Following the conclusion of “WandaVision,” which took the MCU and its characters to a place that we had never seen before, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” initially looks more like a return to form.
Taking place after “Avengers: Endgame,” we follow Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Falcon, and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the Winter Soldier.
Episode 1, “New World Order”, was tasked with setting up the threats that our heroes are (presumably) going to be combating during the show’s six-episode run.
We’re introduced to a new threat, the Flag-Smashers. This group favors the way life was during the Blip, an event shown at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.”
The Blip is more commonly known as “The Snap” and ended with half of the population being wiped out from existence.
What “New World Order” succeeds at is showing how the world is dealing with the repercussions of the Blip six months later. We see that the world and society are still recovering from the event, and there’s a multitude of topics that are explored in the episode.
One of the topics that was explored briefly in the episode was how Sam Wilson, as a black man, would deal with the pressure of being handed Captain America’s shield at the end of “Avengers: Endgame.”
In the course of the episode, Wilson is convinced to donate Cap’s shield to the Smithsonian at the beginning of the episode, only to see a new Captain America unveiled at the episode’s conclusion.
In a production brief detailing the show, Anthony Mackie detailed the mentality that Wilson feels regarding what the shield represents.
“Sam considers the shield a representation of the country that we live in. There’s a lot of trepidation as far as how does a Black man represents a country that does not represent him,” said Mackie.
While half of the episode focuses on Falcon and sets up the character arc that he’s bound to go through, the other half focuses on the Winter Soldier and his life following the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”
We’re shown that Bucky is a man who is trying to make amends with the people that he harmed during his time as the brainwashed Winter Soldier.
In an especially powerful scene, we’re shown that Bucky is continually having nightmares revolving around the crimes that he committed during that time and they haunt him.
Much of his time on-screen during the episode is shared with the new character Yori (portrayed by Ken Takemoto), an older man who we eventually find out is the father of a young man that Bucky murdered as the Winter Soldier. Bucky doesn’t reveal this to Yori, however.
The one, and ultimately most disappointing thing about the episode, was the fact that Bucky and Falcon shared no time on screen together. It’s understandable that they wanted to set up the world and characters before fully diving into the action, but it was a letdown.
Regardless, “New World Order” is the first episode in what is sure to be another blockbuster hit series for Disney and Marvel Studios. Writer and producer Malcolm Spellman has set a high bar, and it’s exciting to see what’s to follow.
“New World Order” gets 4.5 out of 5 stars, and it’s an excellent introduction to the series.