Disney Plus will debut the first episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” on Friday, May 19. Like the recently concluded “WandaVision,” the show will detail the happenings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe post-“Avengers: Endgame.” Going by its trailers, the six-part series will be a thoughtful but action-packed buddy comedy with a summer blockbuster budget.
However, almost two years have passed since the last Marvel movie made it to theaters. Thankfully, viewers do not have to marathon view over a dozen movies and one mini-series to get up to speed. This refresher covers all the relevant MCU storylines and characters involved in the new show.
***Warning: This article includes spoilers for the Marvel movies and TV series that precede “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”***
“Falcon and Winter Soldier” is set some point after “Endgame,” which capped off more than a decade worth of MCU storylines. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “WandaVision” are also set post-Endgame, but it is unclear where this new series falls in the MCU timeline.
When last we left our heroes, the Avengers and their allies successfully undid Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) disintegration of half the universe. However, the victory came at a tremendous cost. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) died, Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) retired, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) left Earth.
With most of its founders out of action, the Avengers are seemingly defunct.
An Air Force veteran, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), uses a powered wingsuit to work as a superhero called the Falcon. He forged a close friendship with Rogers while the super soldier got acquainted with the modern world in “Captian America: The Winter Soldier.” In “Captain America: Civil War,” Wilson became a fugitive after violating the Sokovia Accords by working as an unsanctioned vigilante.
He was disintegrated by Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” but returned to life five years later during “Endgame.” Rogers also passed on his shield – and implicitly his mantle – to Wilson in the latter film.
Based on the events of “WandaVision,” the Accords are still in place, meaning Wilson could still be a wanted man. Promotional material for “Falcon and Winter Soldier” also indicates the U.S. government wants someone else to assume the Captain America identity.
In “Falcon and Winter Soldier,” Wilson sets out to find and shut down a dangerous anti-patriot group called the Flag-Smashers.
The Winter Soldier
James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is an Army veteran who served alongside Rogers in World War II. Bucky seemingly died on a mission but was actually captured by a terrorist organization called Hydra. The group brainwashed Barnes and outfitted him with a cybernetic arm to operate as an assassin called the Winter Soldier.
Hydra kept Bucky in suspended animation between missions, which preserved his youth and vitality to the present day.
After the Avengers dismantled Hydra, a terrorist named Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) tried to take control of Bucky’s mind. Zemo used the Winter Soldier to create chaos worldwide and form a schism in the superhero team. However, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) captured the villain and restored Bucky’s mind. Despite the truth coming out, the U.S. government still sought to prosecute Barnes for his actions under Zemo’s thrall.
Though he fell victim to Thanos’ “snap,” Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) brought Barnes back to life in “Endgame.”
Winter Soldier and Falcon have an acrimonious relationship, but Bucky tacitly supported Rogers’ decision to pass his shield to Wilson. He also teams with his best friend’s successor to take down the Flag-Smashers in their eponymous Disney Plus series.
Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp) came into the MCU as an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent assigned to protect Captain America. During the operation, she almost started a romantic relationship with Rogers. Carter left the organization during Hydra’s uprising to support Captain America and later joined the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.).
In “Civil War,” Carter provided Rogers and Wilson with intelligence that allowed them to locate Barnes. She went on the run after betraying the CIA by giving the renegade Avengers their previously confiscated superhero gear.
Like Falcon and Winter Soldier, Carter turned to dust in “Infinity War” but returned to life in “Endgame.” Carter will appear in “Falcon and Winter Soldier” to aid Wilson and Barnes in their new adventure.
Helmut Zemo is a former Sokovian intelligence officer who is extremely proficient at espionage and psychological warfare. He lost his entire family during Ultron’s (James Spader) attack on his country in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Afterward, he dedicated himself to destroying the superhero team using secrets he discovered about Hydra.
Zemo orchestrated a bombing in Vienna that killed Black Panther’s father and set up Bucky as the perpetrator. Though his plot to have the heroes kill each other failed, he considered the Avengers’ breakup a major victory. At the end of “Civil War,” Black Panther turned him over to the CIA.
Given his past actions, Zemo might have some connection to the Flag-Smashers.
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will debut on Disney Plus on May 19.