Friday, March 19 marks the premiere of the Marvel Studios series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney+. Vital Thrills recently attended the virtual press conference for the show with guests Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, director Kari Skogland, head writer Malcolm Spellman and Marvel President Kevin Feige.
Feige spoke about the impact of the first of the six episodes, which journalists were able to stream before the press conference. He said that the cast and crew “were working just as hard on it [as a film] and putting all our blood, sweat and tears into. Which is why, in this first episode… it really starts off with a bang. We kept saying, ‘If we’re going to do a series with Falcon and Winter Soldier in it, we need to at least start off with the best action that we’ve ever seen.’
“And we’ve seen a lot of cool action with both of them before. And more importantly, as I think you also see in that first episode and will see much more of over the course of the series, learn who the heck they are. We know a little bit about the poor Bucky Barnes and what he’d been through. Sam Wilson, other than that he likes the job and is an inherently moral man and had been in the service and worked with PTSD, we didn’t know much about them. So, it was really an opportunity to go-to go deep.”
Skogland spoke about the influences on the show, calling it a “six-hour film.” She said, “We just kind of figured out where to snip it at certain hour marks.” She said she and Spellman “did a lot of looking at movies and shows – primarily movies that were in our paradigm, because we have a buddy cop kind of relationship going on, so we looked at some of those.”
Skogland mentioned the angles we’re going to see. “I think that we respected that we were going to be into people’s perspective, so we really had to go in deep character and be able to sustain that… how we see Bucky while he’s in therapy. All the different ways we could be more intimate with these characters so we get to know them.”
Spellman spoke about why this made sense for the characters, saying, “There was about a 12-second moment in Civil War where it feels like every single Marvel fan, Kevin Feige, and all his cabal partners knew that these two guys were gonna be able to support a movie or a franchise. And in doing the interviews, I feel like you can’t really take credit for the tone because in that 12 seconds everybody knew what it was gonna be, and that’s sort of a transcendent thing.
“You can go from as gritty as gritty as 48 Hrs. to as comedic as Rush Hour, but in between there is sort of that first Lethal Weapon and that first Bad Boys. And what we liked about it was it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, but also allows the broader creative to – if you need to take on real issue or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y, it’s a very durable form of storytelling.”
One thing we learn from the first episode is that Sam Wilson/Falcon is from New Orleans, as is Anthony Mackie. He joked, “I had one request that, if he was from Louisiana, I had to eat crawfish on-camera, and I don’t know who said no, but somebody said no.” He laughed, “So, I don’t know if it was because they were out of season, but it was too much to get crawfish for Marvel.”
He continued, “It was great, you know, the idea of Sam Wilson, he’s always evolved in the world of the Marvel comic books, and now he’s evolved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because if you remember, when Sam Wilson first started out, he was a hustler from Harlem. And then, as African American culture evolved, Stan Lee evolved him in the comic book into different incarnations of himself. So I’m excited for everyone to see the new and improved Sam Wilson.”
Stan talked about how he’s spent 10 years with this character. “You grow, and you evolve with the character, and look, I mean, I think everyone here is definitely going to sort of attest to this… I was pretty freaked out because I felt like we had established a character a certain way, and there were certain things about him that I knew, and I was very comfortable and familiar with tonality in the movies right? And then we had to kind of go into this and go, ‘Alright, well, what is he like now?’ And that part was really kind of us homing in on his sense of humor so to speak.
He continued, explaining that Spellman “really kind of homed in on that and I think we’re really finally kind of zooming in on his quest for identity and in terms of really accepting his past and sort of re-educating himself about the world he’s currently in, and the ideals and principles he might have lived by and been driven by at one point that perhaps no longer really serve him in the same way.”
Mackie said, “I think the great thing about [the show], what I enjoy so much, you can’t find two people further opposite than each other than Sebastian and I, but there’s a mutual respect, understanding, appreciation of that person. We listen, learn and teach each other a great deal.”
Stan agreed, saying, “I feel like in acting and sort of the scenes and the material, it’s always about the people that bring out things in you, actually, and I think in this particular situation, it was particularly important, because it’s about the tone, and we were trying to find a very fine line between sort of making sure these characters are grounded, real and deal with very serious issues. And then, there’s sort of another piece to this, about even having fun and kind of connecting. I always actually turn to Anthony for guidance in that, so it works out.”
The actors were asked about the evolution of the characters and if we’ll see them continuing to deal with past trauma and PTSD. Mackie said, The idea of Sam Wilson and the character and the evolution of what’s now known as The Falcon, to be able to go back and dive into his backstory, and his family and his surroundings, only betters the character for the audience. We’re in a place now where we want the audience to know and learn these new characters – especially since Kevin finally killed Iron Man
“We have to put ourselves in a position where we have to introduce these new characters to the audience and give them a relationship, that history they’ve built up over 10 years. Now we have six episodes to play catch up, post blip. So it’s always great to learn more and give more about your character and not feel like [it’s] heavy exposition, and you know, just a lesson.”
Stan agreed, saying, “You know, the whole subject of PTSD and the experience that they both share, as soldiers, as men who have served, is one of the things that brings them together. And there’s sort of a bit of an honor code between them. Even though they come from different ideas or opinions about things, there’s a mutual respect.
“As everyone knows, PTSD is not something that just sort of [makes a noise] you’re done with. It’s really something that one has to continue to grow with and to become better dealing with. So it’s a major part of our show, and it grounds both of these characters in very realistic ways.”
In terms of whether or not we’ll get a second season of the series, Feige said, “We get asked much more in television, because people expect it to be like what they know before: Where’s season 2?” We approached it like the movies: We better make this great, because we won’t be able to do another one.”
He also said, “If we’re able to do another one, there’s certainly ideas… the slight difference, of course, is as you’ve all heard me say, and I think is becoming clear with WandaVision, that they really will go back and forth between Disney+ series, and the Marvel Studios features. So where the characters show up, and how, sometimes will be in a direct season 2. Sometimes will be in a feature and then into an additional season. We’re just not going to say who does what right this second.”
The pair, who came together in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame, team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities – and their patience.
Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the series also stars Daniel Brühl as Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.
Are you guys excited for the show’s premiere on Friday, March 19? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @vitalthrillscom.