‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: How ‘Rush Hour’ and David Lean Influenced the Marvel Disney+ Series

Marvel fans knew that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was going to be action-packed. It’s really a continuation of the Captain America and Avengers films. Every MCU project has a certain consistency that fits together. However, each one also has a distinct flavor, like Black Panther or Thor: Ragnarok. Fans may be surprised to learn that Rush Hour and David Lean movies were inspirations to the latest Disney+ show.

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier'
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ | Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Head writer Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland described the influences on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier at a Zoom press conference. New episodes premiere Fridays on Disney+.

How ‘Rush Hour’ influenced ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’

Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are hardly the first mismatched partners in movie and television history. Usually in movies, partners are cops like Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour.

Rush Hour stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan both put their hands up
L-R: Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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“The buddy cop or the buddy-two-hander genre, what we loved about them is the range tonally,” Spellman said. “You can go from as gritty as gritty as 48 Hrs. to as comedic as Rush Hour. But, in between there is sort of like that first Lethal Weapon and that first Bad Boys. What we liked about it was it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, but also allows the broader creative, if you need to take on real issue or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y. It’s a very, very durable form of storytelling.”

How David Lean influenced ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’

David Lean directed epics like Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge Over the River Kwai. It’s a bit more of a stretch between those films and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in Marvel’s ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.’ | Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

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“I approached [The Falcon and the Winter Soldier] like a film,’ Skogland said. “Malcolm and I did a lot of looking at movies that were in our paradigm. We have a buddy-cop kind of relationship going on, so we looked at some of those. I look at a lot of different influences to sort of help me put it into a box. I looked as crazy as David Lean or even Midnight Cowboy.

Epic doesn’t always mean action

You’ll have to watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to see how Midnight Cowboy relates. Skogland said it was those films’ focus on characters that helped her direct the Marvel show.

I really go very wide and then try to put it in a pot and stir it and come up with something that is uniquely signature for our look. It was important, I think, that we respected that we were going to be into peoples’ perspective. And so, we really had to go in deep character and be able to sustain that.  So, it was also looking at how to do that, the camera, the nature of even where we put focal planes, how we see Bucky while he’s in therapy.  All the different ways that we could be more intimate with these characters, um, so that we get to know them.

Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier press conference, 3/14/21