Reviewing season 1 of the Falcon and The Winter Soldier is tricky, since it’s a little bit different from the other Marvel series. The Netflix shows have a different feel to them, with more adult themes, and the humor has a different tone, focusing more on character than cheap gags. There’s no real overarching story like you get in the traditional shows, and the pacing is a lot slower, instead of cramming in as many action scenes as possible.
James ‘Bucky’ Barnes (Sebastian Stan) triggers the memories of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) at the end of Captain America: The Winter Solider. This sets Steve on a path to find out what happened to Bucky and why. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Season 1 Review is the first step on that journey and it’s the best reviewed season of any TV show of 2014 with the critics.
Lead actor: Anthony McKee, Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman
Created: Malcolm Spellman.
Sam: What’s going on in your cyborg brain?
Bucky: You don’t want to know.
Sam: Oh yeah, I see it working. The gears are turning. Oh, they’re not working right! They’re burning!
Bucky: God, I hate you.
The Man With The Stars (Season 1 Episode 2)
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a return to form for Marvel. After Covid and the experimental sitcom Mystery WandaVision in 2020, it’s time to return to heroes fighting bad guys and terrorists. Can the Falcon and the Winter Soldier get along, or should they part ways? We’ll find out.
Walker: I’m not trying to be Steve. I’m not trying to replace Steve. I’m just trying to be a better Captain America. Here’s how. It would have been much easier if I had Cap’s co-pilot by my side.
Sam: It’s always the last line.
The Man With The Stars (Season 1 Episode 2)
Steve Rogers stepped down as Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame, but it casts a long shadow. Falcon and Winter Soldier focuses on his allies and those who want to follow in his footsteps.
Sam Wilson has been given the famous Endgame shield, but doesn’t want to become Captain America. He doesn’t think he can match the legacy of Captain America, and the struggle to be a black man representing America. He gives the panel to the Smithsonian Institution and washes his hands of it.
Sam returns to his native Louisiana to help his sister’s struggling fish business. Despite his fame as an Avenger, he finds that there is little he can do to help, causing him to doubt himself more. Soon Sam finds himself once again involved in the investigation of a terrorist group, the Flag Wreckers.
Bucky was in therapy while processing his actions as a Winter Soldier. Although he is doing better, he still feels lonely and has trouble opening up to others. Worse, he discovers that he killed the son of one of his only friends and can’t admit it.
Bucky feels betrayed when Sam gives up the shield and fights him over it. This leads Bucky to involve him, both to get an answer and because he knows Falcon can’t do it alone.
Since Falcon and Bucky can’t be Captain America, the government gives the title and shield to Captain John Walker. The new Cap fights for Steve’s reputation without the same moral code and superpowers. Fortunately, he has Battlestar’s sidekick (Clee Bennett) to back him up.
As time passes, Walker’s dark side begins to show. He resents disrespect and feels inadequate compared to the super soldiers and highly trained warriors he fights. He is becoming increasingly ruthless in his battles against the flag-wavers.
Carly: The struggle is what binds us all together. People who have nothing to do with each other. After all, we are one world and one people.
The Whole World Is Watching (Season 1, Episode 4)
Falcon and the Winter Soldier could have taken the easy way out, and HYDRA was led by one of Captain America’s enemies. Instead, they turned one of his enemies into a new threat.
The world changed after Thanos snapped. With half of humanity gone, the survivors gather to pick up the debris. Nobody cares about borders or national differences. For once, people were getting along. But then half of humanity returned, and everyone rushed back to the status quo.
An organization called CORP has been established to help resettle and care for refugees. Instead, it has forced refugees into ghettos and made plans to deport migrants to their countries of origin. These actions lead a group of refugees to form the Flag Wreckers, an organization that steals the CPP to help refugees and wants to return the world to the state it was in during Snap.
The Flag Wreckers are led by Carly Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), a charismatic Robin Hood figure. She steals several vials of super-soldier serum from an arms dealer, allowing Carly and her allies to take on Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Carly and The Flag Smashers is a good name for a band, but it’s also a fun group of misfits. Their story shows how easily a well-intentioned group can fall into terrorism.
Sam: These are not easy choices, Senator.
Senator: You don’t understand.
Sam: I’m a black man wearing stars and stripes! What don’t I understand? Every time I talk about it, I know there are millions of people who will hate me for it. Even now, here, I feel it: the look, the judgment… and there’s nothing I can do to change it. I’m still here, though. No super serum, no blonde hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is that I believe… We are. I can do that. Better.
One World, One People (Season 1, Episode 6)
The Falcon and Winter Soldier series is one of the few MCU series to feature African-Americans. This allows the series to touch on topics that are, at best, sub-themes in other superhero series.
Even though Sam saves the world with the help of the Avengers, he has to deal with prejudice. He almost gets arrested for arguing with Bucky. The cops are hostile until they are reminded that he is the Avenger. The banker claims Sam has a bad credit rating to deny him a loan. He doubts he made his money as an Avenger and refuses to justify his years of hustling. Bucky’s therapist even forces Sam to attend a session, even though he has no papers.
The biggest slap in the face is that Walker will be the new Captain America. Steve gave Sam a sign, which he refused because he felt the personality should die with Steve. The general praised Sam for his refusal and then handed him over to the blond-haired, blue-eyed soldier without warning, before Walker made his debut.
Sam isn’t the only one suffering from racial injustice. Bucky introduces him to a retired black super soldier named Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lambly). Bradley was one of many African-American soldiers experimenting with a new super-soldier serum. He was the only survivor and was wrongly imprisoned because the government did not want the public to know about a black super soldier. Bradley is Sam’s mentor and cynical adversary.
Sam: What are you doing here?
Sharon: I stole Steve’s plate, remember? I also took the wings for your ass so you can save his ass.
Power Broker (Season 1, Episode 3)
There are many characters and plots in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Unfortunately, the series struggles with all of these elements.
Part of Falcon’s story involves helping his sister’s case, discussing race with Bradley, and fighting the Flag-Breakers. Bucky goes to therapy, tries to stop being a Winter Soldier, and argues with Sam. Add to that Carly’s fall into villainy and Walker’s attempts to be a good Captain America for fun.
There are already enough main characters, but more and more are being thrown into the show and piling up. Baron Zemo is called upon to help the heroes find the flag breakers. Agent Carter returns to the lawless land of Madripur as a liaison officer. Young Joaquin Torres joins the investigation and prepares to become the next Falcon. The series even brings in Black Panther’s Dora Milage for a brawl and a handful of dramatic scenes.
The worst example is in the penultimate episode. As Walker wonders what to do, Madame Hydra seems to give him advice. Obviously, he never met her and knows nothing about her, but he suddenly begins to take her words as gospel, even on the advice of his wife. He only appears once in the series. Apparently, the audience was already going to meet her in Black Widow, but a dozen delays ruined that plan.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier either had to cut some characters and stories or have an extra episode to solve all the problems. It provides enough fodder for season 2 and Captain America 4, but does itself no favors with this season.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are back in form. It has appealing protagonists, sympathetic and capable villains, and more social commentary than you can shake a Cap’s shield at. The step forward needs work, and the series is a bit bloated, but these flaws don’t sink it. Let’s see if they can continue this in Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
Photo by Julia Vrabelova and provided by Marvel Studios. (c) Marvel Studios 2020. All rights reserved.
Jared Bunakos wrote for 2016.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 over?
Has season one of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier been over? This question gets asked a lot, but it doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer. It depends on how you’re watching the series. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a Netflix series that is released in two parts, as part of one season. The first part was released in September 2018, while the second part was released in February 2019. Fresh off the combined success of “The Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War”, Marvel decided to expand its “Winter Soldier” franchise into a TV series called “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. In this series, which takes place in the same universe as the movies, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) teams up with Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes to fight crime and the elements. The first season of the show was 8 episodes long, and it concluded in May 2018 with a two-part finale.
What is the Falcon and the Winter Soldier about?
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the first MCU movie after the Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is set in the same universe as the Avengers movies, but it is a direct prequel to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel’s The Winter Soldier was the biggest superhero movie of 2014, and the follow-up to the blockbuster The Avengers. Surprisingly, it was a lot darker than any of the previous Marvel movies, especially the superhero ensemble piece. The Falcon was also a new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yet he was one of the best characters in the movie. (The Winter Soldier himself was also a new character, but he wasn’t in the movie as long as the Falcon.)
Does Bucky turn good in Winter Soldier?
Strangely enough, the film seems to be divided into two parts, one where Bucky is an evil person trying to kill people and the other where he is a good guy trying to save people. Honestly, the film doesn’t feel like it’s trying to do anything new, but it is fun. It is like if they had decided to reboot Captain America, but not change anything in the character. And so we come to the end of Cap’s saga, and possible the end of the road for our beloved superhero. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been praised for being a solid, character-driven action flick, and it’s certainly an improvement over the first Thor and even the first Iron Man. The action sequences are gripping and the dialogue is snappy and funny, and a few fight sequences are some of the best you’ll see in any action film.
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