‘The Falcon and the Winter Solider’ Isn’t What Fans Were Expecting — It’s Even Better

The Marvel universe is big enough to have its own subset of genres that pique the interest of different fans’ interest. Some like the fantastic nature of Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and far-out metafiction like WandaVision. Others, however, want more grounded action, even within the realm of superheroes. For that crowd, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is just the show for them.

A shift in tone

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Every Marvel property is bound to polarize some, but while WandaVision had a healthy dose of passionate followers, some thought that it led the MCU off the rails by getting too bizarre. As such, the latest MCU series offered them something to sink their teeth into. Reddit user u/Darksol503 saw this as a refreshing return to form. 

“I’m just floored at not only the writing, the action, and the incredible acting from our main Avengers, but the surprise integration of actual contemporary/historical issues and problems is such a nice way to develop Sam as the (eventual) Capt. and (maybe an actual transformation to?) Bucky as White Wolf. This show has [vibed] so damn well in ways that WandaVision didn’t, and I’m loving we are been shown just how versatile this episodic release of the MCU can truly be,” they wrote about the experience,” they wrote on the site. 

Many others agreed. While every Marvel property has taken on a life of its own, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has taken the MCU back to its more grounded roots. Yes, there are super-soldier serums and 100-year-old action heroes, but the series gives a 2021 tint to the type of action fans expected in 2008 when Iron Man kicked off the MCU. 

Catering to every audience

Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie | Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

While it’s easy to applaud the changes – many of them worthy of such praise – one could argue that Marvel briefly lost the tone and style of Marvel movies’ original slate in all the shuffle. Digital Spy notes this history of genre exploration in an article.  Fans like this show that there is still an audience who doesn’t want them veering too far into metacommentary and science fiction. Some want action akin to the films that made them fall in love with the MCU while feeling true to the current form. 

Part of the universe’s strength in recent memory is due to the fact that they became less dependent on the formula that had each hero fight a shining light in the sky and let each project take on a life of its own. Whether it holds the military themes of Iron Man or the Star Trek vision of Guardians, every new property has a story to tell. This means that projects such as Falcon stand out. 

If the upcoming slate of movies tells us anything, however, it’s that the MCU is going back to the type of grounded entertainment while building onto characters who have not yet experienced the limelight. 

What’s next after ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’? 

Rotten Tomatoes recently showed all the ways that Marvel has an eclectic group of upcoming titles in the future. Fans of the grounded, less superpower-heavy takes on the franchise like Falcon and the Winter Soldier can look forward to Armor WarsBlack Widow, and other action franchises that explore the roots of the MCU’s more grounded origin story. However, fans of the fantastic have nothing to worry about, either. 

From Shang-Chi to The Eternals and the upcoming Loki series. Marvel is covering all the bases as it veers toward the future of the cinematic universe. Endgame was, in many ways, the beginning of a new era that only got bigger after the pandemic put the entire universe into a year-long hold. However, by moving toward the future, Feige and company are taking risks and returning to the roots while maintaining the type of awe and support that helped make the first films memorable 13 years ago.