As a final bookend on the action-packed series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Marvel Studios: Assembled has released its latest behind-the-scenes episode on Disney+. Assembled is an immersive series of documentary-style specials examining the creation of Marvel Studios’ thrilling new shows and theatrical releases, the first episode of which was dedicated to WandaVision.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sees the return of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, and it takes place in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, in which Steve Rogers passed on his vibranium shield to Sam. The six-episode series explores Sam’s journey to accepting the shield and becoming Captain America alongside Bucky’s road to recovery from his exploits as the Winter Soldier. Meanwhile, the two must also team up on a global adventure full of familiar faces and cunning new adversaries.
“The Making of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” takes a deep dive into the series with the cast and and crew, exploring the stories behind the characters, the planning behind the script, and the magic that brings all of the action to life.
See below for a summary of highlights from the hour-long special.
After seeing them work together on and off in previous Marvel films, audiences knew that Mackie and Stan would be an incredible duo to lead a series. Co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout touched on how The Falcon and The Winter Soldier crew wanted to explore the interesting, buddy-cop, tumultuous dynamic that had been established between the two of them.
And whereas Endgame was set on such a huge scale, director Kari Skogland made it clear that they very much wanted this series to be set in a relatable, grounded place in the real world. Further to that, the aimed to explore what it means to be a hero in today’s world, and how that has evolved from the idea of a hero being a soldier/warrior. Sebastian Stan praised Skogland’s directorial style, which was unique for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that it set out to truly capture the characters’ inner thoughts.
For showrunner Malcolm Spellman, Sam’s line about the shield feeling like it belongs to somebody else in Endgame, and the notion of legacy, were both important to him in writing the series. He felt that it would have been dishonest to simply have a Black man accept the shield with no ambivalence. Sam’s hometown in Lousiana was built off of Anthony Mackie’s own roots in New Orleans in order to make his back story more persona. As for Mackie, he feels that Sam’s journey is very relevant right now as a Black man in America.
Whereas Sam’s search for identity is about his future, Bucky’s is rooted in his past. The crew had to tackle 10 years of storytelling with Bucky, as they were finally able to give him a chance to process what he’s been through (something that couldn’t be explored with the constraints of the films). Stan touched on his awareness of the importance of the consistency of his character throughout the films and the series, because there are situations where a fan could be watching all of Bucky’s film appearances simultaneously.
As for the vibe of the show, Spellman explained that they were aiming for a Lethal Weapon feel. Skogland commented on how well Mackie and Stan bounce off of one another when they work together, and how hilarious they become with the addition of Daniel Brühl as well.
As for Zemo, co-executive producer Nate Moore said that the writer’s room was inspired by key art of the character from Captain America: Civil War. Brühl was excited to return to the role in order to explore Helmut Zemo further and to also finally have the opportunity to don the purple mask. Stan praised the way in which Brühl showed a human side of Zemo, turning him into a dynamic, funny, and different character.
When it comes to John Walker, Moore felt that Wyatt Russell brought a specific energy and edge to John Walker that helped him stand apart from Sam and Bucky. Russell’s scene partner Clé Bennett reflected back on how excited he was when he found out that he would be playing Lemar Hoskins, remarking how he had his comics at home.
The Dora Milaje were a fitting addition to the series, and Florence Kasumba shared how she’s always excited when she’s given the opportunity to play Ayo again, regardless of what the story may be.
There were several location-based challenges for shooting The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. They were initially booked to shoot in Puerto Rico, but they had to scrap that due to earthquakes and thus had to adapt their prior plans to their set in Atlanta. Nagelhout also reflected back on how they had only been shooting in Prague for a week before the pandemic hit, and they had to shut down temporarily.
Production designer Ray Chan and Skogland discussed the process in bringing Madripoor to life, and how they build it up from a series of back alleys in a small town outside of Atlanta. Chan drew inspiration for the design of the streets from Vietnam and Mozambique.
Costume designer Michael Crow brought up a hot topic amongst fans — Zemo’s incredible coat. He explained that it was based on a World War II Russian/Polish military overcoat with a dash of comic book inspiration. Viewers were then treated to a brief, hilarious skit performed by Brühl, fittingly dubbed the Suit-kovia infomercial.
Sharon Carter finally made her well-deserved return in the series, and Moore admitted that they had considered bringing her back in previous Avengers installments. However, there were too many characters already for them to properly do her justice. Divorcing her character from her relationship with Steve Rogers allowed them to explore another darker side of her in the series.
The Flag Smashers were a pivotal part of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier‘s story, and Erin Kellyman said that she was excited when she learned that they had put a spin on her character for the series, as Karli was originally a man in the comics. Spellman shared that the idea behind Karli was to tap into the spirit of how people feel today.
Some fascinating exploration of the series’ visual effects followed, with a deep dive into the process that went into crafting Sam’s flight scene in the first episode and the semi-truck battle in the second episode.
Carl Lumbly’s Isaiah Bradley was a brilliant and emotional addition to this story of Sam’s road to becoming Captain America, and it was something that Spellman brought to the project because of how much the comic series Truth: Red, White & Black had resonated with him.
As for our all-new Captain America, Mackie said that it’s been an emotional experience for Marvel to give him the opportunity, as a Black man, to become Captain America. He and Spellman spent hours on the phone fine-tuning his unforgettable speech from the finale. And as for his fancy new suit, Skogland shared that months of planning went into his Cap custome. VFX Supervisor Eric Leven gave an inside look at some of the magic that went into the costume, such as the fact that they needed to digitally remove the unpreventable wrinkles in Sam’s cowl that would happen whenever he moved his head.
To close out the special, Mackie explained that with everything that’s been going on in the world right now, the timeliness of the series has been jarring and surprising to him.
“My truth has changed and evolved so much. As far as me being a father, as far as me being a man, and as far as me being an American. And a lot of that has come out of this role and this series. So it’s been humbling in a real sense, but also inspiring, to think that my sons will be able to turn on the tv and see a Black Captain America.”– Anthony Mackie
All six episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Check out our extended coverage on the series here.