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What we know about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, coming to Disney Plus
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was one of the first projects announced as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four in 2019. Originally scheduled for a 2020 release ahead of WandaVision, the series is now set to launch later this year.
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier catches up with two of Captain America’s main allies. On their own without Cap, the two form a new alliance in what looks to be a buddy cop series on a grand scale.
So, let’s have a look at everything we know about Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Warning: This story contains a discussion of major plot points from Avengers: Endgame and other Marvel Cinematic Universe titles. Potential spoilers ahead!
Getting from Captain America to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are among the oldest established MCU characters.
Bucky Barnes, the titular Winter Soldier, first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger. He was one of Steve Rogers’s childhood best friends in Brooklyn and later died fighting alongside Cap in World War II. Or so we thought. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky returned. He was actually captured during the war, and the evil organization HYDRA experimented on him, turning him into an unwitting agent through mind-control.
Captain America: Winter Soldier also marked the first appearance of Sam Wilson, a former USAF Pararescue specialist who bonds with Steve over their shared patriotism and service. The two fight the brainwashed Bucky, with Sam donning a new flight suit and becoming the Falcon, the newest member of the Avengers.
Read more: The best Marvel movies on Disney Plus
All three are reunited in Captain America: Civil War. Here, allegiances are tested and pushed to their limits, with Cap and Falcon working together to hide Bucky, who’s regaining his memories, in opposition to the new Sokovia accords, which limit the Avengers’ powers and hold them accountable to forces that would punish Bucky for crimes he committed under hypnosis and duress.
From there, Sam and Bucky return in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame as members of the Avengers, fighting Thanos and saving the world. In the final moments of Endgame, Steve Rogers, having time-traveled and returned to the present as an old man, hands his iconic shield over to Sam. The implication is that the Falcon is next in line to take up the Captain America mantle.
What’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier all about?
As with other MCU shows, Disney and Marvel haven’t released a ton of information on what The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is about. We can still piece together a fair bit from trailers and available synopses though.
Following the events of Avengers: End Game, Sam and Bucky team up to fight crime, though there are some obvious tensions between them. Trailers suggest Bucky has initially gone off-grid, living the simple, non-superhero life on a fishing boat. When he’s pulled back in, he and Sam bicker and are forced into a kind of couple’s counseling for super friends. Neither seems to like it, and they use the exercise as one more excuse to compete.
Following the events of Avengers: End Game, Sam and Bucky team up to fight crime but not without some tension between them.
Their main antagonists are a mix of new and old foes. Making a surprise comeback is Helmut Zemo, who we last saw in Captain America: Civil War. After losing his family in Sokovia, Zemo went after the Avengers. He used Bucky’s mind-control programming against them. Having ultimately failed, Zemo should have faced justice after Black Panther captured him. Instead, he’s back, wearing his signature purple mask from the comics. Also in the fray are the Flag Smashers. In the comics, Flag-Smasher is a single man, Karl Morgenthau, an anti-nationalist terrorist who faces off with the likes of Captain America. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it looks like our heroes will take on a whole anarchist team.
A major throughline of the series also appears to concern who the new Captain America will be. In the comics, both Sam and Bucky have taken on the title and shield. Now, the two are looking for a way to honor Steve and what he stood for. “The legacy of that shield is complicated,” says Sam. “People need something to get behind. They need the symbol,” Bucky responds.
When and where can you watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will stream exclusively on Disney Plus. It premieres on March 19. This means it will run right on the heels of the WandaVision finale, with just one empty week in between.
The series will likely have a weekly rollout, like WandaVision and other Disney Plus originals like The Mandolorian. The Disney model thus far has seen new episodes drop on the streaming site every Friday, creating a sense of appointment viewing like linear TV programming. The buzz around these shows lasts for weeks, so Disney is likely to keep that momentum up for the foreseeable future.
The key players
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are back as the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, respectively, and Daniel Brühl reprises his role as Zemo. Another familiar face glimpsed in the trailers is Emily VanCamp, who played Sharon Carter (the niece of Steve’s long-lost love Peggy) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Carter is Agent 13 of the intelligence service S.H.I.E.L.D. As such, she’ll likely team up with our heroes.
In addition, Don Cheadle recently revealed on the BroBible’s Post-Credit Podcast that his MCU character, the Iron Man-like power-armored character War Machine, will appear at some point on the show. It’s likely only to be a cameo role. MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre has also confirmed he will be on the show. Once again, he will play Batroc The Leaper, the terrorist taken down by Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
New to the game is John Walker, who comics readers know as U.S. Agent. Wyatt Russel will play him in the show. Like Sam and Bucky, U.S. Agent has taken on the Captain America title, which means he may be pitted against our heroes here. His comics background includes being an Avenger but also an antagonist to Cap, so there’s lots of room for theorizing. Marvel Studios is keeping his appearance somewhat mysterious. We only see him in the back in the two trailers that have been revealed. The official posters show him but only in a shadowy-like profile.
That same scene from the trailer hints at the use of Captain America as a national symbol and tool for propaganda. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers abandoned his role as military mouthpiece, recognizing the need for real action and not just empty pageantry. But now we see what looks like U.S. Agent waving to the crowds on a football field. However, does he represent the same values as Steve Rogers?
Also new is Solo: A Star Wars Story’s Erin Kellyman, who looks to be the leader of the Flag Smashers, wearing a mask with a red handprint on it. Will she be a gender-flipped take on Karl Morgenthau or a new character altogether? We’ll see in March!
Behind the camera, Kari Skogland is directing all six episodes, with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer. Skogland has a huge list of credits, including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Walking Dead, Power, and Marvel’s own The Punisher. Spellman is best known as a writer and producer on Fox’s Empire. In addition, Derek Kolstad, who is best known as the man who created the John Wick series of action films, joined the writing team on the series, and is credited with writing two of the show’s episodes.
How The Falcon and the Winter Soldier fits into the MCU
Casting alone tells us The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will revisit old storylines, including familiar friends and foes. Sharon Carter had a brief flirtation with Steve Rogers and provides a direct link to him. Did she know about Steve’s time traveling and growing old with Peggy? Is she still with S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Read more: Watch the MCU movies on Disney Plus in order
Zemo also opens some familiar doors. He killed King T’Chaka of Wakanda and appears to have escaped justice. Will his return tie into future Black Panther stories. And with Captain America and Iron Man gone, will Sam and Bucky keep what’s left of the Avengers together?
Where might The Falcon and the Winter Soldier go from here?
While Marvel likes to set up huge intersecting storylines early, they also usually stay tight-lipped about the how and the when. They’ll usually tease audiences with brief, enigmatic post-credit scenes and vague Easter eggs rather than tell us what’s what.
COVID-19 had a huge and devastating impact on the world. On a much smaller scale, the pandemic threw a wrench in Hollywood’s plans, rejigging movie release dates. Is it possible that Marvel bumped The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? A 2021 release now lines it up with other upcoming Marvel films and series, like Black Widow.
There’s lots of room for this show to intersect with other MCU projects. Disney and Marvel have been announcing an incredible number of new and returning titles. WandaVision has already been streaming since January 15. And Loki will come hot on the heels of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in May. Meanwhile, What If…? Is slated for Summer 2021, with Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel heading to the streamer in late 2021. Other upcoming MCU series in earlier stages of pre-production include Armor Wars, Secret Invasion, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Ironheart, and a show set in Black Panther’s Wakanda.
Rumors and Easter eggs
As with all Marvel projects, rumors have been swirling since before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was even announced. Actor Elijah Richardson is rumored to appear as Patriot. In the comics, Patriot is Captain America’s counterpart in the Young Avengers, and is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, who was given the Super Soldier formula sometime after Steve Rogers in WWII. If this rumor is true, it could hint at plans for a Young Avengers film or series.
There are also rumors that Florence Pugh could make an appearance as Yelena Belova, the Russian spy character she plays in the upcoming Black Widow MCU feature film. Keep in mind that Black Widow was supposed to be released a few months before The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, so her appearance in the show could link those two in some way.
The Southeast Asian island nation of Madripoor also (possibly) appears in the trailers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Like Wakanda and Sokovia, Madripoor exists only in the Marvel universe. It is a nation of gross inequality, riddled with crime and oppression. It would certainly make sense for two super-agents to make their way there, and for their foes to find shelter among the pirates and mobsters of the Madripoorian upper-class.
Sam and Bucky likely have their work cut out for them as they figure out where to go, and it sure looks like they’ll be fighting forces who want to use the shield to further their own agendas.
That’s everything we know — and a few things we don’t! — about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, coming to Disney Plus in March. We’ll be sure to provide updates as we get them!