In preparation for the debut of Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, Kelley Carter from ESPN sat down with the cast and crew for insight and questions related to the production. In attendance were Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, director Kari Skogland, head writer Malcolm Spellman, and Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Steve Rogers, presumed dead to the world but secretly retired after living out his life with Peggy Carter, has handed over the shield and Captain America mantle to Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Mackie).
Feeling unequal to the title, Sam chooses to give the shield to the Smithsonian and make it part of the Captain America exhibit. Sam continues to participate in military missions and do his duty for the country.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (Stan) is struggling to come to terms with decades of being an assassin for Hydra. After his rehabilitation in Wakanda and recent pardon by the government for his crimes, he attends therapy sessions in an effort to move on from his dark past. But his previous actions continue to gnaw at his conscience as he tries to live a normal life.
These two characters have been through a lot together, and not always positive. Sam has had to fight against Bucky when he was still the Winter Soldier, but also (begrudgingly) fought with him as part of Team Cap in Civil War. The link between these two characters was always Steve, and with him now gone, we get the opportunity to see a new relationship develop and also learn a bit more about them individually.
Originally intended to be released in late summer 2020, the series was delayed due to the pandemic. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige mentioned the fact that it was actually their first project before WandaVision started filming, which posed new personal challenges: “It’s really meant to prove…that just because it’s on TV, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be as big…as a movie. This first episode…really starts off with a bang. If we’re going to do a series with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, then we need to start off with the best possible action.”
In discussing how to approach the “buddy-cop” dynamic of the show, writer Malcolm Spellman found the opportunity to be a blessing: “What we loved about them is the range tonally; you can go from as gritty as 48 Hours to as comedic as Rush Hour. But in between, there’s sort of like that first Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, and what we liked about it was, it allows it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic. But also allows the broader creative to…take on real issues or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y, it’s a very durable form of storytelling.”
In talking about some of the more serious tones like PTSD, Sebastian Stan discusses the commonality between both main characters: “The whole subject of PTSD and the experience that they both share as soldiers, as men who have served, is one of the things that brings them together and there’s sort of a bit of an honor code between them. Even though they come from different…ideas or opinions about things, there’s mutual respect. And as everybody knows PTSD is…something that one has to continue to grow with and to become better at dealing with. Obviously, it’s a major part of our show and it grounds both of these characters in very realistic ways.”
On the differences between making a 2-hour film vs a 6-hour series, director Kari Skogland highlights the breathing room she was afforded: “It’s a lot more work….you know what is terrific I’ve been calling the movies…the snack and this is like the meal. You really can get involved with the characters in a way in 6 hours that you’re just not able to in a film, particularly because the films are often very…high octane already and they’re immersed in some world-saving event. So it’s very hard to…go off on a little tangent with the character. But on a series, you’re able to meander a little bit and we’re able to get inside the lives of our characters.”
In regards to stunt work on the show vs the movies, Anthony Mackie explains new ways they looked at fighting: “The great thing about what we were able to do with this was nothing was jeopardized or watered down. The same stunt guys we work with on the films are the same guys who choreographed and did all of our stunts on the show. Because of that, the stunts are really amazing. Taking the idea of weaponry away so it’s more hand-to-hand combat, it’s more physical, it’s more assertive. It’s more of us utilizing our strengths instead of something else.”
All in all, the cast and crew are excited for the opportunity to dive deeper into these characters. From learning more personal backstory of Sam Wilson to seeing Bucky Barnes adjusting to a new life, to some of the repercussions of Endgame and the effects it had on everyday people. Stay tuned for our full review of the first episode.
Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts March 19th, only on Disney+.