WandaVision was all about grief as its superhero stars processed their loss and sadness after the earth-shattering events of Avengers: Endgame. But The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is supposed to be a buddy comedy action-adventure.
So why is everyone still so sad?
Warning! Very light spoilers ahead for Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Avengers: Endgame
In Episode 1 of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which premieres March 19 on Disney+, we pick up with Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) as they both attempt to process the recent events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Bucky is finally a free man attempting to relieve some of his guilt after decades of cold-blooded murder. Sam rejects Captain America’s offer to wield the shield (at least for now) and instead heads home to Louisiana where his sister and her sons have struggled to get by during the Blip.
Meanwhile, a new organization called FlagSmasher is stirring up trouble in a world that’s still short a few key Avengers. This group wants to go back to the way things were after Thanos snapped away with half of all life. They want a world without borders — and lots of chaos.
Don’t get me wrong, these are interesting topics for a TV show. It’s fascinating to consider that some people might have actually preferred the dystopian chaos that followed Thanos’ Snap. And when Falcon gets rejected for a loan at the bank because he hasn’t worked in five years (even after taking a selfie with the loan officer!) it reveals a new wrinkle on the many ways the Blip disrupted life in the MCU for everyday folks and superheroes alike.
But at a certain point, the MCU needs to move on. Every character deserves a chance to deal with their grief, but no one is asking for a dozen variations on WandaVision, right?
WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier
It wasn’t Marvel’s original plan, but WandaVision was actually the perfect story to kick off Marvel’s new era. Not only does it take place mere days after Avengers: Endgame (Falcon and the Winter Soldier is reportedly set six months later), but the entire series was an exploration of what going through an event like Endgame would do to a person.
Wanda has been through a lot. She killed her boyfriend, watched him die again, got dusted, came back, and fought a version of Thanos who didn’t even recognize her. So it makes sense that we’d get an entire show about the Scarlet Witch processing that pain while supporting characters debated which member of the Avengers had the best chance of beating Thanos in a one-on-one fight.
But WandaVision is over, and while Falcon and the Winter Soldier both have plenty of grief of their own, it’s nothing compared to Wanda’s. Marvel got away with this trick once, but if Falcon and the Winter Soldier also spends an entire TV season relitigating Endgame we’re going to have a problem.
The strength of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been its interconnectedness. You had to watch The Avengers to understand why Tony Stark was depressed in Iron Man 3, and you had to watch all the Thor movies to really understand why the God of Thunder was such a bummer in Endgame.
But as Marvel kicks off a bold new era (the studio calls it Phase 4, but Saga #2 may be more appropriate), it’s time to cut loose some of those interconnected threads. Otherwise, the MCU will never be anything more than a bunch of sad superheroes waiting for the next big bad and unpacking the fallout.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres March 19 on Disney+.