Falcon and the Winter Soldier

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Review: A Promising Premise Let Down by Mixed Messages

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier started out with a bang. The premiere episode demonstrated that not only could the series provide trademark MCU action, it could also present us with a thoughtful look at the post-Endgame world, and explore Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes’ (Sebastian Stan) attempts to lead normal lives alongside their hero antics. However, for all of its interesting themes and characters, the series failed to convey a consistent message and ended up with a disappointing finale.

Sam and Bucky are pitted against the Flag Smashers, a “terrorist’” group lead by Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). Armed with super-soldier serum, the group fights for social justice on behalf of all those who have been displaced by the Blip. Even five years after Endgame, the world struggles with the number of refugees created by the return of the people who disappeared, and those who were displaced live in squalid refugee camps.

Karli’s cause is entirely sympathetic – she only wishes to make those in power realise their wrongdoings in mistreating the victims of the Blip. Her goal may be honourable, but her methods are not, and this is one of the series’ big mistakes. Instead of committing to Karli’s moral ambiguity and showing that good people sometimes do bad things, the show attempts to paint her as a clear-cut villain. Just when we begin to realise that she has a point, Karli commits out-of-character acts of violence and, towards the end, teams up with a minor-but-familiar MCU bad guy. All of this comes off as an attempt to make her more clearly villainous and removes a lot of the nuance that her character could have had.

The titular duo is also forced to deal with the appointment of a new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell). With this plotline comes the question “’what does it mean to be a hero?” Walker is basically the Anti-Steve, embodying America as it is, where Steve Rogers represented the ideals of what America could be at its best. Walker thinks that his decorated military career qualifies him for the job, but cracks under the pressure of trying to be as good and heroic as Steve. He is by far one of the most intriguing characters in both this series and the wider MCU, so it is a shame that his character arc is not given the time and attention it deserves. He is especially sidelined during the finale, used primarily to set up future stories.

Unfortunately, this could be said of a lot of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are so many pieces to the puzzle; beyond the Flag Smashers and Walker, there is Zemo (Daniel Brühl) being hunted by the Wakandans, the notorious “Power Broker” that Karli owes a debt to, and Sam trying to fix his family’s boat. It is simply too much for a six-episode event series, and as such few of these plotlines are pursued to a satisfactory conclusion. The show presents a lot of interesting ideas and characters but doesn’t have enough time to develop them. The Power Broker especially brings nothing to the table except to point to future appearances. The series comes to such a disappointing end because of how little is actually concluded.

If you ignore the messiness of the writing, the series has some very enjoyable moments. Brühl’s performance as Zemo is a real highlight, bringing heaps of personality despite once being one of Marvel’s most bland villains. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have a great rapport, and the parts of the show exploring their day-to-day lives are heartwarming. Of course, there are also some excellent action sequences, including an extremely satisfying fight between Walker and the Wakandan Dora Milaje warriors.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier holds up as light entertainment, but any serious message it was trying to send is muddled by the writing. It tackles an ambitious amount of characters, plotlines, and themes for a limited series, but doesn’t give sufficient time to any of them.

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to support our website, you can follow us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *