'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Premiere Is All Talk, No Action

Created by Malcolm Spellman

Starring Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 18, 2021

Marvel's recent move into television makes a lot of practical sense. The serialized episodes means lots of new subscribers for Disney+, and Phase Four has been able to chug along nicely despite theatre closures. Not all stories translate smoothly to the small screen, however, and that possibly explains why The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gets off to such a slow start.

There's almost no action in the show's ponderous first episode. Aside from an admittedly exciting opening sequence in which Sam "Falcon" Wilson (Anthony Mackie) performs a high-altitude military rescue mission, this is all exposition. Falcon grapples with responsibility of having inherited Captain America's shield during Avengers: Endgame, ultimately deciding not to take Cap's prestigious title, and he reconnects with his sister and her fishing business. There's a long scene in which the siblings try to secure a bank loan.

Meanwhile, Bucky "Winter Solder" Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is on his own introspective journey. He's haunted by memories of atrocities he committed while brainwashed by Hydra, refuses to open up to his therapist, and goes on a slightly awkward first date. His only action comes in the form of flashbacks.

Director Kari Skogland and writer/creator Malcolm Spellman end the episode with a big reveal, which might be enough to hook MCU aficionados. But for the most part, the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier isn't likely to grab anyone who's not already invested.

Unlike WandaVision, which used the TV format to full effect, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels like the first act of a normal Marvel movie. On the big screen, it would likely be a satisfying setup for a quick payoff; as a TV episode, and with a week to wait until the next one, The Falcon doesn't quite achieve liftoff.

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