It was just two weeks ago that Marvel Studios finished its streaming run for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+. The project brought Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson to the forefront as he continued his hero's journey. The six-episode saga continued the MCU's success in the world of streaming as Wilson and Bucky Barnes adapted to a post-Avengers: Endgame world with challenges in front of them at every turn.
This show coming to fruition was an accomplishment in and of itself after it was notably forced to halt production at the height of the pandemic in March 2020. While this major obstacle forced the team behind this series to change course on some logistical decisions and story ideas, everybody pulled together, putting forth an excellent TV show that rivaled much of what the MCU delivered in the Infinity Saga.
Speaking with the head of VFX for this series, the health crisis didn't actually stop anything in his department from happening, although it helped give the team time to fine-tune everything.
ERIC LEVEN TALKS FALCON & WINTER SOLDIER VISUALS
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier VFX supervisor Eric Leven spoke with Screen Rant about some of the previsualization work that went into the series, specifically on if COVID-19 changed anything in that regard.
While Leven revealed that "most of the previs had been finished," the pandemic gave the team "time to step back and make all that previs better" for the final cut.
"No, I think most of the previs had been finished. What happened in COVID was we had the time to step back and make all that previs better, so we added a lot of new beats."
Leven also touched on the series finale when "Captain America is flying around trying to save that helicopter," commenting on the decision to have Sam protect the helicopter pilot with his new wings. This was something added later in order to "make his character more interesting":
"For example, in [Episode] 6 when Captain America is flying around trying to save that helicopter, we were trying to figure out what's a really cool moment; what's something cool he could do here to make his character more interesting? What we settled on was he saves the police helicopter pilots on the bridge and he covers himself up. That was something that was added after we'd done the initial previs."
On the other hand, the team explored options that never made it to screen. This included something like having Sam Wilson's Captain America wings "actually catch the shield and it [coming] back," or other visually stunning ideas like having the wings be able to "actually throw the shield":
"But there were a lot of other ideas, like, 'What if he could do this? What if he saves this? What if he does that?' So, there were little bits of exploratory things. Early on, we were trying to figure out how to use the wings and the shield together. So, we had a lot of really cool ways, like maybe the wings actually catch the shield and it comes back - or the wings can actually throw the shield."
While a few of these ideas didn't make the final cut of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there's still the possibility that "maybe that stuff gets used in the future" for other projects:
"There were explorations like that. It just happened that for this show, we didn't have the chance to use that stuff. Maybe that stuff gets used in the future, or maybe not."
A BALANCE OF RISKS AND PRACTICALITY
It's clear that while the pandemic brought some major challenges for Marvel Studios, it gave the production teams the chance to explore new options for how to make their projects better in the end.
Sam's new Wakandan wings proved to be incredibly useful in the final episode, not only helping him fly again but for a multitude of other practical uses in battle as well. Having them able to catch the shield as he flew may have been a cool added benefit, but Sam Wilson wasn't lacking as a hero without that ability.
Even with these challenges, it's great to know that not much had to be changed from previs before the show was filmed and edited. Sam and Bucky were showcased as new versions of the heroes fans came to know and love, and the stage is set for both of them to flourish as Phase 4 and beyond continues over the years.
All six episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are available to stream on Disney+.