The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has left the Marvel Cinematic Universe with some major status quo changes as it concluded its six-episode run on Disney+. With Chris Evans' Steve Rogers having said “goodbye” to the MCU, for now, Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson left behind his time as the Falcon to become the next Captain America.
With the story seemingly set to continue in a fourth Captain America movie, there is little chance that a second season will be hitting Disney+ anytime soon. Throughout the series, fans were treated to cinematic-level action sequences, intense character moments, game-changing twists, and a deep analysis of what it means to be Captain America.
After a lot of debate surrounding the series, The Direct ranked all six episodes from the worst to the best.
6.) Episode 1: "New World Order"
Much like WandaVision, the premiere episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been ranked by many fans as the worst of the series.
It's safe to say the series kicked off with a bang as viewers were treated to arguably the best aerial action scene yet for Anthony Mackie's Falcon. However, the episode quickly dwindled off to act more as a set-up for what's to come rather than doing any major storytelling in its own right.
Despite the series' duo-centric title, Sam and Bucky never actually meet in “New World Order” as the episode instead focused on setting up what the two heroes are doing in the post-Endgame world.
Granted, the story offers both the titular heroes some of their best character moments yet in the MCU. The episode turned Sam into one of the most relatable Avengers as his post-Blip financial situation is explored with the introduction of his sister, Sarah. Meanwhile, Bucky is shown to be dealing with serious mental trauma as he spends time in court-mandated therapy.
One of the most surprising inclusions in the episode was the brief cameo of Don Cheadle's James Rhodes. While he sadly never suited up in the War Machine armor for a fight sequence, he did appear to offer Sam some advice, a fitting inclusion given the strong themes of African-American discrimination in the series.
As a whole, the debut episode achieved its goal of introducing its characters and setting the stage for what's to come, however, it did little to stand out among the rest of the blockbuster saga.
5.) Episode 2: "The Star-Spangled Man"
After only a brief cameo in the premiere, the second episode of the Disney+ series introduced fans to the next Captain America: John Walker.
Much of the episode is spent exploring who Walker is, as well as revealing that while he may be an antagonist to Sam and Bucky, he isn't necessarily a bad guy. Wyatt Russell does an excellent job in embodying this role in a way that cleverly makes the audience hate him while still enjoying his on-screen presence.
Fortunately, “The Star-Spangled Man” quickly unites Sam and Bucky to take the duo on a mission against the Flag Smashers in Germany. Not only that, but the pair fought alongside John Walker's new Captain America, giving fans their first taste of the U.S. Agent action to come.
Possibly the strongest representation of the series' theme of racial injustice is found in this episode as Sam becomes a victim of police discrimination. Additionally, Isaiah Bradley was introduced as a Super-Soldier-infused veteran with a history with Bucky, who was cast aside by his country for simply following orders.
While most of the action is found in the first half of this episode, the latter moments contain some of the best Sam and Bucky buddy-cop humor to come out of the whole series. Following Bucky's arrest, the two are treated to what almost amounts to a couple's therapy session, which does an excellent job at setting the stage for the dynamic between the two.
4.) Episode 6: "One World, One People"
It's clear that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier delivered fans a crowd-pleasing finale, leaving them with most of the moments they had been waiting for. Not only did Sam Wilson suit up in one of the best suits to come out of the MCU yet, but John Walker finally donned his classic U.S. Agent look, both of which were well-translated straight from the pages of Marvel Comics.
Sam Wilson truly proves himself as the right choice to become Captain America in this episode as he fights off the Flag Smashers' attacks while also standing up for what is right in an extremely powerful speech to the world.
Bucky was given the closure he deserved in an amazing performance from Sebastian Stan that ended the Winter Soldier chapter of his life. Not only that, but the former HYDRA assassin finally found himself the family and friends he had been searching for.
As was expected by many viewers, Sharon Carter was revealed to be the Power Broker crime boss of Madripoor. While this character shift was interesting to see revealed in the series, it wasn't explored in much detail and was primarily used to set the stage for future stories with the character.
John Walker saw a major character change in this episode as he seemed to accept he wasn't right to be Captain America, however, he still chose to be a hero in his own right.
As a whole, the climactic episode did an excellent job of concluding all its characters' stories fittingly, but it left plenty of room to be explored in future MCU projects.
3.) Episode 3: "The Power Broker"
“The Power Broker” is undeniably one of the best episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as it pushed the bar of the series well beyond that of its two predecessors.
Daniel Bruhl's return to the role of Baron Zemo proved to be a surprise highlight of the episode as the iconic villain's club dancing scene turned into a viral meme overnight. Beyond the laughs, reuniting the two Avengers with the Captain America: Civil War antagonist to take on a common enemy led to an unexpectedly strong connection to the character.
While his hatred of Super Soldiers remained strong, Zemo proved to be a powerful ally to the titular duo in his newly-revealed wealth and connections. The introduction of Marvel Comics' X-Men island Madripoor left the door open for plenty more appearances in the future and is used well in this episode to take the globe-trotting adventure to new territories.
But, Zemo wasn't the only Civil War character to make their return, as Sharon Carter appeared to help the group navigate through Madripoor's criminal underworld and track down the creator of the modern Super-Soldier Serum.
The series' third episode is packed with some of the best action to come out of the six-episode saga. It makes for a fast-paced enjoyable ride from beginning to end with plenty of laughs along the way.
2.) Episode 4: "The Whole World Is Watching"
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's fourth installment included what could be seen as the story's game-changing moment when a Super Soldier Serum-infused John Walker murdered a Flag-Smasher. Ultimately, it was this moment of anger and desire for revenge that cost Walker his mantle of Captain America, allowing Sam Wilson to finally take up the mantle.
Excitingly, the episode heavily ramped up the Wakandan involvement in the series' story as the Dora Milaje arrived to recapture Baron Zemo. This moment led to one of the greatest action scenes of the six episodes as the legendary group of female fighters took on Falcon, Winter Soldier, John Walker, and Battlestar.
Overall, “The Whole World is Watching” primarily centered around John Walker's downfall as he took the serum and committed a brutal murder. However, the episode did a lot to develop the Flag Smashers into a group of well-developed villains who have legitimately been hurt by the world and are determined to pursue their cause by any means necessary.
1.) Episode 5: "Truth"
After waiting through four episodes to finally see Sam and Bucky take on John Walker for the shield, “Truth” finally offered fans that moment in glorious fashion. After his surprise infusion of the Super Soldier Serum, Walker proved to be a tough foe for the duo, however, they eventually came out on top and walked away with the iconic shield.
As he left behind the Captain America mantle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina made her MCU debut to set John Walker on the path to his U.S. Agent future. While the Seinfeld actress' surprise character didn't exactly live up to the major cameo promises made by the crew, it certainly set the stage for a substantial Marvel future.
Most importantly, the penultimate episode saw Sam both emotionally and physically preparing himself to become America's hero both through a tough conversation with Isaiah Bradley and a rigorous training regime.
As a whole, the episode is packed with some of the best character moments to come out of the series, making up for its lack of major action sequences beyond the opening. Additionally, it left fans on a major cliffhanger, leading directly into Sam donning his Wakandan-made suit in the climactic finale.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now exclusively on Disney+.