*Spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier below*
Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has officially landed on Disney Plus, which centres on Captain America’s closest allies as they pick up the pieces after the chaotic events of Avengers: Endgame.
Director Kari Skogland is taking viewers through the first episode, discussing the show’s themes of race and trauma, and delving into the ending of the first episode to explain its significance and how it sets up the rest of the series.
In the opening scene of the action-packed series, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson recalls his conversation with friend Steve Rogers in which Steve, Captain America, hands over the mantle of his shield to Sam, the Falcon. Steve (voiced by Chris Evans) asks: “How does it feel?”
“Like it’s someone else’s,” Sam admits. “It isn’t,” Steve affirms. That isn’t enough to dispel Sam’s doubts or reassure him, and he solemnly packs the shield away, which he plans to return to the Defense Department at a ceremony paying tribute to Captain America.
However, the final scene in the episode shows Sam that the United States government don’t agree with his decision to retire the shield. Sam watches on TV as a spokesman for the Defense Department (Alphie Hyroth) confirms a new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) instead. Speaking about that scene, Skogland said it was crucial that the government official introduced the new Captain America using “nationalistic language”: “We need heroes who are relatable; we need heroes who are from this planet,” Skogland paraphrased as she explained the significance of the language to Variety.
“They had gone in, and obviously done exactly what Sam was hoping that they wouldn’t,” Skogland said. “The shield belongs to Steve. It belongs to that time.”
Sam thinks the government’s decision is wrong, and will prompt him to rethink his original position.
“What does it represent? What is its relevance?” Skogland continued. “We were always telling a racially charged exploration of what it was for a Black man to pick up the shield.”
When Walker’s Captain America makes his debut, with his face obscured behind his mask, he arrives to a rapturous applause from the crowd while wielding the shield, before closing in for a cheeky wink at the camera.
“I wanted to hero-ise,” Skogland said of Walker’s face remaining behind his mask. “Lots of low angles and and sneaky imagery, so that you just about get him – you don’t quite get him. You’re trying to find out, Who is this guy?“
Ultimately, the new Captain America will bring the characters together, with Skogland adding: “Sam and Bucky will have a really interesting interaction as they go through their adventure about just that – what the shield means to each one of them for different reasons.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney Plus now. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Take a look at the rest of our Sci-fi and Fantasy coverage, or check out what else is on with our TV Guide.