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Thursday, June 17, 2021

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Film Fridays: “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”

<p><em>Graphic by Carissa Gurgul</em></p>

Graphic by Carissa Gurgul

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian. 

If you’ve been paying any attention to cinema over the last decade, you have undoubtedly encountered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some form. With trademark heroes like Iron Man and Captain America filling our screens with climactic battles and heart-wrenching losses, it’s easy to forget about the minor heroes in the MCU. 

Thankfully, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” the newest Disney+ show from Marvel, gives some much-deserved screentime to these beloved protagonists.  Both Falcon and the Winter Soldier have appeared throughout the MCU, yet even with their limited screen time, fans wanted more content centered on these endearing figures. It’s great to see how both of these characters have evolved into more than simply one-dimensional superheroes. 

Praise also goes to the actors bringing each character to life. Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon, and Sebastian Stan, who plays the Winter Soldier, are the driving forces behind much of the comedic elements and their ability to go from light-hearted humor to serious and emotional subjects gives the show an impressive amount of depth for only six episodes. 

Mackie and Stan aren’t the only stand-out stars. Daniel Brühl, who previously appeared as Baron Zemo in “Captain America: Civil War,” returns as the calculated villain and quickly steals every scene he is in with his personable -- yet unnerving -- personality. Zemo’s first appearance in the MCU divided our beloved heroes and caused them to turn on each other, nothing really beyond that. However, his ambition and aims have expanded in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and it is great to have a lot more character development for such an interesting anti-hero. 

When the trio of Brühl, Mackie and Stan share the screen, their chemistry pulls you into their world and doesn’t feel like you’re watching an ordinary MCU film. Even the smallest argument, -- such as the one surrounding the breakdown of Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” soundtrack -- is highly entertaining.  

With the plot picking up roughly six months after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” it is great to dive back into the near-dystopian and clearly divided Earth that Thanos left behind. With the events of “Endgame” resolving many of the storylines of most Marvel characters, a looming question that remained was how the legacy of Captain America would live on. 

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” answers that question and even goes beyond by exploring what being Captain America really means, including the tragedy of those around his shield. The show also examines race in America in a way not previously explored in the MCU. The show’s portrayal and social commentary have divided fans on the MCU becoming political. However, I don’t feel that the show makes any political statements that take away from its entertainment value.

I don’t want to spoil any major plot points by commenting further, but some of these emotional confrontations and revelations made me tear up and left me thinking after the credits had rolled.

All I will say is that whenever Isaiah Bradley (excellently portrayed by Carl Lumbly) is on-screen, it is amazing. He makes brief appearances throughout certain episodes, but he demands attention and embodies the pain and suffering of his character excellently. I had no idea what his role would be in the show a few weeks ago, but I have been pleasantly surprised after each episode’s release. 

With the final episode released today, now is the perfect time to dive in. Since there are only six episodes with run-times averaging about an hour, you can quickly binge “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” It is available to stream on Disney+, and I couldn’t recommend it more for MCU and non-MCU fans alike. 

Contact columnist Quinn Humphrey at quinn.humphrey@richmond.edu.

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