There’s a momentous scene at the end of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, when Steve Rogers hands Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, his shield. A very much older Rogers beckons him to try it on, and asked, “How does it feel?” Wilson simply remarks: “Like it’s someone else’s”.
You can say that the latest Disney+ series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, explores what happens after that scene, the fallout after a post-Thanos world where Steve Roger’s Captain America, our captain, has retired. Interestingly, the TV series opens with Wilson’s understandable trepidation at having to take up the mantle and honour the legacy of Captain America.
Starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, the six-episode show sees both actors reprising their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, respectively. It launches 19 March (Friday) on streaming service Disney+. This also marks the first time that Singapore fans can watch the world premiere on the same day as everyone else.
Most excitingly, we get six hours of exploration here. Amidst gun fights, chase scenes, and amazing aerial action sequences, we also delve deeper into the characters of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. Who are they beyond their superhero alias? What are some of the issues they might be struggling with, especially without Rogers in their lives? President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, tells it straight: “You 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 that he had been in the service and worked with PTSD, we didn’t know much about. So, it was really an opportunity to go deep,” he said at a global press conference. Indeed, we hear that the series explores issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly for Barnes, and gives much necessary background and context to these beloved, and perhaps underrated, screen characters.
“Our goal, and we’ve talked about this, was not to mess it up. We didn’t want to be the first crappy Marvel project,” joked Anthony Mackie. “Our job was to take the torch and not make a bad show. And, I’m very happy to say that Steve Rogers will be proud that our show does not suck.”
Ahead of its release, we hear from the show’s main leads Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, as well as president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, head writer Malcolm Spellman, and director Kari Skogland. Here are five reasons why you should watch the show — or why the series, according to Mackie, “does not suck”.
1. The first episode has amazing action scenes — don’t just take it from us, Kevin Feige said so too.
Kevin Feige: “It was meant to prove that we could — to ourselves, to the audience, and to Mackie and Stan there — that just because it’s on TV doesn’t mean it’s not gonna be as big as it possibly could be as a movie. We were working just as hard on it and putting all of our blood, sweat, and tears into it. Which is why, in this first episode, it really starts off with a bang. We kept saying, “If we’re gonna do a series with Falcon and Winter Soldier in it, we need to at least start off with the best action that we’ve ever seen.”
there’s even more hand-to-hand combat.
Anthony Mackie: “The same stunt guys we worked with on the films, are the same guys who choreographed and did all of our stunts on the show. Kari had a great idea that we all kind of fell in line with too — taking the idea of weaponry away, so it’s more hand-to-hand combat. It’s more physical. It’s more assertive. It’s more of us utilising our strengths. Wyatt, Sebastian, and myself did a lot of stunt training to be able to go in, and some of the stuff you see is us, but we also had amazing stuntmen to go in and kick ass for us.”
2. The creative team drew inspiration from famous buddy-cop movies such as 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, and even Rush Hour. Here’s why that dynamic makes sense.
Kari Skogland: “I approached it like a film from the beginning; we were making a six-hour film. We just kind of, you know, figured out where to snip it at certain hour marks. Malcolm and I did a lot of looking at movies that were in our paradigm, because we we have a buddy-cop kind of relationship going on, so we looked at some of those.
Malcolm Spellman: “The buddy-cop, or the buddy-two-hander genre — what we loved about them is the range tonally. 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. What we liked about it was it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, while also allowing the broader creative of, say, if you need to take on a real issue or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y, it’s a very, very durable form of storytelling.”
on how The actors are actually playing off their in-real-life dynamic.
AM: “I think the great thing about it, or what I enjoy so much, is you can’t find two people further opposite from each other than Sebastian and I. But there’s a mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation of that person. We listen, learn, and, teach each other a great deal. We’re friends, which isn’t a term that either of us use lightly. So, I think because of that, as Mr. T would say, “there’s no jibber-jabber.” We allow ourselves to be our best selves and we correct ourselves when we’re not our best selves.”
how the ‘falcon and the winter soldier’ dynamic from the movies has evolved within the series.
Sebastian Stan: “They’re in some similar places at the start of the show, because of Steve. And it’s sort of thrown them both into almost opposite corners, in terms of facing their lives, their demons, their questions. They’ve got different things that they’re facing but they’re definitely in a similar place in terms of questions they’re asking, I believe.”
3. We’ll get to know the characters of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes a lot more. Playing out over six episodes, the series goes deep on issues such as PTSD, grief, and even family ties.
KS: “The movies are like a snack, and this is like the meal. You really can get involved with the characters in six hours that you’re 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. The stakes are so high. 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.”
On The Winter Soldier.
SS: “I felt like we had established the character a certain way, and there were certain things about him that 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 homing in on his sense of humour. That really came into the series and, particularly, with his dynamic with Sam Wilson, along with my own dynamic with Anthony. We’re really finally kind of zooming in on his quest for identity, accepting his past, and sort of re-educating himself about the world that he’s currently in, the ideals and principles he might’ve lived by and been driven by at one point that perhaps no longer really serve him the same way. Also, as everybody knows, PTSD is not something that you’re just done with. It’s something that one has to continue to grow with, and to become better at dealing with. It’s a major part of our show, and it grounds both of these characters in very realistic ways.”
On The Falcon.
AM: “The idea of Sam Wilson, and the character and the evolution of The Falcon, to be able to go back and dive into his backstory, his family, his surroundings, only betters the character for the audience. We’re in a place now where we want the audience to know these new characters, especially since Kevin finally killed Iron Man [laughs]. We have to introduce these new characters to the audience, and give them that relationship and history that they’ve built over 10 years — and we now have six episodes to play catch-up. You know, post blip. So, it’s always great to learn more and give more about your character, and not feel like heavy exposition. It should feel like a good cinematic experience.”
4. For all the fantastical and supernatural elements that accompany the superhero films, the series is grounded in “their flaws” and the emotional moments.
KF: “That’s something we’ve always tried to do. What’s great about the Marvel characters is their flaws. As crazy and extraordinary and science fiction and fantasy and supernatural as the MCU can get, it’s about grounding them in the character experiences and the emotions of the character — that’s always by far the most important anchor for any story we’re gonna tell. There has been a lot of trauma for these characters over the years, and you can easily forget that because there are sparkly portals opening and people cheering and Iron Man punching a flying lizard. But really, if you think about it, which we do, we think about what we were those characters, what if we lived this, There would be horrific elements to that that would have repercussions years down the line, and that is very fun to explore.”
on striking a balance between what fans what, and what they might need.
KF: “It’s about taking advantage of the different storytelling medium that we have with Disney+, and what excites us in the room. What could happen at the end of an episode that would keep us interested? We’re all fans within Marvel Studios. So it’s really the same balance that we’ve been trying to strike for the last ten plus years. I’ve never thought of it in terms of what people want versus what they need. It’s just, how do you provide the best, most engaged level of storytelling to the audience? And sometimes that is subverting what they expect. But other than that, we’re usually quite in sync with what people are expecting, and either delivering on that, or surprising and subverting that.”
5. It answers some intriguing questions posed to us at the end of Avengers: Endgame — do we get a black Captain America, why does Sam Wilson feel that he hasn’t quite earned the shield yet?
AM: “Sam’s whole thing is, he went on this Avenger journey because of his respect and admiration for Steve. He says, when Captain America shows up at your door, you answer it. That being said, it’s the pain, the idea of not being able to go on these missions, not being able to help his friend. There’s still people out there that really appreciate camaraderie and friendship, and Sam is one of those people. He enjoys his friend. He doesn’t, just like everybody else, wanna see Steve Rogers go away. Just like Captain America was your captain, Captain America was Sam Wilson’s captain. That’s why he says at the end of Endgame, when he’s holding his shield, “it feels like it someone else’s, it feels like it’s yours”. Sam Wilson, in all intents and purposes, is a regular guy that just won the lottery because you know, Black Widow knocked on his door, and needed a place to hide.”
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier launches on 19 March (Friday) on Disney+.
images, courtesy of marvel studios.