REVIEW: ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ packs a punch


The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now available on the Disney + streaming service.

Ben Kaiser, Reporter

Editor’s note: this article contains spoilers for the Disney + series “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”.

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is halfway through its series, and already is showing to be an action-packed series more closely to what we expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Starring MCU alumni Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan as Sam Wilson the Falcon and Bucky the Winter Soldier. The show also brings back Daniel Bruhl as Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Don Cheadle as Rhodey the War Machine. Wyatt Russell stars as John Walker, the government’s answer to Captain America, and Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau, leader of an anti-patriotism group called the Flag-Smashers who believe life was better when Thanos killed half of everyone. 

Episode one starts six months after “Avengers: Endgame” and shows the titular characters adjusting to living as ordinary people. Falcon donated Captain America’s shield to the Smithsonian Museum and is trying to help his sister run their family’s business, which is financially struggling. Bucky has made a list of those he has to make amends to as part of his pardon. The episode also shows Falcon doing missions for the Air Force now, giving a cool opening aerial fight with terrorist bad guys. The episode introduces the audience to a new enemy presence known as the Flag-Smashers. One member surprising Falcon’s Air Force partner to have super strength, similar to Captain America’s. The episode comes to a halt as it ends with the government now handing Cap’s shield to the new governmental Captain America, John Walker.  

The second episode starts with John Walker now being a huge celebrity as the new Cap. This sets off a massive wave with Marvel fans, who do not like this guy. I mean, he is supposed to be unlikable. But Walker doesn’t care, he’s the new Cap and he’s gonna show off that shield all he wants. Bucky confronts Falcon and is angry that he gave up the shield. He follows Falcon on a mission to track the Flag-Smashers. Once they try to stop them from raiding a medical supply, they discovered all eight members have super strength. John Walker joins the fight and tries to recruit both Falcon and Bucky to his team. They refused, thinking they can find the Flag-Smashers with their own tactics unlike Walker, who needs government sanctions and approvals. The duo decides that Bucky’s history with the organization Hydra is key to finding the Flag-Smashers, which the only connection they know that is still alive is Helmut Zemo, the man in prison responsible for tearing the Avengers apart. 

This episode is the moment that the show really picks up. The last episode was good, but when these two argue and banter with each other, it is gold. In “Civil War”, they had moments of banter but now they’re ripping on each other almost in every scene. It’s pretty great and funny, even getting close to the level of “Tango and Cash”. I love the argument over wizards and sorcerers. 

Episode three brings back a familiar face. “Civil War’s” Helmut Zemo returns and freed from prison to help Sam and Bucky find the Flag-Smashers. Not only does Zemo have the connections, we learn that he is also super rich. Zemo takes them to a place called Madripoor, a whole city that houses criminals from all over the world. In the city, Sharon Carter also returns, hiding as a fugitive for helping Captain America, Falcon and Bucky back in “Civil War”.  Apparently, all this time she had always been on the run and never exonerated or helped by Cap later on. Seems rude. They discover a scientist that managed to create new versions of the Super-Soldier serum– the same stuff that gave Cap his strength– for a criminal lord called the Power Broker. However, the Flag-Smashers, who were working for the Power Broker, stole the serums and ran. That’s how we have eight super-powered rebel fighters whooping Sam and Bucky’s tushes. Zemo unapologetically kills the scientist and starts a massive gunfight with bounty hunters, after all three of them. After escaping Madripoor, the three track down the leader of the Flag-Smashers to Germany, where Bucky discovers they’re being tracked by a familiar face from “Civil War”. I think it would be too much to say who exactly, but let’s just say that she’s not happy that Zemo is free. 

This episode also brought the internet a new meme: Zemo dancing. It shows a few seconds of it, but Daniel Bruhl had hinted that they shot more of his dance moves. #RestoretheZemoCut. Also, there’s more Falcon/Bucky banter, with a great argument between Falcon, Bucky, and Zemo over Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man”. Madripoor is a palce from the Marvel comics, often involving a certain stabby X-Men character. Not saying he shows up, but the references are enough to get fans excited for the arrival of mutants into the MCU. 

So far, the second Disney + show is doing pretty well. The action and special effects match up with the films and the episode is starting to build a deeper MCU world, digging into international criminal groups and cities. It’s not covered in a looming mystique like what “WandaVision” had. The focus is more on both Falcon and Bucky, and centering over what is the right thing to do with Cap’s shield. Bucky thinks Falcon should honor Steve’s wishes that Falcon keep it and be the new Captain America; Falcon doesn’t feel right about taking the mantle, even wondering if he should had destroyed it after the government gives it to John Walker. It feels that the show is a vehicle for both characters to show their worth of being the next Cap, through self-discovery and redemption. It’ll be an interesting climax to see where it all leads to. 

I’ve been enjoying the ride but a question that keeps bugging me is: What is with the Avengers? Are they even a team anymore? It seems like no one mentions it in the show and even Don Cheadle’s War Machine seems to be living quietly in DC now. I guess since Iron Man died, there’s nowhere for a base and the show dropped a huge bomb that none of the Avengers get paid. So I guess being an Avenger is just an honorary title. I think I’m rambling now. Yeah, I’m definitely rambling. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next three episodes and can’t wait to see who winds up with Cap’s shield at the end of all of this. Will it be Falcon, seeing the same worth Steve saw in him, or Bucky, redeeming himself after confronting his dark past as a Hydra assassin? Taking all bets!