Streaming Friday’s on Disney+ is “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” Marvel Studio’s second foray into a serialized expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With just a few weeks between the finale of “WandaVision,” and the premiere of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” the show has high expectations following the massive success “WandaVision.” These characters also have a lot more baggage: Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson were introduced earlier in the franchise with much more backstory than Wanda, and are two of the living characters in the MCU over which fans feel the most ownership.
The premiere of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” finds Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) balancing his hero obligations as the Falcon with stabilizing his family after disappearing for five years, and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in therapy and making amends for his crimes committed as the Winter Soldier. The first episode introduces a handful of new characters in the ensemble: Sam’s sister Sarah (Adepero Oduye) and Air Force liaison Lieutenant Torres (Danny Ramirez), and Bucky’s therapist (Amy Aquino). Though it starts with a classic Marvel fight and flight scene, a lot of the first episode is exposition with the ghost of Steve Rogers’s Captain America looming, until a surprising reveal in the show’s final moments.
As much as “WandaVision” was a high concept departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” is precisely what is expected … in a good way! Given the time travel shenanigans of “Avengers: Endgame” and the promised complexity of “Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness,” it’s a welcome return to a superhero story with just three dimensions. The Falcon and Winter Soldier have advanced technology, super abilities and elite training, but still get punched in the face sometimes. Whats made the MCU films such successful films in the genre is that they find a balance of action, stakes and humor. “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” promises to deliver on that formula and give a much anticipated weekly dose of frenemies: Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson.