The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review

Marvel is keeping it going with a second live action show connected to the movies. Following up on WandaVision this one is more of a down to Earth story with two characters still trying to move on after Cap seemingly died or at the very least is super old right now. Personally I’m in the “he’s dead” camp myself but you never know when he might pop out to mess with everyone. This one’s a good show and I would put it above the WandaVision show. As it all takes place in the modern day you can expect a lot of setup for future events.

The show starts with showing us where the two characters are at. Falcon is in a rough spot financially since being an Avenger and a top ranking government agent doesn’t pay very well. (I still have major issues believing this by the way. There’s absolutely no way the government could let this happen. Even without Tony there should be some way he should have a lot of money right now since being a free lance government worker pays really well and with the Avengers press and such that should add up.) He and his sister may even have to sell their boat which is causing a lot of tension between them. Surely Falcon can find a way to get past this but it’s going to be difficult.

Meanwhile the Winter Soldier is trying to deal with his guilt of murdering so many people back when he was a Hydra agent. He is going to mandatory counseling to deal with this and has been working as a vigilante to try and commit a lot of good deeds to overwhelm the negative ones. It hasn’t stopped his nightmares though and he needs something big to take his mind off of things.

Well, they’re in luck. A terrorist organization known as the Flag Smashers have popped up. They go around burning buildings and destroying property to realize their goal of “One People One World” Effectively, they are saying that the world was better during the 5 years when everyone was blinked out of existence and they want everyone to go back to that time. They are led by Karli, a super soldier who is willing to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished. Sam and Bucky are going to need to unite forces to stop her.

Right off the bat it was nice to see some pseudo Avengers action here. One of the highlight battles was definitely when they engage the Flagsmashers on the train and get some assistance from the new Captain America, John Walker and his partner. With 4 on 4 effectively you figure the heroes would win but they still get rolled up like a burrito. It just goes to show that they are still lacking that power hitter to win the day but it was a well balanced fight that went back and forth.

All of the battle scenes here are on point. There’s a lot of good choreography throughout. That said, Falcon and John feel incredibly outmatched here since they are normal humans dealing with super soldiers. They should be getting rolled every time they try to fight because the gap is just too huge at this point. Especially as in later films we’ve seen more of what the super soldier serum could really do for Cap. It’s not a level of power that you can easily match.

The show only lasts for 6 episodes but it gets to accomplish a whole lot within that time such as plot setups for the future and different developments that will be relevant to the films coming up. One character who was fleshed out really well here was John. I rather liked the guy and thought that Sam and Bucky were way too harsh on the guy. He really was just trying to help initially but all they had to offer him were insults and a bad attitude. You can see where his character arc is going from there from the start though.

It’s a classic Ironwood kind of path although handled with a lot more subtlety. By the end you can’t even say John is fully evil or anything. The fact that his emotions run away with him is incredibly dangerous though so he’s likely going to end up more like Punisher than the actual Captain America. Still, I look forward to seeing more of him. He’s a versatile fighter who was usually fighting against bad odds and still did well.

His 2 on 1 fight against the other heroes was impressive, so impressive that you could make the case he would have beaten either one of them 1 on 1. That would scale him to possibly being even a little stronger than Steve who was initially getting overpowered by Bucky at times although I suppose since then he had surpassed him. John does have a whole lot of combat experience though so it makes sense. To him the whole thing must feel unfair as two vigilantes are trying to take away the shield he got from the government. Mix that in with the other events from that day and he had a really rough time of it.

On the government crowd we also have Sharon who finally gets to appear in the universe again after being gone for a long while. She’s a fun character and definitely doesn’t seem to have an issue with murdering her opponents though. She has managed to survive for a long while on her own which has definitely had an effect on how she sees things. Sharon will be an interesting character to keep an eye on.

Zemo also gets a big role here. Yes, I do think the heroes busting him free as part of the plan was an extremely risky plan that could have easily backfired. I disagreed with it from the start mainly because of how many innocent people would and probably die die during the escape. It’s glossed over but they had to free a ton of prisoners to keep the guards busy and we see a lot of guards getting knocked out during the chaos. Considering that all of these villains were incredibly dangerous like Zemo, I doubt they would be taking prisoners.

So the benefits didn’t outweigh the dangers there. At that point you could easily be rooting against the heroes for the rest of the show and I wouldn’t blame you. It was pretty shocking how dubious a decision that was. Zemo’s a fun guy though. He’s certainly as villainous as ever but he does agree that the Flagsmashers are a big concern since the guy really doesn’t like the super soldier serum. He’ll be an ally at least for a little while but he’s not someone you can turn your back on.

Joaquin is Falcon’s main army contact and the guy does pretty well for himself. He certainly isn’t someone who is ready to fight with a bunch of super soldiers but he does well when needed and finds out a lot of info. Then there’s Falcon’s sister who is fun enough. She helps to keep him grounded and is doing what she can to stay afloat.

Now let’s look at the two main characters and the main villain. Falcon leads the title card so as you can imagine he is effectively the main character here. A big part of the story is his character development from giving away the shield to ultimately deciding to take on the mantle. You’ve probably seen certain shots from the final episode between the film announcement and the big deal it got but he will certainly be entering a new status quo going forward.

I would like for Falcon to get a super soldier serum of his own just because I don’t think it’s possible to compete for long without powers but maybe that is coming up. He’s a good character here and there’s a lot of nice banter with Bucky. Falcon does fumble the ball towards the end though with his speech about how Karli wasn’t a terrorist. You can understand the idea behind this and not rushing to conclusions, but he shouldn’t have used her as an example.

Let’s face facts here, she blew up several buildings that still had innocents inside, she was going to blow up a bus of government officials to send a message and she was just getting started. She was getting more and more extreme throughout the show so calling her a terrorist is fair. His main comeback seemed to be that she had a good message but your intentions and goals don’t matter when you cross a certain line.

After all, there are tons of villains who had goals that people may even agree with but the methods are what nullify them. The universe is over populated so you may agree with Thanos on reducing it, just not by destroying people. Adam Taurus fought to help give the Faunus equal rights which everyone agreed with but he wanted to do that by murdering people so it voided the cause. It’s the same thing with Karli. Maybe they can think of a way to make the world better but it doesn’t change the fact that she and her Flagsmashers were absolutely 100% terrorists.

So I think Falcon got caught up in his feelings a bit there with a character who had just threatened to murder his sister an episode ago but otherwise he was a fun lead. It’ll be good to see how he handles the mantle in the next season. Meanwhile Bucky is definitely the more down to Earth guy in the group. I would say it seems like he was nerfed quite a bit to make sure he wouldn’t just outshine the rest of the cast though. Based on how well he fought Captain America he should absolutely be dominating these Flagsmashers. Unless it’s 4 to 1 or something he just has way better combat experience and his arm is on point. There’s a 1 on 1 fight where it’s fairly even near the end and I feel like Bucky should waste the guy.

On a personality level though Bucky is finally getting past his old feelings of guilt so I think we’ll see a more confident version of him if we get a season 2. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Bucky fan in just about any incarnation but he’s not bad here. At least I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the mind control and such anymore. Now he works pretty well as an anti-hero and the banter with him and Falcon is always a positive. His super rushed romance that doesn’t go anywhere could have been skipped though.

Finally we have Karli. In case you couldn’t guess, I was not a big fan of hers. In part it’s because I don’t exactly see her group having any tangible ways to make the world a better place. Okay, she’s upset that half the world came back and destroyed the world unity that people had. Since she can’t destroy half of the population to bring things back to normal (Although I wonder if that was the plan pre-Covid. If it was, then that changes everything) how does she propose the world make this situation work? She doesn’t offer any solutions throughout the whole show.

Presumably she tried peaceful options earlier based on her dialogue but we never even learn what her proposal is. She always goes right to burning buildings and beating people up so there isn’t even any kind of agenda that you can get behind. Ultimately that’s why I can’t get behind Karli because her group didn’t seem to even have a tangible goal.

There’s also a guest star that shows up here but I won’t go into that here as it’s probably the first guest star from one of these shows that I didn’t even know was in it. So that was a nice surprise and her role is pretty good. She gets to show off her skills rather quickly. Including cameos and guest appearances like this also helps to cement this as something really in the universe which is always nice to see.

As always Marvel delivers with a lot of impressive effects here. The show does really feel like you’re watching an extended movie which is always impressive. TV Shows have certainly come a very long way from how they used to be. It probably helps that this is a mini series. I also like how the events seem really important to the movies. With a show like Agents of Shield no matter how many times they may say it was canon or the show would have references, you suspected that nothing big would ever happen because the execs would worry that people wouldn’t watch it. Sure enough, Shield is basically not cannon to the extent that nothing there mattered if you just watch the movies. While the movies could somehow back out of the events for WandaVision and this show, I find that to be 99% unlikely. There just seems like no way it would be possible. The events here are massive which is nice to see.

Overall, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a pretty good show. We have a solid cast of characters and a lot of interesting plots going on. I do think the two heroes did really overstep their boundaries as heroes and acted like vigilantes quite a bit. Not a problem as I rather enjoy vigilantes but it’s never really portrayed that way which is odd. You’d think they would be full fugitives by the end of the film no matter what results they got. I particularly enjoyed John Walker’s character arc as he tried to use the mantle well and be the best hero he could be. Whenever I see him swinging Cap’s shield around I do wonder how people don’t straight up get murdered though. Never forget that the shield is made up of Vibranium. You feel like a single shot would utterly shatter someone. I think this show has a better chance of getting a season 2 compared to WandaVision but at the same time the odds are still small since this will probably continue on into the movies. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

Sharon Carter vs Peggy Carter

Suggested by Sonic Both of these fighters are very evenly matched. They both became Captain America with the complete super soldier serum in different timelines and have trained with and against Captain America. Both of them also had a lot of close quarter combat training over the years as well before getting these abilities. It’s a bit of a toss up but I would ultimately go with Peggy. She’s just had better moments in her America form and has had more time to develop her abilities. Peggy Carter wins.

Sharon Carter vs Hellboy

Suggested by Anonymous It’s time for Sharon to make her debut on the blog. In one alternate reality she ended up taking on the mantle of Captain America. She is already an excellent hand to hand fighter so this really makes her a foe that would be dangerous to tangle with. That being said, I don’t see her being powerful enough to stop Hellboy here. Lets not forget that Hellboy has super strength of his own and impressive durability feats. Sharon just needs more abilities in order to stop him and she doesn’t have those yet. Hellboy wins.

Secret Avengers Volume 1 Mission To Mars Review

It is time to start another Avenger series! The Secret Avengers has always been an interesting concept. They strike from the shadows instead of taking on big threats in the spotlight. This would be impossible to an extent if no other heroes were around, but since there are numerous fighters ready to defend the world, Captain America can afford to lead this team in the shadows. Of course, it is much easier to cross the line and start to become the villains while in the shadows so Captain America will have to make sure that he has what it takes to hold onto his integrity.

The Secret Avengers have located a mysterious crown that they stole from an evil organization and find out that it has something to do with the Planet Mars. Captain America sends Nova to scout ahead, but the cosmic hero disappears. The Secret Avengers must now head outside of their element so that they can find their ally. Of course, if something could actually defeat the mighty Nova, what chance does Captain America have of victory!? This could be their most dangerous mission yet!

The roster for the Secret Avengers is fairly unique and the team has got a good balance. Captain America brings his experience to the table and he was always a great leader for the Avengers. This portrayal of him shows that he is always willing to risk his life for a teammate and he gives his allies their due respect unlike some of the other Avengers. He’s a little out of his league against the cosmic threats, but something helps to even the playing field for the climax.

Black Widow makes perfect sense for the team since she is all about espionage. She doesn’t get to fight all that much aside from the intro scene because facing a planet buster is not really her style. Widow’s style of completing a mission certainly contrasts with Valkyrie. I certainly prefer the Asgardian and she would be a much more powerful ally. Black Widow doesn’t look bad though and she helps out a lot more than the next member.

Beast managed to make it onto the team and that’s too bad. I’m not a Beast fan and he is one of my least favorite X-Men members. He’s joined the Avengers on a few occasions as well. He may be smart, but that’s really all that he brings to the table. He helps the team find out about the crown and he means well, but I’ve seen the Beast make too many questionable decisions in the comics and the films. He’s not an ally that I would trust when the chips are down.

Valkyrie is the team’s heavy hitter. She is certainly not as strong as some of the other previous power houses like Thor and Hulk, but this is a team that is not meant to tackle many super threats so it may be fitting. She is still very powerful and could easily beat the rest of the team, but I would consider her closer to Thing level than the two that I previously mentioned. Valkyrie is a fighter with honor and her personality has always been a good one. She’s easily one of the best members on the team.

Next up, we have War Machine! He doesn’t get a chance to do much, but he has a lot of experience like Captain America. We’ve seen the War Machine suit many times in the past so we know what to expect from it at this point. He can hold his own in a fight. Unfortunately, War Machine really doesn’t like the new Ant-Man and makes sure to bring it up whenever possible. Calling the young hero a “kid” is just plain insulting and it certainly won’t make you gain any respect for the guy. Moon Knight is also around, but he hasn’t done anything yet. He’s the mysterious figure of the group and I assume that he has something up his sleeve. I definitely wouldn’t trust him as he seems to have an agenda and isn’t typically a team player. I guess we will just have to wait and see with him.

Finally, we have the Ant-Man. This isn’t Hank Pym or Scott Lang, but a guy named Eric. He has an intriguing history and it seems like he is constantly jumping from hero to villain and vice versa. Obviously, War Machine has a reason to not trust him so I won’t be too hard on the guy. Eric does actually make a questionable call at the end as he blows up a few agents from the shadow organization. They had been heading to Mars to blow it up, but Eric forced them to speed up the process. I think that he certainly should not have gone for the kill so quickly. None of the other characters really noticed that this happened so we haven’t dealt with any repercussions. Still, this could be the beginning of a defection by Eric.

Sharon Carter is essentially the director of the team. Cap’s the leader, but she helps to coordinate everyone from the shadows and she has a subplot where she tries to recover one of the mysterious crowns. She seems like a tough individual and I’m glad that she didn’t wait for backup when she headed for the crown. That being said, she’ll have to work hard to back up her tough talk as she was defeated in a single blow during her first fight. That’s definitely not the right way to earn hype and respect from the readers.

Nova is a member who’s not always around. You can essentially say that he’s on stand by. He’s a clear powerhouse so it’s good to have him ready, but he doesn’t look good here. He is essentially mind controlled for the entire volume, which isn’t cool. I don’t think that he would be taken over so easily or lose control of his mind like that. This is Nova that we’re talking about, not some new recruit who is just joining the superhero game! Ah well, I haven’t seen Richard Rider in a while so that was neat. His abilities looked good, but he still should have looked a lot better.

Nick Fury gets a big role in the final comic as we learn that he actually hadn’t been around during the first issues. We have been dealing with a clone of him who is now called Max. Max still has his heroic personality in theory so I’m assuming that he is simply being duped. He shouldn’t be much of a threat to the Avengers, but with his knowledge I suppose that he can certainly complicate matters.

Secret Avengers ended up being a fun read as the plot was very interesting. This lineup of Avengers is a good one and I look forward to seeing where their adventures take them next. This volume didn’t have much of a villain although I suppose that you could call the mind controlled Nova the main antagonist. We still did get some nice fight scenes and the robot that shows up to fight Nova was cool. He lost in a quick hit so that certainly didn’t last long, but the important thing is that he tried.

The art also works well for this collection. The fight scenes really stand out and the panel of Valkyrie fighting Nova with a big energy clash was particularly good. The energy effects really stand out compared to the rest of the comic since it is not very bright. While the comic does use darker colors, it still looks very streamlined and works. The characters aren’t as detailed as X-Sanction, but few comics are up to that level of detail without overdoing it. As it stands, the comic did a good job.

The most interesting thing to follow will be if the Avengers can stay true to themselves or not. Some members like the Beast and Black Widow likely wouldn’t hesitate to cross the line or make a shady decision. Likewise, War Machine would likely not mind for the government and Ant Man was a criminal. Valkyrie likely destroyed many while on Asgard and Captain America can be super heroic one minute and a criminal the next. Moon Knight’s a wild card in all of this. I’m hoping that the team remembers that they are super heroes and do the right thing. If not, hopefully we get a fight between the Secret Avengers and the real ones.

Overall, The Secret Avengers is a team that you don’t want to mess with and they should go far. The art is good and the writing is on point, which results in a fun comic book. This collection brings 5 issues instead of 4 so it will be slightly longer than the average one, which is typically a good thing. It seems like Nova won’t be appearing too often, but I hope that he gets to appear in a better role in the near future. I assume that the Nick Fury LMD will be the main plot so we will see how he holds up against a team of superheroes. I certainly recommend this comic and especially if you’re the kind of person who liked reading comics where the superheroes are making tactical decisions and not simply beating one on another because the fate of the world is at stake. Avengers has another winner now!

Overall 7/10