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‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ setting up globetrotting adventure

Arts & Entertainment

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Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are two guys who find themselves out of place in the new series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

Ordinarily, that would be the setup for some introspective psychodrama. But this is a Marvel show and the one thing you can be sure of with a Marvel show is that there’s gonna be a lot of action and adventure, maybe even a few laughs. Because while most things from Marvel Studios aren’t very deep, they’re also usually not boring.

In fact, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” opens with a cool action scene that involves skydiving guys in wingsuits, helicopters and lots of explosions. After things settle down, we learn that Sam is working with the military and, along with his contact, Torres (Danny Ramirez), tracking a mysterious organization called the Flag Smashers.

Sam is also trying to piece together his life post-”Endgame” and is having family drama. Meanwhile, Bucky is drifting, looking for a purpose and trying to make amends for misdeeds he committed as Winter Soldier and the murder of a friend’s son is weighing on him. He’s searching for what he’s meant to be doing just like Sam.

It’s hard not to compare “Falcon and Winter Soldier” to the recently wrapped-up “WandaVision.” Both are centered on a duo of characters who were kind of Junior Varisty-level characters so far in the movies of the Marvel Cinematic. Both shows flesh out these characters and give us more of a window into who they are and what issues they deal with.

The biggest difference is that while “WandaVision” was more of a supernatural mystery romance with some serious David Lynchian vibes, “Falcon and Winter Soldier” is more grounded on the everyday Marvel world and feels more like a spy thriller. While Marvel fare is usually more enjoyable for me the weirder it gets (When am I getting Fin Fang Foom?), there was enough of a hook here to keep me interested, at least for another week.

What really is going to make or break this series is the characters and how well the actors pull them off. So far, so good. Mackie is charismatic as Sam, with a few moments in the show where he shows nice colors of frustration and sadness.

Stan is the highlight of the show so far. He’s desperate to fix his past wrongs and he seems to be going through some survivor’s guilt. There’s a wonderful little scene where he plays battleship with sushi shop employee Leah (Miki Ishikawa) and she asks about his family. It hits you that this guy’s lost almost everyone he’s ever known or cared about and we get to react to that realization at the same as it’s washing over Leah. It’s like we all get to have the same moment in real-time. Good stuff.

Visually, “Falcon and Winter Soldier” looks like the usual movies usually look. It’s our world with some cool sci-fi comic book flourishes. The camera work during the action scenes does the job. It conveys the information you need to know without being too overwrought or distracting viewers from the story. The visuals are nothing to brag about, but they serve their purpose.

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” just started so expect a lot of MCU-altering revelations as things roll forward. As for this pilot episode, it’s got some cool action, nice character moments and just enough intrigue to bring you back next week.

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is available now to stream on Disney+. New episodes will premiere each Friday for the next six weeks.

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