Before the world went into lockdown and Covid-19 changed life as we know it, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was set to be the first Marvel series to air on Disney Plus. It would’ve followed the Black Widow solo movie at the first entry into Phase 4, but it’s The Falcon and Winter Soldier that gives us the best look at what we can expect post-Infinity Saga.

As great as WandaVision was and as much as fans loved the look into the world after the snap, it was still a story that focused on Wanda and the Vision and how the snap affected them. Sam and Bucky’s story is already setting itself up to show us how the world is reeling from billions of people vanishing and then coming back five years later. It’s a true look at what we can except for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After the Blip

The series takes place five months after the Blip, which is what the world calls the moment when everyone reappeared. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is still working with the US Government and the first ten minutes of the episode are some of the best action sequences we’ve seen with the Falcon.

There are equal parts Captain America in his fighting, Iron Man-esque antics with his wings and Red Wing (his drone), but at the same, it’s all Sam Wilson. Those fans who were eager for the usual Marvel-flavored antics after watching WandaVision are given a feast of it at the beginning of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Bucky Barnes, for his part, has entered civilian life and the first we see of him is reliving nightmares from his time as the Winter Soldier. We learn that part of his pardon is to visit a therapist who is trying to help him work through his trauma. Though we learn he doesn’t take psychoanalysis very seriously, he is taking his attempts to atone seriously.

Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in "Falcon And The Winter Soldier"
James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, the Winter Soldier. Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The first taste of an antagonist that we get is from a group who call themselves the Flag-Smashers. They’re a terrorist organization that thought that the world after the snap was better because it broke down borders and caused everyone to work together. Apparently in a Post-Blip world society went back to its usual ways. There’s one quick scene with the Flag-Smashers leader stealing some money, but outside of that, we have no clear indication of what their long-term goals are.

It’s All About Family

The first episode following Sam’s rescue of a US Soldier at the beginning is a slow burn as we’re introduced to his family and the problems they’re facing Post-Blip. While there may be some fans who just want to see Sam and Bucky get to kicking bad-guy ass, the time we take to learn about Sam and his family is important.

It’s serving to do two things for the audience: the first is helping to build Sam’s character. In six movies we have learned little to nothing about Sam except that he’s in the military and he hosts support groups for soldiers. In the nearly 50 minute episode, we learn more about the same than six feature films combined and multiplied by ten.

Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Sarah Wilson (Adepero Odyue) in "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier"
Sam Wilson and his sister, Sarah. Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

We learn about his sister, Sarah, and her two sons. We learn about the parents they lost and the fact they grew up on an old fishing boat that was the family business. It’s clear that Sam and Sarah have a strong relationship, but it’s also not without its problems.

The second thing the audience learns through Sam and his family is how the rest of the world is still being affected by the Snap and the Blip. Sarah wants to sell the boat, but Sam wants to keep it and get it fixed up. It’s something Sarah and her parents tried but were denied loans at every juncture. Sam thinks he can solve it because he’s the Falcon.

What follows is a heartbreaking scene that many Americans probably know all too well. Sam and Sarah attempt to apply for a loan, but the banker is too busy wanting to get selfies with an Avenger than trying to help them out. At one point, the Banker notes that Sam hasn’t had any income for the past five years, knowing full well he was gone as part of the Blip.

Sam and Captain America

The final major thread of this episode that we’ll see throughout the series is Sam and his relation to Captain America, not the man, but the symbol. The episode starts with him remembering the last words he shared with Steve Rogers, “How does it feel?” Cap asked. “Like it’s someone else’s,” Sam responds, and Cap finishes. “It isn’t.”

Sam doesn’t seem to think he can measure up to what Captain America is supposed to represent and we see him turn over the Shield to the US Government to be put on display in a Captain America museum. But, by the end of the episode, we learn that the US Government has other plans. In a TV press conference, a new Captain America is announced and revealed, holding onto Steve’s shield.

That man is Jon Walker and in the comics, he became the villain Super Patriot, who worked to discredit Captain America. We won’t be able to tell exactly what direction Marvel Studios will take this character, to begin with, but one thing is clear.

He’s not Captain America. Steve Rogers chose Sam Wilson to carry on the legacy, and though The Falcon may not be able to see him wielding the shield just yet, we’ve got five more episodes for him to come around.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs Fridays on Disney Plus. It’s directed by Kari Skogland and stars Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Wyatt Russell, and more.

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Feature Image Courtesy of Marvel Studios