Spoiler Review: Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1 isn’t afraid to Embrace Reality
Most MCU chapters lean directly into comedy while this show lets it’s characters breath and deal with drama.
Having just finished watching Episode 1 of the new MCU show Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I am utterly intrigued by how different this is from the rest of the MCU. Especially when compared to Wandavision, this show seems much more straightforward. Unlike that show which leaned heavy into the mystery and magic, this show focuses on the internal and external drama of the two titular characters.
Sam is dealing with family drama. His sister, after spending 5 years during the blip raising kids by herself, is ready to sell some of the inherited assets their parents left them. Sam wants to keep these sentimental pieces from their family legacy and hopes to be able to keep them while his sister denies the possibility.
Meanwhile Bucky is in therapy dealing with his past while trying to reintegrate into society. This includes making amends with people he hurt while under Hydra mind control.
The fact that both of their stories deal with real world problems really ground these characters in ways that most MCU characters aren’t. The fact that they’re dealing with these internal conflicts makes the world feel much fuller.
Bucky’s scene in therapy particularly struck me. This is because the direction and writing just nailed the tone of an uncomfortable therapy session. So few pieces of media really get that vibe, it’s uneasy and awkward, and it takes a lot to take down their walls. The denial and not wanting to talk about things only for the therapist to see instantly through the bullshit really spoke to me because I have been in that position as well.
With these two plotlines, the episode rarely ever veers into jokes. It’s mostly played completely serious and grounded, which really helps separate this from previous MCU entries. And yet, even though there are few moments of levity, the episode is still just as fun to watch as any other MCU project.
The action sequence in the beginning involving Batroc the Leaper is some of the most creative and well shot action sequences across all the MCU and it’s a blast. The chemistry between the supporting cast and Sam and Bucky are so well written that it never gets slow either. This episode was paced perfectly, and was really effective at delivering that information without it feeling forced.
This movie also uses the MCU to it’s advantage, having Rhodey and Batroc show up were both welcome additions that didn’t feel like straight fanservice. I also love that it opens with the Batroc action sequences since it mirrors Cap’s opening mission against Batroc in The Winter Soldier. I really hope Rhodey comes back too because I love Don Cheadle and it’s frustrating they almost never give him anything to do in the MCU movies. He has such good chemistry with Sam Wilson too.
I would say my biggest worry going forward with the show is how much this show will tackle serious social subject matter. I would love for the show to embrace the political nature of Captain America by tackling modern societal problems. This show already has started to address race issues in America in ways that big pieces of media like this typically don’t. I will be disappointed if the promise and alluding to these topics just end up being dropped in favor of more action scenes.
But if this episode is any indication, this show will relish in giving nuanced representation and discussion of these issues. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store next week.