No longer content with dominating multiplexes around the world with their blockbuster epics, Marvel Studios are now storming into the streaming arena with a slate of exciting new shows.
Unlike previous offerings from Marvel Television, these upcoming original programmes will prominently feature stars from the movies and link directly to ongoing storylines around the universe.
First up, Captain America’s trusted allies Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are joining forces once again for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus.
The six-part series looks set to deal with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, which saw Steve Rogers retire from superhero duties and pass his shield on to an apprehensive Falcon.
Exact plot details have been kept tightly under wraps, as is standard practice for an MCU project, but we do know that Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo and Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter are back in the fray after a lengthy absence.
Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) will serve as chief director on the mega-budget streaming show, working from a globe-trotting script penned by Malcolm Spellman (Empire).
The team was agonisingly close to wrapping up filming in Europe when the coronavirus pandemic forced production to be halted, casting doubt on whether its release date will be postponed.
Here’s everything we know about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier:
What is Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s release date?
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was initially announced as an Autumn release, but Deadline revealed in January that the series had been bumped up to a launch date in late August 2020.
That date was confirmed by Disney boss Bob Iger at a shareholder meeting the following month, meaning that the show will be the first original Marvel series to launch on the company’s new streaming service.
Of course, the coronavirus outbreak has since wreaked havoc on countries all over the world, prompting all filming on Marvel’s Disney+ shows to be halted – including Falcon and Winter Soldier, which was mere weeks away from wrapping up.
After a lengthy delay, the series appears to be gearing up to resume shooting in the Czech Republic soon, as the country’s film commission recently told Variety that productions were “welcome” to return.
Still, due to the unanticipated lockdown break, there is a real possibility that the series could be pushed to a later release date, although no official announcement has been made just yet.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier cast
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will be reprising their respective roles as Air Force operative turned literal wingman Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) and reformed KGB assassin Bucky Barnes, better known by his codename The Winter Soldier.
But they aren’t the only familiar faces returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for this series, as Daniel Brühl will also be back as his Captain America: Civil War baddie Baron Zemo.
He made a big impression in that 2016 crossover epic, by driving a sizeable wedge between Captain America and Iron Man which ultimately left Earth vulnerable to Thanos’ forces in Avengers: Infinity War.
For his reappearance, it has been confirmed that Brühl will be sporting the character’s iconic costume from the comics, which includes a distinctive purple face mask – particularly appropriate in the era of COVID-19.
Another returning character who has been conspicuously absent since Civil War is Agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who Steve Rogers had a brief dalliance with before travelling back in time to marry her great aunt (awkward).
Sharon has been involved in several major Captain America storylines in the comic books, so her casting here is quite significant and fans will be intrigued to find out how “the snap” affected her.
Black Mirror star Wyatt Russell is set to appear as USAgent, a government sanctioned Captain America copycat with a dark side, who can be glimpsed in a familiar getup in new concept art below…
Noah Mills (The Brave) and Carl Lumbly (Alias) have also joined the cast in undisclosed roles, with some fans speculating that the latter could play Isaiah Bradley, the first black Captain America.
In the comics, Bradley was the product of secret experiments by the US government on African-Americans as they attempted to replicate the super soldier serum, a storyline inspired by the very real Tuskegee syphilis studies.
What is the Falcon/Winter Soldier TV series about?
In Avengers: Endgame, after the dust had settled on the climactic battle with Thanos and his goons, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) ventured back into the past to return the stolen Infinity Stones to their rightful place in time and space.
He then handed his shield to loyal friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), presumably passing on the mantle of Captain America too. But does he have what it takes to be America’s Ass?
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, so we should get an answer to that question (and many others).
As for Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), he’s no longer under the control of sinister outside forces and has even acquired a shiny new Vibranium arm during his time in Wakanda. Oh, and based on recently unveiled concept art poster, he’s had a haircut…
If he can get past the jealousy that his best pal completely overlooked him as a potential successor, then these two could make a brilliant crime-fighting duo.
Given the prominence of Captain America’s shield in the official logo, it seems likely that the series will explore the character’s legacy, and it could be that both Sam and Bucky will eye the position of Captain America.
“I think it’s time for Bucky to go out there and have an identity outside of the circumstances that we’ve met him through,” Stan said of his man out of time while attending a convention in Italy.
“So, I don’t know, he might do all kinds of things. He might even go on a date. I don’t know… I think it’s gonna be a lot of dealing with Anthony’s character.”
Could Sharon Carter become a new love interest for either superhero? And what will bring Zemo back to villainy? We’ll have to wait and see, but we do know which Marvel movie the new series will most resemble.
“What I loved about it was that, tonally, it was very much in the same world that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, which was one of my favourite experiences that I’ve ever had,” Stan said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
He added: “It was grounded and very much in the world as we know it. But, it’s also really jam-packed with a lot of massive, massive action scenes mixed with deep focus on character.”
Co-star Anthony Mackie has said that fans can expect a series comparable to the Marvel movies, in a conversation for Variety‘s Actors on Actors.
“We’re shooting it exactly like a movie,” he said. “Everybody who had worked on TV before was like, ‘I’ve never worked on a TV show like this.’ The way in which we were shooting, it feels exactly like we were shooting the movie cut up into the show. So instead of a two-hour movie, a six or eight-hour movie.”
Who is writing the Falcon/Winter Soldier TV series?
A couple of writers have been mentioned in connection with the new show. First off, Variety reported the involvement of Malcolm Spellman, who is best known for working on hit Fox series Empire.
The second name, revealed by The Wrap, is arguably the more intriguing of the two – Derek Kolstad, co-creator of the popular John Wick franchise starring Keanu Reeves, which is prepping a fourth instalment.