The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 1 Review


Courtesy of The Honey POP

Disney+ recently launched the first season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier!

Faith DeSio, Photojournalist

Warning: The Following Article Contains Spoilers to the show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 

April 23rd, 2021 marked the sixth and final episode of the newest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The television show marks the second installment of Marvel media exclusively on Disney+. Following the worldwide success of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hit a few bumps along the road of themes, dropped plots, and mixed perceptions. 

The first episode of the series gives the audience insight into how the two main characters’ Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes’ lives have changed and adapted since the events of Avengers: Endgame. The episode dives straight into the action with a thrilling fight scene in the air. Sam Wilson, played by Anthony Mackie, is on the chase for a government hostage, and with help from Joaquin Torres, played by Danny Ramirez, Sam learns about the Flag Smashers. The group is composed primarily of displaced refugees in a post-Blip world. We also see Sam’s reluctance in taking the responsibility of being the next Captain America. He gives the vibranium shield to a museum, passing on taking over the mantle of Captain America. Next up in the episode, we get to see James Barnes (Bucky), played by Sebastian Stan, dealing with the consequences of being the Winter Soldier. He faces guilt, PTSD, anxiety, and stress after recovering from his brainwashed Winter Soldier state. The audience gets to connect more with each character separately in this episode and see their day-to-day lives since the passing of their shared friend, Steve Rogers. This leads us to the ending sequence of the first episode, where we are introduced to a new Captain America—not Sam Wilson but John Walker! Fans around the world were instantly outraged by this because of the abrupt ending with a giant cliffhanger and questions that would not be solved for another week. 

In the next couple of episodes, we learn that Sam and Bucky will need some more help in order to deal with the dreadful Flag Smashers. The duo breaks out with Baron Zemo, played by Daniel Brühl. This is not Zemo’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We first got to see him in Captain America: Civil War where he was the antagonist with a plan to tear the Avengers apart from the inside. The newly formed trio sets off to get information about the stolen super-soldier serum, Flag Smashers, and the mysterious Power Broker. Here we learn that the Flag Smashers have a valuable supply of super-soldier serum that could be potentially dangerous to themselves and others. Sharon Carter, played by Emily VanCamp, joins the team to locate the scientist making the serum in order to find and save it. Then, the Dora Milaje, angry that Bucky helped free Zemo even though he previously killed King T’Chaka, show up and tell him he has eight hours to handle Zemo and return him back to where he belongs. The team continues on their wild goose chase around the country to find the Flag Smashers but are finally intercepted by the Dora Milaje because the eight hours have passed. This leads to an epic, and one of the most memorable, fight scenes in the entirety of the show, with Bucky, Sam, John Walker, Lemar Hoskins, Zemo, and the Dora Milaje. The final sequence in episode four is where John Walker’s best friend and sidekick, Lemar Hoskins, is killed by the leader of the Flag Smashers, Karli Morgenthau. This sends Walker, having newly injected himself with a found super-soldier serum, on an insane rampage. Eventually, he takes out his rage on another member of the Flag Smashers, Nico, killing him brutally with the original Captain America shield in the public eye. The whole world was watching. 

Somewhere in the first three to four episodes, there was a subplot about one of the oldest and most honorable Flag Smashers members, Donya Madni, passing away due to a virus. The whole plot of the virus affecting the elderly lady and the whole country was dropped in production due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This story pivot left multiple potentially valuable characters with no speaking lines in the whole show and gutted a huge part of the initial storyline. Due to these cuts, many viewers were left with thoughts of “why is this happening or significant” or “we are already halfway through the series but now we are getting introduced to a new idea.” Although the show did carry through with most of the prominent parts, there were times of confusion and missed pay-offs. Viewers were left unsatisfied and unconnected to some of the newly introduced characters. 

The final two episodes of the series focus on Sam Wilson stepping up and becoming the new Captain America. Bucky Barnes continues his recovery, including helping a disillusioned Isaiah Bradley getting his justice and respect after his time as the second Captain America was wiped from history. The Power Broker continues to scheme, and the Flag Smashers plan their final assault. Sam eventually realizes that he will need to step up to the plate and take on the role of Captain America. From talks with Isaiah Bradley, Sam knows more about what happened to black Super Soldiers and how horrible they have it and are still being mistreated. This further encourages him to take on the role and represent what he thinks is right. As this is happening, Bucky finally gets his closure and is on the way to a great recovery from his tragic past. But the Power Broker and Flag Smashers are still causing uprisings and trouble in Madripoor. John Walker decides to finally use his strengths for good and help out Bucky and Sam when they need them the most. During this epic fight, we learn that Sharon Carter is actually the Power Broker and has been causing destruction for months. We also see Sharon shoot and kill the leader of the Flag Smashers, Karli Morgenthau, finally ending their movement. 

In conclusion, even though The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may have had some bumps, the show demonstrates how Marvel Studios can work with a variety of topics and events. One Marvel fan, Sam Miexleigh (9), says “I liked the show, but I feel like they could have done more with it and expanded it. I loved how they gave Sharon a bigger part but I did not love the new Captain America, John Walker. I loved the bad girl that they had in the movie though.” While elements such as what it means to be a black person living in America are timely, the unanticipated timeliness of a pandemic-based storyline led to confusing and disorienting adjustments. Overall, the newly monikered Captain America and the Winter Soldier gives us deeper insight into two fan-favorite characters. It will be interesting to see how Marvel carries forward the people and themes introduced in the series.