWS positions us already into thinking of these two men as more. They are not just friends of Steve of Captain America’s in training, they’re two pretty interesting characters. Let’s start with Sam.


He’s everything a superhero should be, he’s kind, compassionate, he’s athletic, theatrical, powerful and witty, but from the start, we are seeing Sam being treated like the militaries lap dog. Doing their work but not good enough to represent them in the mantle of Captain America. Is their reasoning race-based? Probably. Think about it, Steve didn’t have an iron suit or telekinesis, he was just kind of strong. What he did have were blue eyes and a chiselled white jaw. Could Marvel finally be making a comment on how we value superheroes of colour?


“We need new heroes, ones more suited to the time’s we’re in.”


Think about it, when Steve Rogers decided to pull a Back to the Future and mess with the timeline, everyone immediately freaked out about who would be Captain America. Most thought it would be Bucky, the former-mind controlled, bad-tempered loose cannon, none of the things Captain America should be. Yet Sam had so many great qualities and more, and Anthony Mackie is a phenomenal actor, but not as many people thought he’d hold the shield. The episode’s final scene, where Sam watches as some rando in spandex is called the New Captain America on TV mirrors this.


There’s more to Sam’s character that is being hinted at in this early episode. He helps his sister out, a woman who wasn’t disappeared in the snap, and had to deal with the fallout all by herself. So there are hints of future family storylines as well that I think will really round out Sam’s character away from just the sidekick or the one in a cast of twenty heroes. He speaks Arabic, he knows how to fix his little flying robot, and he knows how to look after a boat. He’s shaping up to be a great man.


While Sam grapples with the idea that society doesn’t see him as the hero he is rightfully becoming, Bucky is battling himself. Or his past self, the Winter Soldier.


We are reintroduced to Bucky’s character via a dream sequence, taking us back to Bucky’s traumatic past, and his fighting style takes us further into “The Winter Soldier” territory with its precise yet high-impact combat style. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to, it’s evident in this scene along with the scenes with some bad guys that the action and fight sequences are going to be super well-choreographed and satisfying.


Anyway, this fight sequence retells one of Bucky’s kills as the Winter Soldier. He wakes up, panicked, and then has a contentious session with his therapist. There’s already more personality and nuance in Sebastian Stan’s first scene here than there has been for most of his MCU career. To be fair he was a brain warped sidekick before, so he hasn’t had the opportunity he has now to shine, and he’s really doing it so far.


We get another glimpse at this as Bucky goes on the world’s most awkward date where he plays battleship and jokes about being one-hundred, before running off after a grave realisation. The marvel world is tiny because it turns out Bucky’s only friend, an elderly man, is the father of one of the many people that Bucky offed during his Winter Soldier days. This thread sort of cuts short as he stands in the man's doorway. Will he tell him? We’ll see.


There IS a hinting of a centralising storyline on the horizon that will likely bring them together. Across the world, a mysterious organisation called, wait for it, the flag snatchers. Brilliant stuff. Their mission is to bring down international boundaries. This storyline promises to bring together not just the two men, but also Civil War’s Baron Zemo and Sharon Carter.


While the ending of Wandavision still stings, I’m cautiously optimistic that TFATWS will hold me over, and hopefully become its own cultural phenomenon.

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