THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Episode 2 Review; "[This] Is The Marvel Cinematic Universe At Its Best "

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Episode 2 Review; "[This] Is The Marvel Cinematic Universe At Its Best "

Today's episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is a big step up from the premiere, with the dynamic between Sam and Bucky, and Wyatt Russell's John Walker, among the highlights. Here's our verdict...

There was nothing wrong with the series premiere of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but it felt more like a prologue than the show we'd been promised by the trailers (after all, Sam and Bucky didn't share so much as a single scene). Well, this second instalment - fittingly titled "The Star Spangled Man" - more than makes up for that, delivering a can't miss 45 minutes of television which bodes well for what's to come over the next four weeks. If you weren't fully invested before now, make no mistake about it: this episode does not disappoint. 

A vast improvement on an already strong opener sees us learn more about John Walker, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's new Captain America. While it may be inevitable that Sam will ultimately wield the shield, this Cap is more than just a stand-in, and Wyatt Russell is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting, intriguing additions to this shared world for some time. He's neither a one-note villain nor a stereotypical hero, and it feels like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will be as much about peeling back his layers as it will exploring the dynamic between the two leads. That's an absolute blast here (seriously, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are on fire), and Michael Kastelein's script is packed full of laugh out loud pieces of dialogue, but also plenty of strong character beats which singles this series out from anything Marvel Studios has done before. 

For example, one scene sees Sam and Bucky arguing in the street after a tense meeting with a big name comic book character. However, when a nearby police car pulls up to see what's going on, Sam is immediately identified as the aggressor and asked for his ID. If the series continues to explore ideas like that about race (which is more relevant now than ever before, especially after the events of the past year), then we could finally see the MCU embrace real life issues to both educate and make its stories more timely and relevant. 

In terms of action, director Kari Skogland once again impresses with a thrilling blockbuster-level outing for Sam and Bucky as they look to stop the Flag-Smashers. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier definitely feels like a Marvel Studios movie, and if the set pieces are this good at such an early stage in proceedings, we can only imagine what's heading our way in the weeks to come. The story is also moved forward nicely here, and if last week's cliffhanger didn't leave you counting down the days until the next episode, this one most certainly will. Throw in the introduction of some big names from the comic books, and it's becoming clear why Marvel Studios once hoped to launch its Disney+ shows with this one. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier looks set to be a tough act to follow, even after the highs of WandaVision

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is the Marvel Cinematic Universe at its best with this second episode. Michael Kastelein's script tackles timely issues, while making Wyatt Russell's John Walker a character we can't wait to see more of.

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