Spinning out of Avengers: Endgame, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up on a world out of order. The blip has been reversed and the ramifications can continue to be felt. This is what the first episode, “New World Order” reminds us. The world is not normal.
We’re reminded by that through the experiences of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes who are reminded again and again that their lives and futures are anything but normal. They are hounded and haunted by their pasts and their legacy. As much as they want to go about their lives, their reality is now anything but conventional.
And that’s the strength of “New World Order” and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The series grounds itself in its debut. While it opens with an over-the-top action sequence, the episodes’ heart and vigor is its focus on these two as average people.
Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) was a soldier thrown into the world of superheroics. The series fleshes out his world introducing us to his family as he returns home to deal with their failing fishing business and house that’s soon to be lost to the bank. We’re given a start reminder that Wilson does what he does out of duty, not for the paycheck or riches. He’s an average person who has stepped up to serve and defend. He represents what we can and probably should be.
Adepero Oduye plays Wilson’s sister Sarah Wilson. She shows a strength and grounded reality delivering a perfect counter to Wilson. Sarah is more grounded in reality tending to the family’s world after the loss of their parents. Sarah drags Sam out of the sky and back into reality as he visits his family to figure out what they should do. Under a mountain of debt, the Wilson’s are a reminder that even the best of us aren’t rewarded and those with good in their hearts have the deck stacked against them.
The other side of the coin is Sebastian Stan‘s Bucky Barnes, aka Winter Soldier. He’s also a former soldier who stepped up when duty called. Unlike Sam, Bucky isn’t haunted by responsibility so much as his past actions. As the Winter Soldier, he was brainwashed and committed atrocious acts that haunt him. He’s a soldier suffering from PTSD, the trauma from his actions and crimes he’s attempting to move past. He’s also a man out of time like Captain America. At over 100 years old, he’s disconnected a bit from our world, confused by how things are and the current society. At the same time, he literally has one arm in the modern world, always having a reminder of who he was and is and how much of an anachronism he is.
Sam and Bucky together embody aspects of Captain America. A man who saw only a duty to serve during World War II and later became stuck out of time. In the end he saught piece having served. Captain America’s legacy in ways haunt both Sam and Bucky. And that’s what the series is about, who will pick up the mantle in multiple ways.
But, it’s also where the debut episode fails. It’s not a complete story. “New World Order” is a setup of the series where you have to watch further, it’s a piece of the puzzle. That’s how some episodic entertainment is, while others can deliver both the meta/ongoing story while also serving individual slices to enjoy.
The episode is a solid debut and enjoyable but it doesn’t feel totally complete. It also foreshadows things a bit too much.
The series shows a lot of potential and interest in diving into what it means to be a hero as well as the price it pays to be one. That has a lot of promise and would seem to continue some of the themes of the other recent Marvel Studios’ show WandaVision.
For fans who love these characters or have bought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the debut feels like slipping into something comfortable to hug you. It builds off of the films to continue the adventures. For those unfamiliar and new to the world, you might want to wait to binge the series to get a more complete experience. As is, the debut feels a bit more of a teaser than a complete story.
Overall Rating: 7.75