While some of us are still trying to process all that happened during the events of Wandavision, Marvel is releasing its second limited series to Disney+ this week. While the Wanda and Vision series was odd and confusing at times, Marvels says that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series will be a lot more straightforward and with just six episodes, it will probably feel more like watching a movies in chapters as each episode will be released each Friday.
The setup for the series is an intriguing one. The show takes place following the events of Avengers: Endgame after “The Blip” where half of world’s population has returned five years later. You’ll remember that Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) has returned to the present time after living a life well-lived in an alternate universe. Now being much older, he presents Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) with his patriotic shield. Steve asked Sam how it felt and Sam replies, “Like it belongs to someone else.”
“Sam considers the shield a representation of the country that we live in. There’s a lot of trepidation as far as how does a Black man represent a country that does not represent him?,” says Anthony Mackie who plays the role of Sam. “When you think of Captain America, you think of a very specific brand of person. And there are so many different lines, so many different avenues, so many realities that we have to live in every day to be a successful black man in our society.
“Sometimes it’s just too hard to deal with all of those courtships of success,” he adds “You can’t be the same person in every room you walk in because every person you meet expects a different person. For somebody like Sam, he has to ask himself the question if that’s something he’s willing to deal with.”
After the Blip, Sam went back home to join his sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) to save their family’s business. There is tension there because Sam ran away from the struggles of home to join the military, but he’s back now and a lot has changed since he left, yet it feels the same.
Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier) has his own issues. He was Steve Roger’s best friend and a WWII veteran who was brainwashed by Hydra to become a deadly and ruthless assassin. At the end of the Black Panther movie, it was revealed that Bucky’s mind was healed by the Wakandans and then joined the ranks of the Avengers to defeat Thanos. So, he’s basically a hero from the past – turned villain in the present and then turned back into a hero. That’s a lot to take in.
“He is trying to embrace his new life—but he’s pretty lost and having an identity crisis again,” says Sebastian Stan who is playing the role. “He’s doing his best, finding his own path after Steve, after all those events. It feels like this is the first time he’s finally free, so to speak, to look after himself. But it’s not easy. How does this character now function in the world? What’s his life going back to Brooklyn? How is he meeting people? How is he interacting at coffee shops? Is he dating? Is he thinking about another career? Is he in therapy? There were all these questions about where we could take this character. There were a lot of fun and exciting things that came out of that exploration.”
For The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the two, who barely know each other, will have to work together to fight new evils in the world.
“They know each other and they share a common denominator, Steve Rogers, but they aren’t particularly good friends,” says director Kari Skogland. “But the connection between them is really compelling.”
Malcolm Spellman, who is the head writer for the seris says, “Take away the mutual best friend and the truth of their relationship is laid bare. They are like fire and ice. Sam reacts spontaneously from the gut, and Bucky is more cold and calculated. Everyone saw the 30-second clip in Civil War when they bicker about the placement of Sam’s seat. We build on that chemistry.”
“They’re both, whether they want to or not, in the shadow of what Captain America means,” says Stan. “And I think in Bucky’s mind, Sam is the next guy—that’s who was chosen, that was Steve’s wish. Bucky wants to see that through—and if there’s any doubt in Sam’s mind about it then that’s immediately a conflict for Bucky. He still feels very protective of Steve and his legacy.”
But while the two characters struggle with this new friendship, the two actors get along just fine and according to executive producer Nate Moore, that was a real help for the series.
“The great thing about Anthony and Sebastian is they like each other in real life. I think that real-life friendship and chemistry spills onto the screen. We love the notion of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes spending time together and seeing these two people that seem to be oil and water bond and become friends in their own right outside of their relationships with Steve Rogers.”
The series also brings back Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp). Sharon is a Former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who went on the run after breaking the Sokovia Accords and knows that if she stepped foot in the United States, she be arrested. But after living life underground for so long, she has become jaded.
The cast also includes John Walker (Wyatt Russell) who is described as a “patriotic, strong, good-intentioned, and every bit of him will be put to the test as he tries to team up with Sam and Bucky to protect the world from a new threat.”
As for the villain in the story? ZEMO (Daniel Brühl), the bitter former Sokovian special forces officer has been rotting in a German prison since Captain America: Civil War.
“I kind of fell in love with Zemo,” says Skogland. “He’s a man who’s struggling with this desire for revenge. But his story is a slippery slope of trying to make something right, but going about it all wrong. So, when we meet him, he’s paying for his crimes. He’s lost everything. He’s in a very sad place. I couldn’t help but feel a certain amount of sympathy for him.”
“He’s not just a sinister bad guy. But there was not that much time to explore different facets of him, so it was great to be given the opportunity to revisit this character,” says Brühl.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Friday, March 19 on Disney+.
Main image: Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie (Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)
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