The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuted it’s first episode on Friday. The show is the second show to be released by Marvel Studios, after the end of WandaVision two weeks ago. And, following it’s release, the adequate but slightly mediocre action blockbuster seems permanently stuck in the shadow of it’s extremely superior successor’s shadow.
Both projects were announced in September 2018, with the intent of giving some of the MCU film side characters a moment of shine. With both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the MCU have given Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) all a huge project in a blockbuster format.
After it’s premiere in mid-January, WandaVision established itself as something completely different – not just different from the usual Marvel fare, but also different from pretty much any other television show out there. From it’s first episode, the show had a really ingenious premise, in which we see Wanda and Vision acting out sitcom episodes, which change decade from episode to episode.
The following episodes slowly peeled away at the facade shown in the first episode, and every week we were filled with questions – why are Wanda and Vision playing out sitcom tropes, why don’t they seem to remember their lives, and ultimately, what the hell is going on? WandaVision, maybe up until it’s last episode, seemed to be a show that had the upmost confidence with it’s audience. It didn’t even start to explain what was going on until the fourth episode, and the makers had trust that we would just sit tight, and carry on watching.
WandaVision was revolutionary in that it had to be formatted as a television show – there would be no way to tell it’s format in a film format and that was one of the many reasons why the show become so enormously popular. From the outset, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier looks like a TV show that is is essentially a 6 hour long film. It looks like, with some good editing and cutting a lot scenes, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could of almost been a 2-hour long action blockbuster movie. When you think about it, it’s quite a cynical act on behalf on the MCU – they don’t want to risk giving these minor characters a big movie project, so they just delegate them to a TV show.
But more than that, it seems as if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier lacks a fundamental drive and purpose. From Wandavision’s first episode, we knew what the rest of the series would be about. We would be going through different sitcom-like episodes, figuring out answers about what is really going on along the way. It also be about Wanda’s relationship with Vision, and finding out how grief has largely effected Wanda over the years. Yes, WandaVision was funny, original, creative, serious and sad, but moreover, it was a show with drive, purpose and intent from it’s very first second.
Think about it – what is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier really about. And, before you say anything – yes, it’s about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. But ultimately, what is the story, what is the drive in the story, where are the stakes and what are the other five episodes really going to be about.
The series itself is completely fine – the action sequences are pretty good and the humour is kind of funny, but ultimately, is the only point of this show to develop Sam and Bucky’s characters. Moreover, is the point to just give them air-time – a reminder to the audience that they exist and will become important later.
Like I said, the show is fine and may improve, but at the moment, the show seems like it’s going to have some of the problems that some of the worst MCU films have. Ones like Ant-Man and the Wasp or Iron Man 3, in that they are just there to keep the MCU franchise going, and don’t stand up as individual pieces of work in their own right.
I’ll definitely keep watch watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but ultimately it feels like a show that is stuck in WandaVision’s huge shadow.