“Avengers: Endgame” left The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) with the iconic shield of Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, and Bucky Barnes (Sebastien Stan) AKA The Winter Soldier on the side of good after overarching Infinity-saga villain Thanos had been defeated.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” pretty much picks up right after “Endgame,” with Sam giving up Captain America’s shield, presumably to be placed in a museum, as he rejected the Captain America mantle, believing it belonged to Steve and only Steve.
The episode also has an intense and pretty well done aerial fight sequence in which Sam must rescue a US operative from foreign mercenaries that are fully equipped to handle him, making clever use of flight suites and helicopters to give them a chance against The Falcon. And it pretty much was a movie quality fight sequence, using a good mix of practical fight choreography and fantastical CGI sequences that would fit comfortably in a “Captain America” movie.
Sam also has a secondary plot in which he has to help his sister, Sarah (Adepero Oduye), get a loan to help fix their family boat, in which we suffer through an insulting sequence in which the two sit before a condescending banker who wants a picture with Sam, but is unwilling to approve them for a loan. And apparently Avengers get paid in goodwill (seriously, why?), so despite the fact that he has a billion dollar Falcon combat suit and is sent on missions too dangerous for normal soldiers, it looks like Sam has essentially no money.
Meanwhile, Bucky is dealing with the aftermath of his decades of killing, something the MCU films glossed over after “Civil War”. He got pardoned for the crimes he did while mind-controlled as the Winter Soldier, and must make amends to those close to the people he killed, but under three conditions, two of which are he can’t hurt anyone or do anything illegal. We see him bust a senator he helped get elected as the Winter Soldier, which counts towards his amends, thought he episode kicks off an even more interesting plotline in which he befriends an old man, who is unaware Bucky killed his son a while ago.
Bucky has always been a chaotic, half-baked, rushed character the movies developed just enough so we could care about him, but was lost in the sea of other MCU characters as Marvel’s “Infinity War” fanfare began, so it’s nice that the studio is taking the time to develop him.
Some not very big spoilers (if you watched the trailer, this is already spoiled), despite the fact that it seems Captain America’s shield was headed for a museum, the U.S. government, being the U.S. government, at the end of the episode revealed that they had recruited a new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) in Sam’s place.
Despite the fact that he only appears in a scene, I don’t like this guy, and I am already rooting against him, not only because it goes directly against what Steve Rogers wanted at the end of “Endgame” — for Sam to take the mantle — but he just looks like a poser. Captain America? More like Captain Pretender.
Seeing as we’re on Episode One, and I’m planning on reviewing these episodes weekly, I thought it would be fun to make some predictions. Long-term, I don’t think Captain Pretender is going to pan out, and I think by the end of the series, Sam will find himself and take up the mantle of Captain America, like Steve wanted, and I think it’ll take a cameo appearance from Chris Evans to clarify exactly what he meant in “Endgame” and to help give him the guidance to find himself. The Falcon has always been a secondary character, so this series will probably function as his origin story, similar to what “WandaVision” did for Scarlet Witch. And I think Bucky will find inner peace, but only because there’s not much to do with his character at this point other than have him atone for his sins, and set him up for future projects.
Overall, this was a pretty good episode, but I wasn’t blown away. It feels like a “Captain America” film, but not enough happened to get me hooked. Still, it’s worth checking out, but feel free to wait until episode two or three comes out to see if this series is for you.
“The Falcon and The Winter Solider” Season 1: Episode 1 “New World Order” gets a 7/10