The beauty of a world like the MCU universe is that the number of stories that can be told is nearly endless. Over the last year or so, DisneyPlus has released four different series that extend the narrative beyond the ones that exist on the big screen. The list below is my ranking of the existing series.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as the trickster g-d turned hero. With Owen Wilson as a mid-level bureaucrat and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie/the Variant, the program takes one of Marvel’s most beloved and iconic characters in surprising directions.
WandaVision: A loving rip-off of the family sitcom over the decades, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned to the roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. An allegory of grief and loss, it speaks to how difficult it is to lose the ones we love. The highlight at least for me, was Kathryn Hahn as nosy neighbor/baddie Agatha Harkness. That is a character for the ages
What If…: This animated series takes the narrative into new directions, introducing new storylines and mixing characters in ways that do not fit into the big screen timeline. From a writing perspective, this program is completely unique and a lovely way to take this world to places where it had not been before.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Taking place after Avengers: Endgame, this is sort of a buddy comedy meets series with a not-so-subtle political message. Though it was did not quite hit the mark as other series did, it was still relatively engaging. The addition of Erin Kellyman’s character, who turns from baddie to hero was a nice twist that I happily did not see coming.
Warning: this post contains spoilers about the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the episode.
First impressions are just that, especially when it comes to movie or television reviews. Sometimes it takes repeated viewing for a movie or watching multiple episodes of a television show to change the reviewers mind.
I do have to admit that the narrative is a bit messy, but when it came together, it came together beautifully. What started out as an odd couple/buddy comedy/standard MCU fare turned into a partial treatise on the state of the world. Though Sam is known as The Falcon, he is not above dealing everyday racism.
My favorite character is Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). In my limited experience of this genre, most villains have one goal: to take over the world. They’re pretty cut and dry without room for subtlety. Depending on one’s point of view, Karli and her people are either terrorists or freedom fighters. This murky line has been drawn time and again throughout human history, forcing us to take sides, and determine who is good and who is bad. It is a generality that at best has created enmity and at worst, has led to murder and destruction.
I also appreciate that the character was changed to a woman (and a redhead, for obvious reasons ;)). There are still too many female characters that are boxed in by “traditional roles” and not given the room to be anything else.
It is the type of series that grows on you, which at the end of the day, is never a bad thing.
There comes a point in which a brand has to realize that not every IP needs multiple spinoffs. After the massive success of Endgame and WandaVision, the next logical step is to greenlight other offshoots with other characters from within the same universe. The problem is not every one of them is worthy of it’s predecessor. The problem with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that while it is entertaining, it is not as good as WandaVision.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.