Photo: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’/Disney+
The Marvel Cinematic Universe Perseveres
Before the chaos-infested year of 2020 took off in all of its grim glory, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had already positioned itself to tackle new terrain. With the release of 2008’s ‘Iron Man,’ Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige introduced the world to a new kind of superhero film experience that would blend each and every fan-favorite hero into one seamless universe of movies. Over the course of 20 films and 11 years, the MCU expanded not only the vibrancy of its film catalogue, but the concept of what a movie franchise can become.
The unprecedented prowess of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is exhibited in other film franchises’ assimilation to the “cinematic universe” formula as Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe and Paramount’s ‘Transformers’ Universe coalesced following the record-breaking box office hits of ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Iron Man 3.’ Despite the influx of challengers, no other studio was as prosperous as Marvel was over its first decade of superhero spectacle, reaping in billions of dollars at the global box office. Change inevitably arrived for the MCU with ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ a film that was set to be the finale of the Marvel universe we had grown accustomed to.
Indeed, ‘Endgame’ did serve as a satisfying culmination of what the very first Marvel films set out to do, most poignantly in the gratifying conclusions of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America characters. With the two main protagonists of the entire cinematic universe no longer attached to the franchise, Marvel effectively challenged themselves to restart their series of films and once again enter uncharted water. Unfortunately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was not alone in traversing new terrain in 2020. While Feige might have had a plan for what the next phase of the MCU would look like, superhero fans have had to wait patiently to experience his vision as the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the release dates of several of Marvel’s scheduled films such as ‘Black Widow’ and ‘The Eternals’ which were both set for 2020 theatrical debuts.
Kevin Feige also promised a shake-up to their blueprint with the bold decision to include the Disney+ series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the release schedule for these series had also been shifted around in response to COVID-19, in January of 2021 audiences finally gained access to ‘WandaVision,’ the first indication of Marvel’s new direction. The first revelation of ‘WandaVision’ is just how much fans love the fusion between Marvel and Disney+! With the premiere of the latest episodes, Parrot Analytics reported that ‘WandaVision’ became the most-watched show in the world at the current moment. In addition to clarifying just how popular the MCU remains to be, the Marvel series also indicated that Feige is utilizing these shows to explore the ins and outs of these previously sidelined characters as ‘WandaVision’ sees the epic journey of Wanda Maximoff finally realizing her potential as the infamous Scarlet Witch. With the beloved Elizabeth Olsen series coming to an end, there is only one way to cope: getting hyped for what’s next.
Everything We Know about ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’
Throughout their careers in the MCU Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier) redefined the scorned role of the superhero sidekick. Serving as Captain America’s closest friends and allies in films like ‘Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ Falcon and Winter Soldier are long overdue for a Marvel title of their very own. Originally set to be the premiere Disney+ project for the MCU in August 2020, COVID-19 shuffled ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ back to March 19, 2021, releasing just a couple of weeks after the conclusion of ‘WandaVision.’ Although Feige is notorious for retaining as much information about an upcoming project as possible for maximum shock potential, here are the things we know for sure about the upcoming superhero series.
First of all, The series will be directed by Kari Skogland whose work on gritty series like ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘The Punisher,’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ suggests that ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ will not be for the weak of heart. Additionally, Feige has let slip that the action series will be made up of six 40-50 minute episodes, although this could be subject to change as ‘WandaVision’ was initially reported to have six episodes as well before releasing to its ultimate nine. As far as story details, the vast majority of the plot is unknown, but several assumptions are safe to make. One of these assumptions is that the rivalry between Falcon and Winter Soldier will reach its climax during the show. The pair have overcome their friction for the sake of their common denominator, but with Captain America now out of the picture, Sam and Bucky will have to find other ways to sort out their differences. The Super Bowl trailer for the series even shows the superhero duo in a couple’s therapy session that unproductively culminates in a staring contest.
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One reason why the two could find themselves butting heads is the unclaimed Captain America mantle. In the comics, both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes have donned the Captain’s shield; however, it remains unclear who will take on the promotion following Steve Rogers’ departure. Although many fans assumed that Cap handing his shield down to Sam at the end of ‘Endgame’ revealed that the Falcon is next in line for the throne, Mackie set the record straight in an interview with SiriusXM, “The idea of the show is basically, you know, and at the end of ‘Endgame’, Cap decided he was going into retirement and he asked me if I would take up the shield, but at no point in time did I agree to or say that I would be Captain America.”
Mackie elaborated, “The show walks the line of who is going to take up the shield and who’s going to be Captain America if Steve isn’t coming back.” The final detail we can count on before heading into ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ is the return of two familiar faces; Emily VanCamp as Cap’s short-term love interest Sharon Carter and Daniel Bruhl as the vengeful villain Baron Zemo. The series will also see the debut of a new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 22 Jump Street’s Wyatt Russell as John Walker (aka US Agent), a popular hero from the Captain America comics.
Theories, Guesses, and Clues for the Future of ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’
Just because Marvel keeps the juiciest parts of their projects under wraps doesn’t mean it’s not fun to predict and discuss what could happen in ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.’ First off, it is likely Baron Zemo will take on a storyline closer in line to that of his comic book counterpart. This is a safe bet as the latest trailer of the Disney+ series reveals that Zemo is donning his iconic purple mask, perhaps signifying that this iteration of Baron will be more inspired by the comics than his character was during ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ One of these possible devious plots includes the resurgence of classic Captain America foe, HYDRA, an organization Zemo has led in recent comics. Although HYDRA appeared to have been defeated by Cap and the gang in ‘Winter Soldier,’ Marvel fans have been fooled into believing the evil institution was beheaded before.
Another fun fan theory about the upcoming ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ revolves around the development of Sharon Carter’s character. In the previous films Carter has proven herself to be a loyal and dependable ally to Captain America, so what can we expect from her in a Cap-less future? Excitingly, all signs point to a much more reckless Agent Carter. The first clue to this was included in the series’ most recent trailer in which Sharon is seen taking down several opponents with a lead pipe. Additionally, many fans have theorized that Carter will be on the run throughout the series based on alleged print for a Hot Topic shirt that features a “wanted” ad for the arrest of the rogue agent. Whether or not these rumors have any merit and Sharon Carter gears up for a more anti-hero lifestyle is yet to be seen.
Other major questions around ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ is what its lasting impact on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe will be. When announcing ‘WandaVision,’ Kevin Feige explained that the events Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff undergoes in the series will directly tie into the next Doctor Strange film, ‘Multiverse of Madness.’ Feige has not made any similar sort of announcement for ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,’ but that does not mean that the show won’t have drastic effects on the future of the MCU. One potential repercussion could be the determined destiny of Captain America. Whether Sam, Bucky, or some wild third option fills in for Steve Rogers, whoever takes hold of the shield is sure to set a new era for the entire Marvel universe.
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Christopher Davis is an entertainment enthusiast dedicated to the diverse and ever-expanding terrain of film and television. He is eager to examine entertainment that pushes the boundaries of the screen and offers new texture to popular culture altogether. Christopher is excited to write for Hollywood Insider, where he is encouraged to engage in factual and substance-based discourse. Christopher finds inspiration in media that is compelling to consume, sparks progress and evokes compassion.