Review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

John Ergon Golpe ’24


At long last, Disney Plus’s original series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has concluded. The six-episode-long adventure starring Avengers Sam Wilson, AKA the Falcon, and Bucky Barnes, AKA The Winter Soldier, adds to the ever-expanding  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)  mythos.  

Despite what the trailers and TV spots had us believe, the show was not going to be just a buddy cop adventure series (but would still have its fair share of that style, thankfully). Much to our surprise, Sam Wilson, despite Steve Rogers’s wishes to inherit the mantle of Captain America towards the end of Endgame, thought that he was not worthy of carrying the star-spangled vibranium shield. Instead, he decided it would be best if it was retired in a display at a museum in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to properly honor the weapon’s legacy. And instead of taking up the mantle, he would join the US Air Force, still using his moniker of the Falcon.  

Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes would retire his infamous alter ego of the Winter Soldier and live his days in the U.S.A., going through government-mandated therapy to deal with the guilt of taking the lives of his victims all those years ago. Bucky even makes his own attempts to right his wrongs, befriending the father of one of his victims, hoping to tell him the truth, but never going through with it until the very end of the series. It was a promising character arc for Bucky Barnes but would ultimately be under-utilized in favour of furthering Sam’s arc, much like other concepts and characters this show uses.  

One painfully prominent example of this show’s problem of under-utilization i the main antagonists of this show: Wyatt Russell’s Captain America, and Karli Morgantheau, played by Erin Kellyman. Each one of these actors did an impeccable job with their performances but their characters were forced to share the spotlight. This left us with the phony Captain America receiving an undeserved redemption arc in the climax, resulting in his new vigilante role as U.S. Agent. Karli ended up being completely outshined by him and Zemo, who was most definitely the better antagonist among the three. This show would have benefited immensely from the addition of at least another two episodes, like The Mandalorian and WandaVision, so that these characters could have their arcs fully realized. There was also the subplot of another returning character, Sharon Carter, secretly being the Power Broker of Madripoor. The reveal at the final episode was disappointing due to lack of surprise, but to make her a villain is an interesting place to take the character.  

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has its strengths and weaknesses, but despite its downsides the show fulfilled its job of introducing Sam Wilson as the new Captain America, and is a fun side note from more substantive Marvel properties.

Photo Credit: IndieWire/Christian Zilko  

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