An FSR prediction has come true with a little bit of a twist. When reporting on the big news about Disney and Marvel’s planned limited series for Loki and Scarlet Witch last month, our own Christopher Campbell briefly mulled over the possibility of Sam Wilson / Falcon (Anthony Mackie) getting his own small-screen vehicle someday. Now, as reported by Variety, we can actually expect Falcon to join the ranks of Disney’s in-house streaming service after all. And he’ll have Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) as a co-headliner.
Disney previously announced that “second-tier” Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes — those unlikely to star in their own movies as the franchise chugs along — would get to lead streamable series instead. These shows will run anywhere between six to eight episodes apiece. Importantly, rather than rely on the resources of Marvel Television (which makes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the company’s Netflix ventures), they have the full arsenal of Marvel’s film arm at their disposal. That includes the direct “hands-on” involvement of pioneer producer Kevin Feige.
Neither the Mouse House nor Marvel Studios are concretely confirming anything remotely related to these off-shoots. That said, what makes the Falcon-Winter Soldier vehicle more of a sure bet even in its preliminary stages lies in the fact that a writer has been hired to tackle the series. Malcolm Spellman, who is best-known for his work on Empire, will reportedly write the show.
Frankly, as there is constantly a ton to look forward to when it comes to the MCU, holding off on all kinds of excitement until we know more about this Falcon-Winter Soldier series would be a logical response. Yet, as a fan of this neverending superhero franchise, and a nostalgic cinema goer who is less-than-willing to let old heroes go that easily, I’m already thinking about how this show is basically brimming with possibilities.
The Sam and Bucky team-up is, in and of itself, a great place to anchor a series. Although both characters are introduced as ideal companions to Steve Rogers / Captain America at different points of the hero’s life, they’ve come together to tease out a possibly fun and exuberant dynamic. Mackie and Stan showcase tons of vibrancy and infectious personality when Sam and Bucky get to fight side-by-side in Captain America: Civil War. The results are good-natured and hilarious, too. Bucky, in particular, doesn’t often get to be especially funny in the Marvel films. Nobody could be expected to be after they’ve been brainwashed and turned into a killing machine. Nevertheless, the scenes that he shares with Sam are peppered with snarky levity. “Can you move your seat up?” could totally spawn so much more ribbing.
Of course, there is tension and suspicion between both characters as well, which feasibly draws out enough drama for six to eight episodes of TV. Really, Sam just deserves more backstory, in general. Because although we know certain facts about him — that he is as good-natured as Steve, a military veteran, and committed to helping others after his years of service — he hasn’t been given the chance to effectively lead any storylines on the big screen. Sam’s motivations to help Steve are barely fleshed out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier due to all the moving parts present in that film. With more time to spare in a series, the audience would really get to know him definitively beyond the extant nuance of Mackie’s portrayal.
Comparatively, Bucky has been given more screen time. In fact, he isn’t just vital to the central plot of his eponymous Captain America sequel. Civil War further examines how Bucky’s past actions constantly haunt him. Moreover, the film unpacks Steve’s relationship with Bucky, specifically how crucial it is to the former’s worldview. In turn, could Bucky still have more than his fair share of demons to fight moving forward? Granted, he spends a fair amount of time recuperating in Wakanda. When we next see Bucky in Avengers: Infinity War, he already seems healed and at ease. He smiles in that movie! Genuinely!
Yet, given that the Falcon-Winter Soldier series will likely be set in the aftermath of Avengers 4, something definitively big (and probably sad) is bound to happen to Captain America as we know it. That may or may not introduce trauma into the dynamic yet again. Furthermore, there has long been chatter about who could take up Cap’s mantle once Chris Evans definitively bids the role farewell. Both Sam and Bucky are known to pick up the vibranium shield at some point in the comics. A happy medium for their onscreen counterparts would be for them to continue Steve’s fight for justice as a duo.
In short, the big question I have going into this limited series is who would these characters be without Steve as a present common denominator? Even Mackie himself once seemed perturbed at the idea of not having Steve as Cap by Sam’s side. Nevertheless, with Stan’s Bucky along for the ride, this Falcon-Winter Soldier series could go in a variety of directions and all those avenues could finally give these characters their due.