Still haven’t finished WandaVision? Too bad! On to the next one. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres on Friday, and the Ringer staff has thoughts. Light spoilers for earlier films in the MCU follow; otherwise, read below:
1. What are you most hyped for heading into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
Tunde St. Matthew-Daniel: Finally getting what feels like a spiritual sequel to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also, having Ringer voices like Mallory Rubin and Van Lathan break down every episode on The Ringer-Verse podcast. :)
Steve Ahlman: Seeing, hopefully, the resolution of Bucky and Sam’s internal struggles. Bucky needs to grapple with the atrocities he’s committed throughout the decades and find peace after being the Winter Soldier. Sam needs to realize his own worthiness and rise to the occasion to become Captain America.
Charles Holmes: Mutants. Mephisto. Reed Richards.
In all seriousness, I’m excited to see Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes be able to shine without Steve Rogers. Both characters have had moments here and there, but I’m intrigued by a full series of this.
2. Which character are you more excited to see re-enter the MCU: Sharon Carter or Baron Zemo?
Surrey: Baron Zemo, not just because he is played by Brühl, but because comic book villains are almost always more interesting when they don’t have a bunch of superpowers. Last time I checked, the only special ability Zemo has is being extremely European.
Holmes: The reintroduction of Baron Zemo means a Thunderbolts TV series ain’t too far behind. Sorry, Carter, but you’ve never led a motley crew of C-list villains turned kinda-heroes.
Ahlman: Sharon Carter’s potential to become a major player and far more developed character is very exciting to me. In comics canon she was formidable against supervillains and Avengers alike, and the MCU has yet to really scratch the surface with her. While Zemo is a very fun and compelling villain—and I’m sure he’s up to a clever scheme in this show—I just got to stick with the Carters.
Adeniran: Sharon Carter didn’t have much to do in her previous appearances (besides be a romantic rival to her great aunt), so I’ll be excited to see what she can do in a hopefully expanded role.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Shouts to the scheming Zemo for still being the only Avengers villain who didn’t need henchmen or a CGI army, but I’m rocking with Sharon Carter here. She’s the Seth Curry of the MCU. She’ll always be in the shadow of her more famous family member (Peggy Carter), but she’s finally getting the playing time this season to make a name for herself.
3. Falcon vs. Winter Soldier—who wins in a fight?
Holmes: The Winter Soldier was handing out fades to Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Iron Man, and Falcon in Captain America: Civil War. The answer is obvious.
Surrey: I’ll take the guy who spent decades brainwashed and killing targets for an evil organization. He also has a cool metal arm.
St. Matthew-Daniel: The Bucky from Captain America: The Winter Soldier—in his HYDRA prime—is too much for Falcon, with or without Cap’s shield.
Ahlman: Code-activated Winter Soldier wins hands down. Bucky was an absolute savage under HYDRA’s control and could go toe to toe with Steve Rogers. If it’s non-brainwashed Bucky, I can see it being more of an even fight, with a slight edge to Falcon.
Adeniran: The Winter Soldier would have never lost a fight to Ant-Man. I got Bucky Barnes in four.
4. Anthony Mackie vs. Sebastian Stan—who wins in a fight?
Surrey: Trick question: the answer is jacked Wyatt Russell.
St. Matthew-Daniel: I have no idea, but Anthony Mackie was the shook one the last time he battled a “Stan” actor.
Adeniran: If it’s a war of the words, I got Anthony Mackie. If they have to catch hands, I’ve got Sebastian Stan. Have you seen him train for those fight scenes? He’s ready for prime time.
Holmes: Anthony Mackie is not Papa Doc, and if I was a less petty person I’d say Mackie hands down. But I can never forgive Mackie just standing there and letting brunette Eminem rap his autobiography in 8 Mile. So I’m giving this to Stan by default.
Alhman: Both are too kind to put themselves in this situation and I’m offended by this question. Anthony Mackie.
5. Who do you think should take up the mantle of Captain America?
Adeniran: It’s gotta be Sam. I wish Bucky Barnes could be more than the Winter Soldier, but everyone knows him as the guy who assassinated people on and off for 70 years; he’s not really Captain America material …
Actually, I changed my mind, Bucky would make the PERFECT Captain America.
Alhman: Falcon, clearly. Steve and Bucky both knew the mantle was not for Bucky, and it’s not something Bucky would want to pursue anyway. Sam may be reluctant to rise to the position, but it’s that very humble nature that makes him worthy of it.
Holmes: The MCU is in desperate need of some charisma since the departure of Robert Downey Jr., and contrary to popular belief the closest successor is Anthony Mackie. The punch line of the “on your left” scene in Winter Soldier hinges on his exasperation and physical comedy. He had some of the best zingers during his fight with Spider-Man in Civil War (“Is this stuff coming out of you?”). If anyone can add another layer to Captain America that differentiates the character from Chris Evans’s portrayal it’s Mackie and, by extension, the Falcon.
Surrey: Different universe, but Homelander—the most terrifyingly accurate depiction of modern American values in a superhero property.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Falcon deserves it more than any other MCU character, but sign me up for a Team Cap approach. Let’s get an updated roster of the Howling Commandos with Sam, Bucky, and Sharon passing the shield around like the ball movement of those Duncan-Parker-Manu Spurs teams.
6. Are you happy about the short layover between WandaVision and this series, or do you wish it had been longer?
Holmes: Happy? Sad? Who has the luxury of these emotions in the content mines?
St. Matthew-Daniel: Wish for a longer wait for new MCU content to drop? In this economy? In this pandemic?
Ahlman: If we weren’t in the depths of COVID and starved for movie-level Marvel content, I would say we could benefit from more time. But with a seemingly endless supply of Marvel TV content until the summer, it’s probably a good idea for both Disney and the fans to rekindle a post-Endgame enthusiasm.
Surrey: We could’ve used a slightly longer layover, but given how much Marvel programming Disney plans to release in the coming months, there’s really no such thing as an MCU layover in 2021.
Adeniran: I’m a huge fan of the expedited release schedule. MCU fans have been starved of content; before WandaVision, it had been about 18 months since Marvel Studios dropped new content. The Mouse cannot get enough movies, shows, and tie-ins in front of my eyes at this point.