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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

American streaming television miniseries

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Also known asCaptain America and the Winter Soldier
Genre
Created byMalcolm Spellman
Based on
Directed byKari Skogland
Starring
Music byHenry Jackman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
  • Kevin Feige
  • Louis D'Esposito
  • Victoria Alonso
  • Nate Moore
  • Kari Skogland
  • Malcolm Spellman
Producers
  • Ariella Blejer
  • Dawn Kamoche
Production locations
CinematographyP.J. Dillon
Editors
Running time49–60 minutes
Production companyMarvel Studios
DistributorDisney Platform Distribution
Budget$150 million[1]
Release
Original networkDisney+
Original releaseMarch 19 (2021-03-19) –
April 23, 2021 (2021-04-23)
Chronology
Related showsMarvel Cinematic Universe television series
External links
Website
Production website

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier[a] is an American television miniseries created by Malcolm Spellman for the streaming service Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics characters Sam Wilson / Falcon and Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The events of the series take place after the film Avengers: Endgame (2019). The series was produced by Marvel Studios, with Spellman serving as head writer and Kari Skogland directing.

Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprise their respective roles as Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson from the film series. Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman, Danny Ramirez, Georges St-Pierre, Adepero Oduye, Don Cheadle, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp, Florence Kasumba, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus also star. By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing a number of limited series for Disney+, centered on supporting characters from the MCU films such as Wilson and Barnes. Spellman was hired in October, and chose to focus on the racial issues raised by Wilson being handed Captain America's shield at the end of Endgame. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was confirmed in April 2019, and Skogland was hired the next month. Filming began in October 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to the Czech Republic in March 2020. Production was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but resumed in Atlanta in September before wrapping in the Czech Republic in October.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered on March 19, 2021, and ran for six episodes until April 23. It is part of Phase Four of the MCU. A fourth Captain America film is in development as a continuation of the series.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Intro articles: 21

Premise

Six months after being handed the mantle of Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[3] Sam Wilson teams up with Bucky Barnes in a worldwide adventure that tests their abilities and their patience.[4][5]

Overview of "Captain America" article

Cast and characters

  • Sebastian Stan as James "Bucky" Barnes / Winter Soldier / White Wolf:
    An enhanced soldier and Steve Rogers' best friend during the 1940s who was presumed killed in action during World War II, before re-emerging as a brainwashed assassin in the present day.[6][7]:4 Head writer Malcolm Spellman noted that Barnes has done "nothing but fight" in the last 100 years, and the series could not avoid the trauma that he has gone through.[8] Stan explained that Barnes would be struggling with his murderous past while also adjusting to life in the 21st century without Rogers,[9] and was having an identity crisis.[7]:4 Co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout explained that Barnes would be working to "unburden himself" from his life as the Winter Soldier but the darker side of the character would still be seen during the series.[7]:5
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon / Captain America:
    An Avenger and a former pararescueman who was trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially-designed wing pack.[6][7]:4 Wilson was handed Captain America's shield by Rogers at the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[4] and the series expands on this moment to explore the implications of a Black man being given that mantle.[10] Wilson initially continues to use the Falcon moniker in the series,[11] and Mackie said the story would portray the shield as being a burden for the character.[8] He added that Wilson is questioning how "a Black man [can] represent a country that does not represent him".[7]:2 Wilson eventually takes up the shield to become the new Captain America.[2]
  • Wyatt Russell as John Walker / Captain America / U.S. Agent:
    A decorated member of the U.S. Army and the new Captain America chosen by the U.S. government. He attempts to join Wilson and Barnes in their fight,[12][7]:5[13] and believes he is a better embodiment of American values than Rogers was.[8] After being stripped of the Captain America title, Walker is given the moniker U.S. Agent by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.[2] Spellman described Walker as a soldier who has "done everything his country has ever asked" and is now faced with a reality where his life and sense of duty to the United States "challenge [him] in a way that upsets and obliterates [his] privilege".[14] Russell added that Walker was a "company man" who might venture into "the grey areas" to complete the mission.[15] He was attracted to the character's "dichotomies", and he had room to shape the character since this is his introduction to the MCU.[7]:5 Spellman said Walker was inspired by the comic book character, who uses the moniker U.S. Agent, but the series had shifted away from the comic book portrayal to add some different dimensions to this version.[16] Feige added that a White man, Russell, was specifically cast as the new Captain America as commentary on how the U.S. government would not want a Black man like Wilson to take on that role.[17]
  • Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau:
    The leader of the anti-patriotism group the Flag Smashers, who are enhanced with a recreation of the Super Soldier Serum and believe the world was better during the Blip, fighting for open national borders.[14] Spellman called Morgenthau "the glue for the series". Flag-Smasher in the comics is an identity assumed by male characters, notably Karl Morgenthau. Kellyman felt it was "important" the character was gender-swapped for the series, giving young women a character they could "look up to and relate to now". She added since Karli is not a middle-aged man like Karl, Karli's outlook on life and actions she takes come from a different perspective.[18]
  • Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres:
    A first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force who serves as Wilson's support staff and is investigating the Flag Smashers. Director Kari Skogland called Torres "a bit of a puppy dog" who is a fan of the Falcon and enjoys getting to work alongside him.[14]
  • Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc: A mercenary who is the leader of the criminal group LAF.[14][19]
  • Adepero Oduye as Sarah Wilson:
    Sam's sister who runs the Wilson family fishing business in Louisiana.[20][21] Sarah represents Sam's life growing up in the South and was included in the series to have strong opinions and present a crucial aspect for Sam regarding his choice to take up the mantle of Captain America.[22]
  • Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes:
    An officer in the U.S. Air Force and Avenger who operates the War Machine armor.[23] Skogland explained that Rhodes plays a mentor role for Wilson in the series, giving him reasons for and against taking up the mantle of Captain America while also providing a view of the wider world following the Blip.[24]
  • Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo:
    A Sokovian baron who was responsible for breaking up the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War (2016).[25][26] The series introduces Zemo's traditional purple mask from the comics,[26] which Brühl was enthusiastic about wearing;[27] he felt like a "baron" wearing the updated costume, which points towards the "aristocratic" Baron Zemo version of the character from the comics.[16] Brühl was thrilled to return to the role and enjoyed the increased sense of humor for the character,[28] adding the series felt both known and fresh to him compared to Civil War.[27] Skogland was excited to explore Zemo's complexity following the dark place that Civil War left him in,[29] with the series showing that he has lost everything and is paying for his crimes.[7]:6 Spellman said the series would explore Zemo's origin story and show how the character views himself as a hero.[30]
  • Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter / Power Broker:
    A former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the CIA, and Peggy Carter's niece.[12][2] Sharon Carter has been on the run since she was last seen in Civil War, and the series shows what she has been doing in that time.[31] VanCamp explained that Carter is in a "pretty dark place" at the start of the series, and she was interested to explore new sides of her such as her anger,[7]:5 adding Carter had "a bit more edge" and a "chip on her shoulder". Though the series does not explain much of what Carter went through since she was last seen, VanCamp said seeing where she has ended up was meant to give "a sense that it hasn't always been easy, and that the sacrifices she's made weren't always worth it in her mind".[32]
  • Florence Kasumba as Ayo: A member of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's all-female special forces.[33]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine:
    A contessa who meets with Walker and gives him the moniker U.S. Agent.[34][2] Executive producer Nate Moore described Fontaine as a funnier but darker version of Nick Fury who has secrets and operates in the "moral gray area".[35]

Recurring members of the Flag Smashers include Desmond Chiam as Dovich, Dani Deetté as Gigi, Indya Bussey as DeeDee,[36] Renes Rivera as Lennox,[37] Tyler Dean Flores as Diego,[38] and Noah Mills as Nico.[36] Also recurring are Amy Aquino as Christina Raynor, Barnes' therapist;[39] Chase River McGee and Aaron Haynes as Sam Wilson's nephews AJ and Cass; Alphie Hyorth as a U.S. senator and representative of the Global Repatriation Council (GRC);[40] Clé Bennett as Lemar Hoskins / Battlestar, a sergeant major in the U.S. Army and Walker's Captain America strike force partner;[41][15][13] Carl Lumbly as Isaiah Bradley, an African-American Korean War veteran and super soldier who was imprisoned and experimented on for 30 years; Elijah Richardson as Isaiah's grandson Eli Bradley;[42] and Gabrielle Byndloss as Olivia Walker, John's wife.[41]

Additional guest stars include Ken Takemoto as Yori Nakajima, the father of one of the Winter Soldier's victims;[40] Miki Ishikawa as Leah, a waitress who has a date with Barnes;[21] Neal Kodinsky as Rudy, a supporter of the Flag Smashers;[38] Veronica Falcón as Donya Madani, Morgenthau's adoptive mother;[43] Nicholas Pryor as Oeznik, Zemo's butler; Janeshia Adams-Ginyard and Zola Williams as Nomble and Yama, respectively, members of the Dora Milaje;[44] and Salem Murphy and Jane Rumbaua as Lacont and Ayla, representatives of the GRC.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Cast and characters articles: 14

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"New World Order"Kari SkoglandMalcolm SpellmanMarch 19, 2021 (2021-03-19)
Six months after half of all life returned from the Blip,[b] Sam Wilson stops Georges Batroc and the terrorist group LAF, who have hijacked a plane and taken a hostage over Tunisia, with support from U.S. Air Force first lieutenant Joaquin Torres. Wilson, who was given the mantle of Captain America by Steve Rogers, struggles with this idea and decides to give Rogers' shield to the U.S. government for a museum display. Bucky Barnes, who was recently pardoned, attends government-mandated therapy, where he discusses his attempts to make amends for his time as a brainwashed assassin, the Winter Soldier. Torres investigates another terrorist group, the Flag Smashers, who believe life was better during the Blip. Torres is injured by a member of the group with superhuman strength when he witnesses them rob a bank in Switzerland. He later informs Wilson of this, who has been attempting to help his reluctant sister Sarah with the family fishing business in Delacroix, Louisiana. The government soon announces a new Captain America, John Walker.
2"The Star-Spangled Man"Kari SkoglandMichael KasteleinMarch 26, 2021 (2021-03-26)
Walker appears on Good Morning America and reveals his desire to live up to Rogers' mantle. Barnes tells Wilson that he should have kept the shield before accompanying him to Munich, where the Flag Smashers and their leader Karli Morgenthau are stealing a shipment of medicine. Wilson and Barnes attack the group, but the terrorists are all super soldiers and overpower the pair. Walker and Lemar Hoskins arrive to help, but the Flag Smashers escape. Walker wants to work with Barnes and Wilson, but they refuse. Traveling to Baltimore, Barnes introduces Wilson to Isaiah Bradley, a veteran super soldier who fought the Winter Soldier in the Korean War. However, Bradley refuses to help them uncover information about additional super soldiers due to being imprisoned and experimented on by the U.S. government and Hydra for 30 years. Barnes is arrested for missing a therapy appointment, but Walker has him released. Barnes and Wilson again refuse to work with Walker, and Barnes suggests to Wilson that they visit the imprisoned Helmut Zemo.
3"Power Broker"Kari SkoglandDerek KolstadApril 2, 2021 (2021-04-02)
Zemo offers to help stop the Flag Smashers, so Barnes orchestrates a prison riot to help him escape prison. They travel to Madripoor, a criminal sanctuary city-island run by the mysterious Power Broker. High-ranking criminal Selby reveals that the Power Broker hired former Hydra scientist Dr. Wilfred Nagel to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. Selby is killed when Wilson's identity is exposed, and every bounty hunter in Madripoor targets Wilson, Barnes, and Zemo. Sharon Carter, who has been living as a fugitive on the island,[c] saves the trio and directs them to Nagel's lab. They learn that he created twenty doses of the serum, which Morgenthau stole. The bounty hunters attack them, and Zemo kills Nagel in the chaos before finding a getaway vehicle. Carter stays behind and Wilson promises to get her pardoned. The Flag Smashers raid and bomb a Global Repatriation Council (GRC) storage facility in Lithuania while Zemo, Barnes, and Wilson search for them in Latvia. Barnes is confronted by Ayo, a member of Wakanda's Dora Milaje.
4"The Whole World Is Watching"Kari SkoglandDerek KolstadApril 9, 2021 (2021-04-09)
Ayo gives Barnes eight hours to use Zemo before the Wakandans take him, as Zemo killed their king T'Chaka.[d] Zemo helps find Morgenthau at a funeral for her adoptive mother, where Walker and Hoskins intercept them. Wilson speaks with Morgenthau alone and attempts to persuade her to end the violence, but an impatient Walker intervenes, and a fight ensues. Zemo destroys most of the serum before he is apprehended by Walker, who secretly takes the last vial. Ayo and the Dora Milaje come for Zemo, but Walker refuses to hand him over. In the ensuing fight, the Dora Milaje humiliate Walker while Zemo escapes. Morgenthau threatens Sarah, forcing Wilson to meet with her to attempt to persuade him to join her. Walker and Hoskins engage other members of the Flag Smashers, leading to another fight in which Morgenthau accidentally kills Hoskins. Enraged by his friend's death and having taken the serum, Walker uses the shield to kill one of the Flag Smashers in front of horrified bystanders, who film his actions.
5"Truth"Kari SkoglandDalan MussonApril 16, 2021 (2021-04-16)
Wilson and Barnes demand the shield from Walker, leading to a fight in which Walker destroys Wilson's wingsuit. Wilson and Barnes take the shield, breaking Walker's arm. Barnes finds Zemo in Sokovia and hands him over to the Dora Milaje, while Walker receives an other than honorable discharge and is stripped of his title as Captain America. Afterward, Walker is approached by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Wilson leaves the damaged wingsuit with Torres and visits Bradley, who states his belief that a Black man cannot, and should not, be Captain America. Wilson returns home and helps fix the family boat, with assistance from several locals and Barnes, who delivers a briefcase from the Wakandans to Wilson. Barnes and Wilson train with the shield and agree to move on from their pasts and work together. The Flag Smashers plan an attack on a GRC conference in New York City and are joined by Batroc, who Carter has secretly hired. In a mid-credits scene, Walker builds a new shield from scrap metal and his war medals.
6"One World, One People"Kari SkoglandMalcolm Spellman & Josef SawyerApril 23, 2021 (2021-04-23)
Wearing a new Captain America uniform and flight suit from the Wakandans, Wilson flies to New York to stop the Flag Smashers' attack with the help of Barnes, Carter, and Walker. Carter accidentally reveals that she is the Power Broker to Batroc and kills him while Wilson attempts to reason with Morgenthau before Carter kills her as well. Wilson convinces the GRC to postpone the forced relocation of displaced people that Morgenthau died fighting for and instead make efforts to help them. The remaining serum-enhanced Flag Smashers are caught by Barnes and Walker and sent to the Raft, but they are killed by Zemo's butler en route. De Fontaine gives Walker a new uniform and codename, U.S. Agent. Barnes makes amends with everyone he hurt or enabled as the Winter Soldier while Wilson has a memorial dedicated to Bradley added to the Captain America museum exhibit. In a mid-credits scene, after receiving a full pardon, Carter rejoins the CIA and intends to use this access to sell government secrets and resources.

Production

Development

By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing several limited series for its parent company Disney's streaming service, Disney+, to be centered on supporting characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films who had not starred in their own films. The actors who portrayed the characters in the films were expected to reprise their roles for the limited series. The series were expected to be six to eight episodes each and have a "hefty [budget] rivaling those of a major studio production". The series would be produced by Marvel Studios rather than Marvel Television, which produced previous television series in the MCU. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was believed to be taking a "hands-on role" in each series' development,[45] focusing on "continuity of story" with the films and "handling" the actors who would be reprising their roles from the films.[46]

Malcolm Spellman was one of several writers asked to pitch a series focusing on Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson / Falcon and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier.[47] Feige believed the MCU films had not explored enough of these characters, with Marvel especially wanting to explore the pair more after seeing the audience reaction to their "fun dynamic" in the MCU films Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016).[7]:1 Mackie and Stan both previously expressed interest in starring in an MCU spin-off film together, with Stan comparing the idea to buddy comedy films like Midnight Run (1988) and 48 Hrs. (1982).[48] It was Marvel Studios' intention for the series to use the "buddy two-hander" format like those films.[8] Each writer developed their pitch with a Marvel Studios executive; Spellman worked with Nate Moore, and his pitch focused on race and identity.[47] He gave 48 Hrs., The Defiant Ones (1958), Lethal Weapon (1987), and Rush Hour (1998) as examples of buddy films that dealt with issues of race, which Spellman wanted to model the series after.[8] Spellman had a migraine when he pitched his take to Feige, and he felt that the presentation did not go well. Moore advocated for Spellman and his approach, which the writer felt was because Moore agreed that focusing on race was the right direction for the series.[47] Spellman was hired to write the limited series by the end of October 2018.[46][49] Feige felt Spellman was the right person for the job because he understood what was needed to make the series fun and action-packed, while also being a Black male television writer which gave him the point of view that was needed to tell the type of story about Wilson that Marvel Studios wanted to tell.[16]

The series was officially announced in April 2019 with the title The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,[6] and Kari Skogland was hired to direct all six episodes a month later.[4] The series is retitled onscreen as Captain America and the Winter Soldier at the end of the sixth episode.[2] Each episode is around 45–55 minutes in length,[8] with budgets reported to be as much as $25 million per episode.[1] Executive producers of the series are Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Moore, Skogland, and Spellman.[7]:15

Writing

The series is set six months after the film Avengers: Endgame (2019),[3] which depicts Steve Rogers bequeathing his shield and the mantle of Captain America to Wilson.[4][50] Feige said this was intended to be a "classic passing of the torch from one hero to another", but when Marvel Studios got the opportunity to make television series for Disney+ they decided to expand this into an entire story about Wilson, who is a Black man, becoming Captain America. Mackie was hesitant about the series because he felt it would not be able to match the quality of the MCU films, and he did not want a Black actor to be the lead of Marvel's first failure, but he was won over by Spellman's writing. Mackie said the series would explore Wilson's backstory and treat him as a "regular guy" in a world of superheroes,[10] while "walk[ing] the line of who is going to take up the [Captain America] shield" after Endgame.[51] He felt that there was a specific "brand of person" that was expected of Captain America, and part of Wilson questioning the mantle came from knowing as a Black man that "you can't be the same person in every room you walk in because every person you meet expects a different person".[7]:2 Spellman felt the series was "a nice progression" from the themes of racial identity that were presented in Marvel Studios' Black Panther (2018), and was hopeful that the series would have a positive impact on Black youth like that film did.[47] He noted that in addition to himself and Moore, over half of the series' writing staff was also Black which reinforced the series' portrayal of Wilson as a "decidedly Black character".[52] Mackie said he was picking up the mantle left by Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died in August 2020.[10] Stan explained that Barnes feels protective of Rogers' legacy, and wants Wilson to become Captain America since he was Rogers' choice. The doubt that Wilson has about taking on the role becomes a conflict for Barnes.[7]:2 Regarding Wilson's progression in the series from being reluctant to wield the shield to ultimately using it, Skogland indicated that he needed "to engage in both a public and private conversation of what it means for a Black man to pick up such an iconic historically white symbol" which would help him define what it means to be a hero in modern society versus when Rogers became Captain America in the 1940s. Skogland also believed this was an important progression for the viewers to have along with Wilson since "the shield means different things to different people" and all aspects of it as a symbol needed to be explored.[53]

If you want any honesty to them, you cannot avoid all the trauma that Bucky's been through, and you cannot avoid the fact that Sam is Black.

—Showrunner Malcolm Spellman on the central issues facing Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson in the series[8]

Derek Kolstad joined the series' writing team in July 2019,[54] and said he would be bringing "a wink and a nod" to the style of world building and character development from his film franchise John Wick.[55] Feige said the series would be more of a reflection of the real world than previous MCU projects,[56] with composer Henry Jackman saying the series deals with "less comfortable... weighty issues" such as what kind of person should hold the shield and how a Black man would feel about being Captain America.[57] Skogland added that other topical, "hard-to-talk about issues" that the series explores include ideas of patriotism and extremism, asking the questions: "Who is an American, and who gets to decide what principles the country stands for? What compels people to take extreme actions in the name of what they believe is patriotism?" Skogland noted that Captain America has always been used to explore political ideas, since the character's first comic book in 1941 where he was depicted punching Adolf Hitler. Stan said viewers would be able to compare events in the series to the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, though this was unintentional since the series was written before that event.[8]

The Blip—where half of all life in the universe disappeared in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and returned during Endgame—is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's "primary source of conflict" with the characters all responding to it,[52] with Spellman noting they wanted this crisis to be something viewers could identify with, adding the heroes, their problems, and their worldviews were "of the times".[24] Spellman made a parallel connection between the Blip and the COVID-19 pandemic,[58] since the series' setting was described as "a world striving for stability after a global catastrophe".[8] He felt that a global event like the Blip or a pandemic could unite or divide, and each episode of the series is defined by this "push-pull".[3] One of the series' antagonists, the Flag Smashers, are an anarchist, anti-patriotism group who believe the world was better during the Blip and were "born" out of that event.[19][24] The Flag Smashers and Helmut Zemo all believe they are heroes and are responding to the Blip with views that make the protagonists and wider population concede are valid points.[14] Skogland believed setting the series six months after the Blip was critical, as that is when the complications of everyone returning begin to surpass the initial shock and joy.[3] Co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout and Moore said the series would show Wilson and Barnes attempting to figure out their identities, and the Blip would affect this.[7]:2 Spellman added that identity is one of the main themes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with the story forcing Wilson, Barnes, Sharon Carter, and Zemo to each "rethink how they see themselves and confront how the world sees them".[59]

Jackman described the series as a psychological drama,[57] while Mackie and Stan said it was "part action-packed superhero epic, part awkward buddy-comedy".[9] Stan compared the series' tone to the more realistic and grounded MCU film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.[60] He added that having a longer running time than a film allowed the series to explore the personal lives of the title characters and show what a day in each of their lives is like,[8] and said it would combine the characters' existing relationship with the actors' offscreen dynamic.[61] Spellman wanted to "go home" with the characters and let the actors show their skills rather than simply focus on action,[62] and he said the spirit and conflict of the title characters were what remained consistent as the project developed from his initial pitch to the final series.[8] He compared them to fire and ice, saying, "Sam reacts spontaneously from the gut, and Bucky is more cold and calculated".[7]:1 Spellman said there was a "12 second moment in Civil War where it feels like every single Marvel fan knew that [Wilson and Barnes were going to] be able to support a movie or a franchise",[61] referring to a scene in which the two characters bicker over the placement of Wilson's seat. The series builds on the chemistry from that scene rather than developing its tone from scratch.[61][7]:1 The writers also referenced the various press interviews done by Mackie and Stan to help craft the character's relationship and dynamic together.[63] Skogland and Spellman noted that Wilson and Barnes are not necessarily friends in the films, but they have Rogers as a "common denominator". Without Rogers, the pair's underlying relationship is now "laid bare" and forced to develop.[7]:1 Stan said that without Rogers, Barnes and Wilson went into "opposite corners in terms of facing their lives [and] their demons", but they were each asking the same questions.[61]

Spellman created the series using his general knowledge of Marvel Comics and the MCU, along with that of Moore and Nagelhout, rather than basing it on specific comic books, though he did name Truth: Red, White & Black as a large influence on the series.[52] Moore disliked that comic when he read it, but liked the ideas it posed and felt Spellman, who strongly advocated for using elements of the comic, had integrated those story elements into the series in a smart way.[64] Feige was nervous about adapting Truth because he felt they would not be able to do justice to it and its main character, Isaiah Bradley, if they were only a small part of the series, but he changed his mind when he saw how central Isaiah was to the series' themes.[17] Skogland said the writers created unique characters for the series and would go back to the comics to find appropriate names that fit those archetypes, even if they were not direct translations from how they were used in the comics; the Flag Smashers were an example of this.[14] Kolstad felt it was interesting to take secondary characters from the films and put them in primary roles for the series, and added that other characters from earlier MCU films are layered into the series and shift the storytelling in new ways.[65] With the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney allowing Marvel Studios to regain the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties, Marvel Studios was able to include elements from those properties in the series. This includes the location Madripoor, which Feige said was "more of an Easter egg in and of itself".[66] Ahead of the series premiere, Spellman said there were three projects from Marvel Studios he knew of that would tie-in to the series.[16]

Casting

Stan and Mackie at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con promoting the series

With the official announcement of the series in April 2019 came confirmation that Mackie and Stan would reprise their roles of Wilson and Barnes, respectively, in the series.[6] The next month, Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp entered negotiations to reprise their respective film roles of Helmut Zemo and Sharon Carter.[4] Brühl was confirmed for the series in July 2019,[25] and VanCamp was confirmed a month later when Wyatt Russell was announced as cast in the role of John Walker.[12] Russell's past work portraying "the slacker with long hair and a beard" did not lend itself to this role, but Marvel liked how his "unique energy" differentiated Walker from Wilson and Barnes.[7]:5

Set photos in November 2019 revealed Adepero Oduye would appear in the series,[67] portraying Sam's sister Sarah Wilson,[20] Additional set photos in September 2020 revealed Georges St-Pierre would be reprising his role as Georges Batroc from Captain America: The Winter Soldier,[68] and that Erin Kellyman had joined the cast,[69] portraying Karli Morgenthau.[14] The following month, Danny Ramirez was cast in the "pivotal role" of Joaquin Torres.[70][14] Kellyman's involvement was confirmed in December.[71][72] In February 2021, Don Cheadle revealed that he appears in the series in his MCU role of James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine.[23] Florence Kasumba also reprises her role as Ayo from past MCU films.[33] Julia Louis-Dreyfus was cast as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Vanity Fair reported Louis-Dreyfus had been expected to first appear in Black Widow (2021) before delays pushed the film's release to be after the series; it was unclear if she would still appear in the film.[34]

In December 2019, Desmond Chiam and Miki Ishikawa joined the cast,[73] and Noah Mills was cast a month later.[74] In February 2020, Carl Lumbly joined the cast as Isaiah Bradley.[75][42] A year later, the series' trailer revealed Amy Aquino had been cast in the series as Dr. Christina Raynor, Barnes' therapist.[76][39] Janeshia Adams-Ginyard and Zola Williams reprise their roles as Nomble and Yama, respectively, members of the Dora Milaje, from previous MCU films.[44]

Design

External video
Henry Jackman - Louisiana Hero (From "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier") presents the end credit sequence with composer Henry Jackman's theme "Louisiana Hero", YouTube video from MarvelMusicVevo's channel

The series' end credit sequence was noted for featuring "teases, references, and exciting nods to [the] comics". These included the Enhanced Humans Act and Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross; the Sokovia Accords; a wanted poster for Karli Morgenthau and various attacks performed by the Flag Smashers;[77] Madripoor and the Brass Monkey Saloon;[77][66] past attempts to replicate the Captain America program, including Isaiah Bradley being labeled a "subject"; and Power Broker.[77]

Filming

Filming began on October 31, 2019,[78] at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia,[79][80] with Skogland directing,[4] and P.J. Dillon serving as cinematographer.[7]:15 The series was filmed under the working title Tag Team.[81] Mackie and Stan announced the official start of filming on November 4.[82] Mackie compared the production to an MCU film, saying it felt like shooting a six-hour film that would then be cut up into individual episodes rather than filming one episode at a time.[83] Feige said the series would have the "cinematic experience" of an MCU film across six episodes,[84] while Skogland felt the series was "relatable" to the films since it featured "action, comedy, [a] high-octane pace, familiar faces, and new characters".[7]:1 Skogland was inspired by the films of David Lean and Midnight Cowboy (1969) for the series,[61] as well as the French film The Intouchables (2011). The Intouchables helped her "feel secure in exploring some of the vulnerabilities" of Wilson and Barnes, which translated to different approaches to filming each character.[85] For example, Skogland's approach to Wilson was having the camera further back to capture his surroundings,[85] while the approach for Barnes was to try "be in his head" by using close-up shots and a shallow focus that excluded the background.[86][85]

Location shooting took place in the Atlanta metropolitan area from November 2019 through February 2020.[87][88][89][90] VanCamp filmed her part for the series simultaneously with her role on the Fox Broadcasting Company series The Resident, since that also shoots in Atlanta.[32] In mid-January, filming was expected to take place in Arecibo, Puerto Rico for two weeks, but production on the island was suspended due to a series of earthquakes there.[91] On March 3, the production was revealed to be moving to Prague, Czech Republic, for three weeks until March 25,[92] with filming in the city starting on March 6 and expected to continue until the week of March 16. However, filming was halted on March 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and members of the production returned to Atlanta.[93] Stan said filming would be completed once it was safe to do so,[94] estimating that there were at least two or three more weeks of filming needed.[60] In early May, the Czech Republic allowed television and film productions to start up if they followed new hygiene guidelines for cast and crew members,[95][96] and in June the head of the Czech film commission said cast and crew involved in film and television productions would be exempt from the European Union travel ban on U.S. citizens that was set to take effect on July 1.[97][98]

Production on the series was scheduled to resume at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in August.[99] Skogland said that the series' crew knew exactly what they needed to film once shooting was able to begin again.[61][100] Filming occurred at Atlantic Station in Atlanta in early September,[101] and VanCamp finished filming her scenes for the series by the end of that month.[102] Filming in Prague resumed by October 10,[103] with locations including Olšany Cemetery and the Monastery of Saint Gabriel in Smíchov.[104] Mackie said the cast and crew followed strict quarantine and social distancing measures while filming in Prague.[105] The production wrapped on October 23.[104][106]

Post-production

Skogland said the series' crew used their time wisely when the production shut down due to the pandemic, allowing them to continue with post-production work on the series and make decisions that they usually would not have time to make.[61][100] Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Dixon, Todd Desrosiers, and Rosanne Tan edited different episodes of the series.[7]:3 Visual effects were provided by Cantina Creative, Crafty Apes, Digital Frontier, Industrial Light & Magic, QPPE, Rodeo FX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Stereo D, Technicolor VFX, Tippett Studio, Trixter, and Weta Digital.[107]

Music

Henry Jackman, who scored Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, began scoring the series by December 2020.[108] Because he was returning to the franchise after several years, Jackman started by creating an "audio care package" featuring different themes, orchestrations, and harmonies that he had composed for the Captain America films, to remind himself of that work and organize it before approaching music for the series. Jackman explained that the series format allowed him to write a wider range of music than the films since it still required music for big action sequences while having time for more quiet, character-based moments. He described the music for the latter sequences as being more patient, with "lighter and thinner" instrumentation. The many locations visited in the series also allowed Jackman to explore some environment-specific music, such as elements of the Blues genre when exploring Wilson's backstory in Louisiana, or electronic music for Madripoor which Jackman described as "a grungy rave scenario".[109]

Jackman reprises several of his themes from the films in the series: the composer expanded his Falcon motif from Winter Soldier into a full superhero theme inspired by classical music, which he combined with some of the Blues elements to acknowledge Wilson's history (the new Falcon theme is used as the series' end credits theme, titled "Louisiana Hero");[109][110] Jackman's Winter Soldier theme, which consists of a "scream" and "clangs" that he described as "the last fragments of a human soul trapped inside some mechanistic frame", is heard during callbacks to the character's time as an assassin;[109][111] Zemo's "spidery, kind of fractious" theme from Civil War returns for that character;[109] and Jackman used an off-key version of his Captain America theme to represent John Walker.[109] The composer had written a nostalgic motif for Barnes' civilian identity in The Winter Soldier that was tied to the character's 1940s history, but he decided not to use that in the series as he felt it did not suit the modern version of the character. Instead, he took an element from the end of his Winter Soldier theme that is played on strings in a "disturbing" octatonic scale and "straightened [it] out" into a diatonic scale to create a new civilian melody for the character that is played on strings, piano, and guitar.[109][111] For the Flag Smashers, Jackman composed a new theme with a developing melody and a "dystopian vibe".[109]

Jackman's score for the series is being released digitally by Marvel Music and Hollywood Records in two volumes: music from the first three episodes was released on April 9, 2021,[110][112] and music from the last three episodes will be released on April 30. "Louisiana Hero" was released digitally as a single on March 26.[110]

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Vol. 1 (Episodes 1–3) [Original Soundtrack][112]
No.TitleMusicLength
1."Louisiana Hero" 2:14
2."Tough Act to Follow" 1:16
3."Airborne Operation" 5:56
4."Smithsonian Tribute" 0:53
5."Nightmares" 1:22
6."What Do You Want?" 1:22
7."Pluck Up the Nerve" 1:53
8."New Agitators" 1:13
9."The Wrong Guy" 1:38
10."America's Sweetheart" 1:05
11."No Parachute" 1:29
12."Stakeout" 1:39
13."Outmatched" 2:46
14."Safe House" 2:41
15."Someone You Should Meet" 1:09
16."Overlooked For Promotion" 1:20
17."Warranted Attention" 1:03
18."Fraying Edges" 2:04
19."Take One For the Team" 2:21
20."Unnecessary Use of Force" 1:48
21."Prison Break" 4:41
22."A Marriage of Convenience" 0:32
23."A Pure Heart" 1:48
24."Town" 1:24
25."Attack, Soldier!" 1:47
26."Breaking Character" 2:29
27."Bad Science" 3:30
28."Masked Man" 1:20
29."Dissent and Disillusionment" 1:08
30."Radicalized" 1:19
31."Star Spangled Man" (featuring The Captain America Drum Corps)Alan Menken1:44
Total length:58:54

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episodes articles: 78

Marketing

A short teaser for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was shown at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, featuring Brühl as Zemo. The character wears his traditional purple mask from the comics in the teaser.[26] Skogland traveled to Budapest, where Brühl was filming The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, to capture the footage.[27] Concept art for the series featuring designs for the characters' costumes are included in Expanding the Universe, a Marvel Studios special that debuted on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.[62]

In December 2019, Feige debuted the first images from the series at Comic Con Experience, which Matt Goldberg of Collider described as more grounded than fellow Disney+ series WandaVision, with a "standard spy thriller" look similar to the Captain America films.[50] A commercial for the series, WandaVision, and Loki was shown during Super Bowl LIV.[113] Julia Alexander of The Verge said there was not much footage, but it offered "enough glimpses to tease fans".[114] Haleigh Foutch at Collider felt of all the Super Bowl commercials, Marvel's teasers "stole the whole show" and had "a lot to get excited about".[115] A trailer for the series was released during Disney Investor Day in December 2020. Writers for Polygon said the trailer "certainly delivered" and made the series look like it was similar in scope to an MCU film. They highlighted the series' villains which the trailer showcased, Zemo and the Flag-Smashers.[72] Angie Han of Mashable felt the trailer promised "explosive action, a jet-setting plot, some very creepy villains, and—best of all—a return of the characters' odd-couple, best-frenemies dynamic" from Civil War.[116] CinemaBlend's Laura Hurley said the trailer's action was so epic that it could be the trailer for an MCU film rather than a series.[117] Writing for io9, Charles Pulliam-Moore called the trailer "nothing short of bonkers".[118]

A television spot was shown during Super Bowl LV which announced the release of the second trailer for the series.[119] Ben Pearson of /Film said the trailer was a return to the "quippy, action-heavy, Marvel house style" after the release of the less conventional WandaVision. Pearson wondered how this perspective would have been different if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was released before WandaVision as was originally planned.[120] Ethan Alter at Yahoo! also compared the trailer to WandaVision, saying the series appeared to "bring the fireworks audiences traditionally expect from MCU adventures".[121] Rolling Stone's Brenna Ehrlich called the trailer "replete with explosions, stomach-flipping stunts, and all manner of intrigue".[122] Speaking to Sharon Carter's appearance in the trailer, Ian Cardona of Comic Book Resources felt that even though it was a few seconds, the character was "finally getting the respect she deserves" following her brief appearances in the MCU films.[123] Across various social media platforms, the trailer and television spot had more than 125 million combined views within 24 hours. The trailer became the most-watched for a streaming series, surpassing the 53 million views of the September 2020 WandaVision trailer. It also had 217,000 social media mentions and the highest Google Search volume among all entertainment offerings. Anthony D'Alessandro at Deadline Hollywood noted it was rare for analytics company EDO's top 10 most searched Super Bowl spots list, which measures searches within five minutes of a spot airing, to include a trailer rather than brand ads, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's spot was ranked fifth on the list.[124] According to YouTube, the trailer was the sixth most-watched Super Bowl LV ad on the site.[125]

Four episodes of the Disney+ television series Marvel Studios: Legends explore the Falcon, the Winter Soldier, Zemo, and Sharon Carter using footage from their MCU film appearances.[126][127] The episodes focusing on Falcon and Winter Soldier were released on March 5, 2021,[128] with the Zemo and Sharon Carter episodes released on March 12.[127][128] Also in March, Xbox released commercials cross-promoting the series with the Xbox Series X and Series S and Xbox Game Pass. The commercials feature Mackie alongside DC Pierson as Aaron, a game store salesman, reprising his role from Captain America: The Winter Soldier where he was an Apple Store employee. Aaron is revealed to be Noobmaster69, the Fortnite player who Thor threatens in Avengers: Endgame.[129][130] A final trailer for the series was released on March 15. Austen Goslin at Polygon thought it was a good display of the series' story, action, and banter,[131] while Syfy Wire's Matthew Jackson felt it clarified that the series would be a "personal fight". He said this and the previous trailers showed that the series could "open up the future for this particular corner" of the MCU.[132] Discussing the trailer for io9, James Whitbrook highlighted the emphasis on the physical and existential threats to Wilson and Barnes, and said he was intrigued by the portrayal of Flag-Smasher as a movement rather than a single character.[133] In January 2021, Marvel announced their "Marvel Must Haves" program, which reveals new toys, games, books, apparel, home decor, and other merchandise related to each episode of the series on the Monday following an episode's release.[134] On March 15, general apparel, Funko Pops, collectibles, accessories, and houseware for the series was revealed for the program,[135] with the "Must Haves" merchandise for the episodes starting on March 22.[136]

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Marketing articles: 26

Release

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuted on March 19, 2021, on Disney+.[137] It consists of six episodes,[4] releasing weekly until April 23.[138] The series was originally scheduled for release in August 2020,[139] but it was pushed back after filming was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[140] The series is part of Phase Four of the MCU.[137][141]

Reception

Audience viewership

Disney+ announced that "New World Order" was the most-watched series premiere ever for the streaming service in its opening weekend (March 19 to 22, 2021), ahead of the premieres of WandaVision and the second season of The Mandalorian. Additionally, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was the most-watched title overall globally for that time period on Disney+, including in the Disney+ Hotstar markets.[142] Samba TV reported that 1.7 million households watched the episode in its opening weekend.[143]

Critical response

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Critical reception by episode

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 87% approval rating with an average rating of 7.82/10, based on 12 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Packed with blockbuster action and deft character beats, Falcon and the Winter Soldier proves itself worthy of Captain America's legacy with its globetrotting intrigue, mature social commentary, and the sparky rapport between stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan."[144] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 74 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[145]

In his review of the first episode, Alec Bojalad of Den of Geek believed releasing the series' episodes weekly was a detriment to the series, since the first episode played as the first act of a larger story and felt "frustratingly incomplete at times" compared to how watching the full series at once would likely feel. This was in contrast to Marvel Studios' first series, WandaVision, which had been "unquestionably an episodic experience" with each episode standing on its own and having episode television-style cliffhanger endings.[146] By the third episode, Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone felt the series was "leaning way into the 'six-hour movie' model at this point, where the only concern is advancing the plot by any means necessary, regardless of how interesting it is on its own". He believed compared to WandaVision, which was "very clearly built to be consumed weekly", The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would have been better to view all at once than as weekly episodes.[147] Sepinwall would later add in his fourth episode review that the series had "remain[ed] competent and little more. It's a show in which lots of things happen in each episode, yet the individual episodes feel sluggish because those various incidents don't do much beyond inching the plot forward."[148] Speaking to the inclusion of Zemo in the series, Sepinwall felt Brühl had "single-handedly carried the season's middle chapters" despite what overall felt like a minor role in the series.[149]

Accolades

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
MTV Movie & TV Awards May 16, 2021 Best Hero Anthony Mackie Pending [150]
Best Duo Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan Pending

Emmy Awards campaign

Ahead of the final episode, Marvel Studios had decided to submit The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in the various drama series categories for the Primetime Emmy Awards, rather than in the limited series categories. Moore explained that this decision was made around the launch of the series since they felt the series was "a bit more dramatic" than past Marvel Studios content, and being one of the studio's first television series, the drama categories were "appropriate for what the show is trying to tackle". He added that there had not yet been any consideration if Mackie and Stan would both be submitted for Outstanding Lead Actors or one also in Outstanding Supporting Actor.[151]

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Reception articles: 17

Documentary special

In February 2021, the documentary series Marvel Studios: Assembled was announced.[152] The special on this series, Assembled: The Making of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, will go behind the scenes of the making of the series with cast members.[152][138] The special will be released on Disney+ on April 30, 2021.[138]

Future

Before the series premiere, Mackie said there had been no discussions regarding a second season of the series, and he was not sure when he would next appear in an MCU film especially due to the pandemic's impact on cinemas.[10] Skogland said she was unsure if there would be a second season and felt that she had been able to do everything that she wanted in the first six episodes, but she did say that there were more stories and characters to explore if a second season was made.[153] Feige said there were ideas for what "another one" could be if a second season was made, but Marvel intended for the series to lead into future MCU films first like they did with WandaVision.[61] He added that he did not want to spoil the series by confirming a second season or discussing the plans that Marvel had for the series' characters before the series was fully released.[16] In April 2021, Moore said the end of the series would show story elements for a potential second season, adding that the series explored "evergreen" topics that lent themselves to further exploration, unlike the contained story of WandaVision.[151]

On April 23, 2021, the same day the series' final episode was released, Spellman and series writer Dalan Musson were revealed to be writing the script for a fourth Captain America film that was expected to revolve around Wilson and continue from the events of the series.[154]

Overview of "Untitled Captain America sequel" article

Notes

  1. ^ The series is titled Captain America and the Winter Soldier at the end of the sixth episode. Future episodes or the upcoming film sequel may incorporate this.[2]
  2. ^ As a result of the Avengers' actions during the events of the film Avengers: Endgame (2019).
  3. ^ As a result of her actions during the events of the film Captain America: Civil War (2016).
  4. ^ As depicted in Captain America: Civil War.

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