Caution: Spoilers ahead!
Created by Malcom Spellman and directed by Kari Skogland, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is a down-to-earth action story, diving into the societal aftermath of half the world population returning after five years. The show deals with the impacts of the Super Soldier Serum while confronting issues of systemic racism through the characters of Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), John Walker (Wyatt Russell), and Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). I usually prefer bizarre and cool superpowered beings in Marvel movies, but the first few episodes really blew my mind with how much the real world issues intrigued me. Even though it had a weaker ending, it was still a very enjoyable experience nonetheless.
There were many multidimensional plots set up at the beginning, but the one I found most interesting was the intertwining conflicts: Sam against Bucky, the two against John (and Lemar, kind of), Bucky against Zemo, and the ‘good guys’ against the Flag Smashers. It isn’t just the clichéd trope of evil villains against benevolent heroes; the villains are given more dimension through conflicts arising amongst themselves, and the heroes also experience character growth independent of the villains. There are even connections between the two opposing parties, such as Sam and Karli, who both strive towards the same goal with starkly different approaches. Additionally, the down to earth story between Sam and Sarah gives the show a more uplifting tone, but Isaiah Bradley’s (Carl Lumbly) story from the comics makes the story darker and heavier—all establishing an enjoyable contrast of tones.
However, the ending was quite… questionable. The good parts are good, but many arcs were left unfinished. John’s arc is thrown out the window, with him being helpful for no reason just to make things look better for the ‘good guys.’ Karli’s once relatable goal is executed way too unrealistically for her character, and she just regresses into more of an average villain. Sarah and Sam’s problem in Louisiana kind of faded away as well. My favorite plot resolution is Isaiah’s, who shares many emotional and powerful scenes with Sam throughout the course of the series. Despite the awkward wrap up of some plots, the show was still extremely entertaining nonetheless, with action-packed scenes and notable dialogue.
Sam and Bucky’s characters are both thoroughly developed throughout the show—Sam dealing with the weight of taking the shield as a Black man, and Bucky trying to make amends to his cruel past. The relationship between the two also developed nicely, but predictably. Sam and Bucky were struggling when dealing with their problems alone, but were inevitably brought together, and through this partnership, they were able to resolve both of their problems. Either heroically or depressingly, they both came to realise their newfound self.
However, some of the other characters feel like a missed opportunity. Sure, it’s very cool to see Zemo and Sharon Carter again, but they don’t serve a big purpose in developing characters within the show. John seems like he was created to be hated, and the creators did a good job because I did not like him. His character playing into the plot starts strong and it was quite a shocking moment when he kills a Flag Smasher, but he has no resolution at the end. His role as U.S. Agent sets up a future conflict in the Marvel Cinematics Universe, along with Sam’s mantle as Captain America and Bucky’s return as the White Wolf.
This show is action-packed and entertaining all the way through, and it was great to see the wings and shield in motion again. The good outweighs the bad in this four-star show, which seems more like a very long movie due to its sophistication. If you somehow haven’t watched it yet: Marvel fan, definitely watch it; not a Marvel fan, still watch it.