Review: Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 (2021)

Falcon and the Winter Soldier season 1 consists of 6 episodes and all are available to watch on Disney+ now.

Lost in a world without Captain America his two biggest allies come together to carry the shield.

PLOT AND STORY

This is a series about two very different characters who discover their lives have a lot more crossover than they thought. Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes have been the two real solid friendships Steve Rogers AKA Captain America had across his lifetime. We have witnessed throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe how these two have fought each other while ultimately fighting for Steve’s attention so it makes perfect sense for them to become friends eventually. 

The series plays out with two mirroring stories, first Bucky is trying to deal with adjusting to normal life having spent his life at war and the second is about Sam searching for his place in the world with no Captain America. Both struggle to accept the mantle left by Steve Rogers but the world still needs protection, the world still needs heroes. The series cleverly and humorously unravels these two journeys as the two hot headed heroes learn to accept each other and work together. 

Even though Steve Rogers is gone it’s still Captain America who becomes the driving force between the pairs collaboration. The US government needed to give the people a symbol to look up to and go about recruiting a new Captain America in the form of military hero John Walker. Sam and Bucky don’t take seeing someone else holding Steve’s shield well so find themselves working outside the boundaries of the law to stop a new terrorist organization called The Flag Smashers. This journey plays out like a classic Marvel movie with tonal similarities to Captain America: Winter Soldier and creates a really fun, action packed series. 

The catalyst for much of the series are the terrorist group The Flagsmashers. I feel they were under-sold a little because they are never given the opportunity to be any more than a distraction to Sam and Bucky pursuing other plots. Although I feel they made a good villainous group for the tone of the series and there is a lot more here that could be explored. Hopefully this isn’t the last we have seen of The Flagsmashers.

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION

With a reported production budget as high as $25 million per episode it’s not surprising for me to say this series delivers a movie quality finish. Each episode takes on a very structured format generally with a fast paced action packed opening sequence followed by some story and narrative before a climactic battle. 

Just like we have witnessed during the Captain America and Avengers movies, Falcon and Winter Soldier deliver well choreographed and executed fight scenes. The pair offer a great blend of variety and work well in tandem during fight scenes with Falcon displaying acrobatic and aerial attacks and Bucky bringing sheer strength and aggression to the fight.

One thing this series benefited from was a banging soundtrack and accompanying score. This was something Wandavision lacked so it was nice to see this had been addressed as nothing creates a better personality for a show than its music. A great example of this is episode 3 ‘Power Broker‘ which had a very similar vibe to the scene in Seoul in the Black Panther movie.

CAST

A great cast of returning actors with a few new additions to freshen up the roster. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will know what Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan bring to the table with this now being both their sixth appearance each in their respective roles as Falcon and Winter Soldier. Mackie brings a swagger and high level of confidence to the Falcon while Stan delivers a more stoic and brooding personality to his mentally troubled Winter Soldier.

The surprise hit this series was the return of Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo. He arrives with a confidence like never before and delivers his devilish charm winning the audience over as a villain with similarities to the way Loki did in the Thor and Avengers movies.

The new Captain America John Walker is played by Wyatt Russell. At first when he arrived I really liked his performance and him as a character but the longer the series progressed the less I liked him as Captain America due to some tonal shifts in his personality. 

Other cast members include the Flag Smashers played by Erin Kellyman, Desmond Chiam, Dani Deette, Noah Mills, Rennes Rivera and we also see the return of Emily Vancamp as Sharon Carter who has a brief yet important role.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

This felt like a Marvel show and every episode got better and better and I was gutted when it ended. Yes it follows a very familiar format to most Marvel movies but when it’s executed as well as this then who cares? The action is top draw choreography and the chemistry between Sam and Bucky is so natural they create wonderfully touching scenes one moment and side splitting laughter the next. The icing on the cake is the ending though which is as perfect an ending as you could get. Its powerful, political, relevant, emotional and ends this series while setting up endless possibilities for the future.

I watched this via Disney+ and received no incentive to review this series. All images are courtesy of Disney+ and their respective owners.

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