Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan star as the respective heroes of the title. Both characters were best friends of Captain America (Chris Evans) in different time periods – Mackie’s Sam Wilson was chosen as his successor in Avengers: Endgame, and Stan’s Bucky Barnes was a Second World War army sergeant turned brainwashed super-soldier.
Taking place in the immediate aftermath of Captain America’s last stand in Endgame, the show explores what they did next: we meet a Wilson who is uncertain about his new responsibilities, while Barnes is off atoning for his past misdeeds.
At the beginning of the episode, Wilson decides to give the famous shield he inherited from Captain America to the Smithsonian Institution. However, the episode ended with the upsetting reveal that the government decides to give the shield to a “new Captain America”, played by Wyatt Russell.
Speaking about the plot point, head writer Malcolm Spellman told Entertainment Weekly: “The idea of whether or not a Black man could become Captain America just felt like a huge moment and a huge opportunity.”
Fans were not happy to see Sam being let down after he helped save the world from Thanos.
“On the behalf of all mcu viewers, we do not stan this man,” tweeted one person.
“SAM GAVE THE SHEILD TO HONOR STEVE’S LEGACY YOU B*****S HOW DARE YOU,” raged another.
In a three-star review of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for The Independent, Adam White wrote: “There is intrigue and action, but this latest MCU spin-off series struggles beneath the shadow of WandaVision.”
He added that the show will leave viewers “neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed”. “To steal a line from 10 Things I Hate About You,” he wrote, “it is the TV embodiment of ‘whelmed’ – a sturdy, functional and generally not-bad vehicle for a handful of the studio’s B-listers.”