It has been a year since the Infinity Saga came to an end during the three-hour movie Avengers: Endgame, and yet the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues on, and not just on the big screen. Some of our favorite Avengers are heading to the small screen for limited series on the streaming service Disney+ as part of Phase Four of the MCU.
The first series coming our way will be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which finds Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their fan-favorite roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, respectively. As is the case with everything Marvel related, details surrounding the series are still pretty scarce, but here's everything we know so far.
It's scheduled to debut in August, but that might not happen now. The six-episode limited series began filming Nov. 4, 2019 (Stan and Mackie took over the Marvel Studios Instagram account to announce that production on the limited series had begun) and was scheduled to be debut on Disney+ in August 2020. However, in early March, production was halted in Prague as a result of the spread of COVID-19, making the show one of the first to shut down production amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video posted to YouTube for Muscle & Fitness on March 25, Stan revealed that he doesn't know when production will begin again. "It's not really at the forefront of my mind. You know, we were lucky to get far enough. We haven't finished. The plan is to go back whenever we can, whenever that might be, to finish. Whenever we can turn this thing around and people can get back together, we can pick back up, but I just don't know at this point."
It is the first of several Marvel Studios series coming to Disney+. On March 14, production was also halted on WandaVision (scheduled for December) and Loki (spring 2021), but it's unclear if they will hit their scheduled premiere dates now. Hawkeye, which wasn't scheduled to debut until fall 2021, had not yet begun filming. It's unclear how, if at all, the coronavirus has affected Marvel's other Disney+ shows, which include the animated series What If...?, which is scheduled to debut in summer 2021, as well as Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight.
Multiple characters are coming back. We knew there was a reason Daniel Bruhl's Zemo lived at the end of Civil War, and during Marvel's panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed it's because he's returning to stir up trouble for Cap's best buds. Feige later announced, at the D23 Expo in Aug. 2019, that Emily VanCamp is also returning to play Peggy's niece, Sharon Carter.
John Walker will be played by Wyatt Russell. In the comics, John Walker is (currently) known as U.S. Agent, but before that, he also was known as Super-Patriot, who openly opposed Captain America — the OG Captain America, Steve Rogers. It'll be interesting to see if that's still the case, considering that the mantel has now been passed off to Sam.
More recruits have joined. In December 2019, Deadline reported that Now Apocalypse's Desmond Chiam and The Terror's Miki Ishikawa joined the cast in unknown roles. In February, Deadline also reported that Carl Lumbly, who has appeared in a number of superhero projects over the course of his career, has reportedly also been cast. Unfortunately, his role is being kept under wraps for now.
We have the first footage. Disney+ released the first footage of The Falcon and The Winter Solider during a Super Bowl promo, which you can see below. Sam is seen practicing throwing the Captain America shield around, while Bucky looks predictably broody.
The plot will deal with the return of the Super Soldier program. More extensive footage was shown to investors during a meeting in March, and thanks to ComicBook.com, we now know a bit more about the plot of the series as a result. Apparently, someone is attempting to restart the Super Soldier program, and Bucky has recruited Zemo to help stop it because although they are not friends, they shared a mutual friend in Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), and they need to help each other.
Additional scenes shown to investors included a rally with an Americana theme and an announcer introducing the new Captain America, though the figure was in silhouette (John Walker, perhaps?), and an action-packed montage of some of the show's action scenes and battles. The montage also featured Zemo fighting in his Marvel Comics mask.
Sam is going to be struggling with the metaphorical weight of the shield. When Steve handed over his iconic shield to Sam at the end of Endgame, he was passing on a lot more than just a piece of vibranium, and that's going to be explored in the show, said Sebastian Stan. "Sam, to me, was always the clear man to take on that mantle for numerous reasons, which also comes with so much more baggage that's going to be explored in the show. I guess you'll have to tune into Disney+ to find out why," he told The Hollywood Reporter in April.
The series is being compared to Lethal Weapon. Fans have been campaigning for the series to be a buddy comedy after seeing the great dynamic between Sam and Bucky in Captain America: Civil War, and it sounds like they might get their wish. Head writer Malcolm Spellman told TV Guide at Disney's D23 Expo that he'd compare the tone of the show to the first Lethal Weapon movie. He then went on to also reference Bad Boys, 48 Hrs., and even Beverly Hills Cop. "All those great two-handers, we literally posted them up on the wall. They all come into a funnel, and probably Lethal Weapon is the closest," Spellman said.
It will also have a similar tone to The Winter Soldier. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in April, Stan compared the series to the second Captain America film, which is regarded as one of the very best of the MCU. "Tonally, it was very much in the same world that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, which was one of my favorite experiences that I've ever had, period. So, in a sense, it was grounded and very much in the world as we know it. But, it's also really jam-packed with a lot of massive, massive action scenes mixed with deep focus on character," he explained.
"That's what's really exciting about this," he continued. "We're getting to keep it in the world of the movies, so it's recognizable that way, but at the same time, these characters are getting so much more mileage for all of us to explore them. We can put them in situations that we've never been able to put them in before because you now have six hours as opposed to two. It's always a discovery."
Sam and Bucky's relationship is still evolving. "They've got lots to do together," director Kari Skogland told TV Guide at D23 while teasing what Sam and Bucky's friendship will be like in the show. "After Endgame, you can imagine they have to go on a big journey to figure out the next steps for both of them. So their relationship will be fun to watch, [as well as] troubled. They're going to go on a wild ride together."
Steve might be gone, but he's not forgotten. Stan and Mackie said Steve was Sam and Bucky's "third leg" when speaking to TV Guide at the D23 Expo. And Skogland more or less echoed those sentiments, going on to add that they'll certainly be missing their pal. "He was their best friend, so you can imagine that is something they have to mourn over," she said.
Bucky is getting a haircut. When TV Guide talked to Stan and Mackie at D23 Expo, Mackie joked that they had to cut Bucky's hair. "No respectable man wears that hair," he said. When asked the same question about the status of Bucky's 'do, Skogland told TV Guide, "Expect the unexpected, that's all I can say."
It was eventually confirmed via posters and photos from set that Bucky does, in fact, have short hair, but it's unclear how or why except that Stan deserves it.
That might not be all that's changing. When we asked if Bucky might be getting any other upgrades (depending on your point of view about his hair, of course), Skogland remained predictably tight-lipped. However, she did promise that "it will be a lot of eye candy, let me put it that way." Sounds good to us!
We don't know yet if there will be a Season 2. Each of Marvel's new series will be limited in nature, but as we've learned recently, that word doesn't really have any meaning in Hollywood anymore. Unfortunately, we're not likely to know about the future of Sam and Bucky beyond this series for quite a while.
"I think anything with Marvel, they take it a piece at a time. And they are very story focused. So if it makes sense for a story, they will do it, and if not, they won't," said Skogland. "I have no idea what will be next, and I'm sure they would probably say the same thing. It's like, we're really working on this right now, with an all-hands-on-deck effort to make it the best it can possibly be. And then of course I hope [we can do more], but [there's] no word."
Additional reporting by Lindsay MacDonald