The first episode of The Falcon and the Winter soldier dropped on Disney+ today and it did not disappoint. From the opening moments through to the end credits New World Order continues the MCU’s excellent run of programming. Coming off the heels of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes arguably the strongest franchise in the MCU and adapts it for Disney+’s streaming service.
While perhaps not as clever in it’s storytelling as WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier appears as if it will take a more traditional approach with 48 minute episodes that are part buddy cop, part espionage thriller with a healthy dose of MCU call backs and familiar faces. New World Order kicks off with a world struggling to find it’s footing after the Blip and Steve Rogers giving up the mantle of Captain America.
While Chris Evans doesn’t appear in the episode he’s definitely there in sprit. It’s hard to have two of Cap’s besties in a series without him and his presence will no doubt be felt throughout. That being said New World Order does a great job of re-establishing the characters and where Sam and Bucky are at post Endgame.
Sam is deep into continuing his hero game running missions with the U.S. military and this sets the stage for an epic action set piece featuring Falcon at his high flying best. Tasked with protecting one of the U.S. military’s liaisons from the criminal organization known as L.A.F., Sam encounters Batroc, played once again by Georges St. Pierre. Their arial cat and mouse game is really fun to watch and ranks right up there with anything you’d see in a Bond or Mission Impossible flick. When he’s not taking on bad guys at 20, 000 feet Sam attempts to take care of his sister and their struggling family business. Another weight on his shoulders is whether or not to carry Steve’s shield. His conversation with James Rhodes is illuminating and highlights the void that exists in an ever-changing world.
Bucky on the other hand is dealing with his own demons. A Winter Soldier flashback with echoes that reverberate into the present continue to torture Bucky. Pardoned for his past sins, and now in therapy civilian life is difficult to settle into for someone who’s essentially been at war in some capacity for almost 70 years. Although Bucky’s trying to right some of his former wrongs without breaking any laws, there are some that can never truly be set right. It’s a heavy burden for Bucky to bear and one that forms the basis for one of the few friendships he has.
Legacy plays a huge role in New World Order. Sam tries unsuccessfully to find funding for his family’s business to help his sister and to carry on the good work of his late parents. He also has to deal with the expectations of others where Cap is concerned. While the government agrees with Sam mothballing the shield and putting it in the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian, Rhodey sees things differently. He knows Sam is capable of carrying the shield, but it’s Sam who isn’t ready to admit it.
Bucky has his own struggle with legacy, one that most likely became clear for him while he was in Wakanda. Those rare moments of peace, where he wasn’t someone’s pawn or lethal killing machine, made him think long and hard about how many people have died by his hand. Trying to undo his work for Hydra is cathartic but not enough stop the nightmares that keep him up at night. There’s also the unsettling fact that like Cap, he’s a man out of his time, except that while Steve Rogers was worthy enough to lift Thor’s Hammer, he wasn’t judged worthy enough to carry the shield by the man who wielded it with honor and distinction.
New World Order is a thrilling, thought provoking and well executed start to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It captured the best elements of the Captain America MCU flicks while continuing to world build. Two new menaces are introduced, the aforementioned L.A.F. and the Flag Smashers, a new terrorist group wrecking havoc in Europe. The look on Sam’s face when the new Captain America is announced, carrying Steve’s shield no less, is priceless and is sure to set off emotions he was unwilling to confront. All of this and Sam and Bucky haven’t even been reunited yet. Next Friday can’t come soon enough.