The Falcon and the Winter Soldier pushed the boundaries of its TV-14 rating for Marvel Studios. The star-spangled series carried the legacy of the Captain America film franchise through its visceral action, intimate fight sequences, and innovative combat. That innovation was exemplified in the final moments of Episode 4, which featured Wyatt Russell's John Walker using the iconic shield to bludgeon a Flag Smasher.
Since the show exists exclusively on Disney+, Marvel Studios has free rein to make retroactive alterations. This was first done in WandaVision, as fans noticed the finale's post-credits scene was subject to scenic upgrades months after it initially aired. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was not immune to these changes either, as two shots from Episode 3 were scrubbed of their blood and violence.
Unlike WandaVision's modifications, the changes made to Anthony Mackie's solo series were unintentional. According to Disney+, the censored edit was due to an accidental "software control issue" and would be "corrected immediately."
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's Blood Returns
The legacy of that shield is complicated, and so is the house of mouse's software.
As evident on Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been restored to its original, non-updated cut. The move back to the original cut has been in effect since at least April 6.
This is the second instance of Disney+ restoring original cuts in a matter of days. The streaming service initially removed an "In Loving Memory of Stan Lee" tribute from The Punisher and an "In Memoriam" for actor Reg E. Cathey from Luke Cage, but reinstated both homages shortly after.
Disney+ Restores the Skogland Cut
Marvel Studios projects go through a variety of versions before making their way to screens. That especially goes for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which was subject to a lost subplot that showrunner Malcolm Spellman noted he had "been told to stop talking about."
Regardless of what happened with that axed storyline, it never made it to air. What fans saw over the course of six weeks in Spring 2021 was the vision director Kari Skogland had for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. While some of the most brutal elements were shrouded with smoke and mirrors, Skogland and company intended to showcase the uncomfortable ramifications of certain action scenes through blood.
Making changes to a product that has already aired, no matter how miniscule, sets a dangerous precedent. With a large sector of the Marvel Cinematic Universe exclusively existing on Disney+, Marvel Studios technically has the power to make retroactive alterations that reshape how fans view the franchise.
That said, Disney+'s immediate rush to restore the original cut after an accidental adjustment says that that power is in good hands.
All six episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are streaming now on Disney+.