‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ falls short of ‘WandaVision’’s creativity

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Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie star as Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson in Marvel’s newest TV show, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Despite the high bar set by Marvel’s premier Phase IV TV show, “WandaVision,” the new show lacks a sense of innovation and thoughtfulness.

By Eliza Barr ’21, Staples High School

Less than a month ago, Marvel was riding a creative high. “WandaVision,” the revolutionary show that kickstarted “Phase IV” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), was receiving such high praise that Marvel fanatics and new watchers alike were tuning in. Instead of blockbuster worthy action shots and big explosions, ‘WandaVision’ offered a new take on the old characters, one with more subliminal threats presented with extreme creativity throughout the show. 

With such success in the beginnings of Phase IV, most Marvel fans had high hopes for the second series of the phase, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” which aired its first episode on March 19 on Disney+. To the dismay of many fans, the show has so far not met the high expectations.

Airing in roughly 45-minute-long episodes each Friday, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” follows Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, two Avengers who go by the names “Falcon” and “Winter Soldier” respectively. The story picks up post- “blip”, a period of time in the MCU timeline where half of the population was turned to dust and then brought back to life years later. Wilson and Barnes are tasked with fighting off a rebel group trying to cope with their own pasts. 

In more ways than one, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” feels like a less strategic cousin to “WandaVision.” While it holds similar influence and themes, the shows have totally different approaches with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” feeling like it was built off of a preexisting formula. For example, the relationship between Wilson and Barnes trends along the same lines as dozens of “love/hate” relationships that have come before it. The result is scenes full of witty arguments meant to serve a comedic purpose but instead feel forced and pointlessly fabricated. 

Furthermore, the new show feels unoriginal compared to the films before it. Unsurprisingly, “Avengers: Endgame” was a tough act to follow as it amassed billions in theaters and had millions of fans on their toes throughout the three hour extravaganza. The Marvel movies and shows that have come since, including “Spiderman: Far From Home” and “WandaVision” were able to be successful based on their sheer creativity and exciting new angles. Unfortunately, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has yet to provide this same effect. 

After ‘Avengers: Endgame’ left viewers sure it was the end of an era for their favorite characters, almost everything a part of this next Phase seems like gravy.”

— Eliza Barr ’21

All of this being said, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is still a dream come true for Marvel’s superfans. After “Avengers: Endgame” left viewers sure it was the end of an era for their favorite characters, almost everything a part of this next Phase seems like gravy. In fact, much of this new show feels like fan fiction come to life, in the sense that it so far offers no major plot points but instead just lets us hold onto the characters for a little longer. 

For some, this can make viewing feel pointless. If the show is carrying no real importance and doesn’t meaningfully impact the rest of the MCU, then what’s the point? But as aforementioned, these are characters that many people hold dear to them, ones they’ve been watching since childhood and to not watch the series is an unfathomable option. 

Simply put, this next Phase is all about setting the stage for the MCU’s next generation of heroes and villains. Fans may not be ready to pass the torch onto a new group of superhumans but it nonetheless is the start of an inevitable shift. It feels as though “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will perfectly serve the purpose of picking up the storyline post “blip.”  

So while “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” may not carry the creativity and innovative aspects of “WandaVision,” it does serve its purpose and provides fans another reason to look forward to Friday.

This story was originally published on Inklings on April 5, 2021.