In Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”, Sam Wilson talks of the Big Three. “Androids. Aliens. Wizards.“, Sam informs as Bucky, unamused at his co-worker’s attempts to quip his way right before a mission, gives him a piece of his 106-year-old mind.
“There are no wizards.”
“-Is a sorcerer.”
“A sorcerer… is a wizard without a hat…”
Cue the roll of eyeballs from The Winter Soldier and an overjoyed Falcon chuckling at his own line. Ah, we could watch this all day.
Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off at the start of the year with a most unique entry. Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision”, a series that took inspiration from six decades of television, interweaved a contained narrative with subversive writing and pleased both fans and critics alike. Without a doubt, the hive of fans swarmed the narrative, poring for golden eggs, with the weekly fan theories, however absurd, continuing to pile up.
In the end, it didn’t matter whether those crazy theories paid off due to one thing: It was “Agatha All Along”. Man, that jingle still courses through our brainwaves from time to time as we prepare our morning cereal.
Anyway, come Friday, the Big Three (if that’s even a thing) will be taking a backseat as the world needs saving from two heroes with a very specific set of skills.
James “Bucky” Barnes aka The Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson aka The Falcon first appeared on the pages of the Captain America comics in 1941 and 1969 respectively, serving as sidekicks to the famed Super Soldier. Indeed, these two personas have been essential elements to Captain America’s ethos and pathos, braving through the thick and thin with the man himself. As a matter of fact, both of these characters have also assumed the patriotic mantle at certain points in time, with Sam Wilson being the most recent.
Sam and Bucky’s journeys in the MCU have similarly been bound to Steve Roger’s tale since “The First Avenger”. They’ve been very much on his left, serving as both accomplice and foil to his nature. The development of these characters has been nothing short of spectacular. Conflict? Brotherhood? Loyalty? Yes! But most of all, there has been tremendous respect for the shield and what it stands for.
Following the Battle of Earth, Steve Rogers takes the Infinity Stones back to their respective timelines and goes on to live an alternate life with the love of his life, Peggy Carter. Needless to say, he returns to the present day to provide some sage advice to Sam Wilson, before passing his shield, along with his mantle and legacy to Sam.
“How does it feel?”
“Like it’s someone else’s?”
Marvel Studios’ new series, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”, builds upon that aftermath and the legacy of the shield with Sam and Bucky embarking on a globetrotting mission 6 months later, facing down new and vicious threats. Staring contests may be one thing but going toe to toe with powered enemies may prove to be too much for one hero to handle alone. As this unlikely pairing will soon learn, the line between good and evil is not just delineated by the Star-Spangled red, white, and blue.
According to head writer Malcolm Spellman, the 12-second interaction in “Captain America: Civil War” was something that every single Marvel fan, Kevin Feige withal, craved more of. Building upon that premise allowed stars Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie to work their magic into that very dynamic and bring upon a whole new spin to these characters within the cinematic universe. Describing the show as a mix between the various offerings of the buddy-cop genre which includes films like “Rush Hour”, “Lethal Weapon”, and “48 Hours”, Spellman commented that the show provides audiences with a deeper dive into the heart and soul of these characters that we have grown to love.
Stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan further expanded on that notion, affirming that viewers will get to see more of their backstories, family, and all. The lingering effects of one’s past, and even PTSD, are also a major defining point in their being because, first and foremost, these two have gone through a lot as soldiers. Truly, this helped to ground the show in a more realistic manner.
We recently had the fine opportunity of sitting down with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan virtually via Zoom as they discussed the show’s themes, the struggles of working during a pandemic along with some fun and juicy tidbits about the series they worked so hard on.
1. Of all of the characters in the MCU, why do you think The Falcon and The Winter Soldier story is one that needs to be told particularly in this TV show format?
SEBASTIAN STAN: We’re left off with a question mark at the end of “Endgame” and we’re also left off wondering about how these two are going to handle the end of “Endgame”. ‘What does Captain America mean?’ That in itself is interesting. It’s worth exploring. We’ve never really learnt so much about these two. Particularly for Sam, we never really learnt that much if you think about it. Just going deeper and having six hours to really flesh out who these guys are, why they are the way they are, and going into their psychology at this point felt very accurate and earned.
2. Disney+ is off to a flying start with its Marvel series. Obviously “WandaVision” did extremely well. Did you guys feel a certain level of pressure in order to follow in the success of that show?
SEBASTIAN STAN: I don’t think so. Honestly, because we are such different shows. If anything, it’s been really nice to just have them usher Marvel into the streaming world if you will. It gave us a chance to hone in on our series a little bit more because we got stopped during the pandemic.
We’re just different shows. We’re both just as vital.
3. So, this is a buddy-cop action story but it’s interesting that Kari Skogland, a woman, is directing the series. In your opinion, what is it that she brings to the show?
ANTHONY MACKIE: I think Kari is very good with character development and hiding exposition. So, when you watch her work, you’re getting information from the characters but it does not feel like she’s spoonfeeding you information.
A lot of the things in the script for the characters either didn’t work or weren’t put together right, she worked out those beats and moments to make those arcs and transitions really smooth. So, her smarts are something that can’t be questioned. She really brought an intelligent feel as a director to the show.
4. Do you think Marvel made the show because of your offscreen friendship which, by the way, has a massive global fandom?
SEBASTIAN STAN: I think that definitely helped for sure. I think that the ten-second scene in Civil War was a real jumping-off point for us. They’ve paired us together now for a couple of years and I think somebody was smart enough to go “OK, maybe there’s something we can explore here.” I think the story of Captain America itself caught up to both of us at the time.
5. “Black Panther” was a huge success for Marvel. It had a black cast and black lead. In a sense, Anthony, now you are a lead in “Falcon and The Winter Soldier”. How does that make you feel? Is it a deeply personal experience for you?
ANTHONY MACKIE: Of course it is a personal experience! I’m very fortunate to do what I love. It’s something I always wanted to do. It’s a reward, a blessing, to be able to have a show like this… to have a co-star like Sebastian and to have the ability to put my talents in the ethos for people to enjoy. It’s a huge blessing and I’m very grateful for it.
That being said, with the idea of representation, the idea of what it means for The Falcon going forward, and the Marvel universe… You know, Sam Wilson is kind of the eyes and ears of the Marvel audience. He’s not a superhero. He’s a regular guy that was asked by Captain America to help out. So, of course, there’s pride that goes along with that. Of course, there’s the recognition that comes along with that.
So, you just have to take it all in stride and never lose sight of yourself. That’s my goal. It would be so easy to become something that I’m not. So, I’m just going to focus on what I am.
6. Did you two ever seek out advice from Chris Evans or talk to him about your involvement in this show?
SEBASTIAN STAN: No. Not really. No. I don’t know if Anthony did. I don’t think so. No. [chuckles]
ANTHONY MACKIE: Neither did I.
SEBASTIAN STAN: Because when we were shooting “Endgame”, we didn’t even know that we were going to do this series…
7. So there are a couple of exciting cameos from the first episode that are really exciting. Can you tease any other potential cameos that may be coming our way?
ANTHONY MACKIE: We don’t know. We haven’t seen the complete show yet!
SEBASTIAN STAN: Well yeah! Surprises are surprises.
8. Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo is back. How does he factor into this series? Does his emergence from the shadows affect Bucky in any way?
SEBASTIAN STAN: Well, he’s tied into both The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s past. It’s almost impossible not to have him involved in a way.
As for whether it affects Bucky, it absolutely does not! Helmut Zemo just comes on, buys an Armani three-piece suit, and then leaves. That’s sort of his whole arc!
ANTHONY MACKIE: He goes shopping… [giggles]
9. What did you like about each of your characters both on and off-screen? What sets this pair apart from all the other duos in the MCU?
ANTHONY MACKIE: I would say Bucky’s best characteristic would be his take no s*** attitude. I love how stern he is and how focused he is on getting the job done.
SEBASTIAN STAN: As for the other duos, there are none in the MCU that are of this caliber. We’re both the most charming men!
10. Are there any particular scenes that you enjoyed the most during filming?
SEBASTIAN STAN: I would say anytime that we had a staring contest is always an interesting time because it’s sort of about who breaks first. And that’s usually me.
And just me guessing whether or not Anthony had his lunch before his scene because that was going to affect our energy going into it.
ANTHONY MACKIE: [Chuckles]
SEBASTIAN STAN: REAL MEN EAT!
ANTHONY MACKIE: I have to say that there were a lot of scenes, lines and things between the two of us in the show. I feel that one of my favourite scenes was the one on the cargo plane that was in the trailer. I find that to be so funny because The Winter Soldier is just trying so hard to just, you know, be my friend. And I’m still over him and the idea of him. It just plays really well in the show.
11. What’s your biggest takeaway from finally being able to get back to work after the pandemic shut everything down? Is there anything that feels very timely for you in this show?
ANTHONY MACKIE: Appreciation. It’s really put things in perspective for me. Just slowing down, smelling the roses, and really appreciating the joy of doing whatever we love, I think, is a big thing for us… for me. It really puts things in perspective for me to have it all snatched away and now, having the opportunity to go back to it is huge.
SEBASTIAN STAN: I would say the whole nature of this show feels very timely… and the questions that it is asking and exploring all feel very timely. The show was supposed to come out in August of last year. It didn’t. A lot of things have happened since August of last year up until now.
I believe everything always happens for a reason but the series is coming out after all these things we’ve witnessed collectively. I think when you see “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”, you’re going to see how much more timely it is.
Having watched the first episode of “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”, we can undeniably tell you that it’s an explosive, action-packed MCU extravaganza with a specific amount of grit to it. There’s a distinct familiarity, surely, as the presence of Steve Roger’s Captain America is very much felt in the episode; his legacy, shield, contributions all mementoes of the past.
Nevertheless, while that was interesting to see, it does not overshadow the reinvention of Sam and Bucky’s arcs in any way as the duo are granted moments to grow and interact with the new characters and additions to the show. The signature quips have been kept to a minimum too for now but it will only get more intense from this point onward.
It might be hard to believe but oh hell yes, you’re gonna witness some of the greatest Falcon butt-kickery ever put together onscreen. Marvel Studios just went ahead and winged it! So, verily, we’d say that this pilot is a great tease for things yet to come. We guess we’ll be with “The Falcon and The Winter” till the end of the line!
Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon And The Winter Soldier” swoops in exclusively on Disney+ this 19th March.