Following the extremely successful run of “WandVision,” Marvel Studio’s first television effort on Disney+, the studio will release “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” with the first episode streaming Friday, March 19. This season will have a shorter run (just six episodes), and packs in a lot more of the action, plot points and characters expected of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The stars and creators of the show met for a digital press conference last weekend to discuss the approach to bringing the duo to the small screen, finding the balance of action and comedy, and giving more depth to characters to that have been in the MCU for as much as a decade. On the call was Marvel Studio’s head and show producer Kevin Feige, head writer Malcolm Spellman, director Kari Skogland, and stars Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier).
A theme of the conversation was the care of taking the dynamic between Sam and Bucky, and translating it from a few moments in “Captain America: Civil War” to six hours of television.
Kevin Feige: We’ve seen a lotta cool action with both of [Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson] before. And more importantly, as I think you also see in that first episode and will see much more of over the course of the series, learn who the heck they are. We know a little bit about the poor Bucky Barnes and what he’d been through. Sam Wilson, other than that he likes the job and is an inherently moral man and had been in the service and worked with PTSD, we didn’t know much about them. So, it was really an opportunity to go deep.
Malcolm Spellman: There was about a 12-second moment in “Civil War” where it feels like every single Marvel fan, Kevin Feige, and all his cable partners knew that these two guys were gonna be able to support a movie or a franchise…. You can go from as gritty as “48 Hrs.” to as comedic as “Rush Hour,” but in between there is sorta, like, that first “Lethal Weapon” and that first “Bad Boys.” And what we liked about it was it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, but also allows the broader creative to take on real issue or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y, it’s a very durable form of storytelling.
The stars of the show discussed the evolution of their characters in comics and on screen over the last seven years in the case of Sam Wilson, and decade in the case Bucky Barnes.
Anthony Mackie: You know, the idea of Sam Wilson, he’s always evolved in the world of the Marvel comic books, and now he’s evolved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… Cause if you remember, when Sam Wilson first started out, he was a hustler from Harlem. And then, as, uh, African American culture evolved, Stan Lee evolved him in the comic book into different incarnations of himself. So, I’m excited for everyone to see the “new and improved” Sam Wilson.
Sebastian Stan: I’ve spent ten years with this character, you know? You grow and you evolve with the character. And look, I think everyone here definitely is gonna attest to this. Like, I was pretty freaked out because, again, I felt like we had established a character a certain way, you know, and there were certain things about him that I knew, and I was very comfortable and familiar with tonally in the movies, right? And then, we had to kind of go into this and go, “All right. Well, what is he like now?” Part of that was really kind of us homing in on his sense of humor, so to speak. That really came into the the tone of the series and, particularly, with his dynamic with Sam Wilson along with my own dynamic with Anthony and kind of just marrying the two.
Finally, the creators discussed the process of making a Marvel story that expands to fill a whole season of streaming television.
Kari Skogland: I’ve been calling the movies like the snack, and this is like the meal. And you really can get involved with the characters in a way in the-in six hours, that you just not able to in a film. Particularly because the films are often very high octane already, and they’re immersed in some world-saving event. It’s very hard to go off on a little tangent with a character, because the stakes are so high in one singular direction. But on a series, you’re able to meander a little bit, and we’re able to get inside the lives of our characters. We’re able to do twists and turns that are a little less streamlined in the end. I love this space of being able to get inside the characters, get inside their lives, and also, world build.
Malcolm Spellman: I think what worked out really nicely was that where “End Game” leaves off, Thanos has created this situation where the entire world is dealing with one single issue, which is very familiar to what’s going on today, and everything is born from that. The villains in this series are responding to that. And in fact, every villain in the series would tell you he or she is a hero. The heroes are responding to that in their personal lives…. And that A-story plot, it’s all born from one single, organic thing. And this continuum from what happens after “End Game” sort of galvanizes and affects everybody on the planet at the same time and creates a nice cohesion, and direct lineage to the MCU.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” begins streaming weekly on Friday, March 19 on Disney+.