TV review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
There was always a danger in being normal.
After the out-there brilliance of WandaVision, going back to the world of less fantastically powered heroes always risked a sense of deceleration.
And for the first episode of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, many viewers must have been wondering how slow this second Marvel show currently streaming on Disney+ would go.
After an admittedly thrilling opening - one many action films would want as a finale - we were suddenly dropped into a world of denied bank loans and introspection, all while being denied the meeting promised in the title.
While it is good to get some backstory - who knew the Avengers do not get paid? - it was a gamble, one allowed from knowing you have a semi-captive audience.
That Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) gets adulation for saving the planet but still struggles financially is classic Marvel comics, where back in the day, everyone from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four had to think about the rent.
The second episode, however, is everything many of us hoped the series would be: Sam and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) acting like badly behaved kids in the back seat - hilariously disrupting a therapy session - in between bouts of highly coordinated action.
It is the buddy dynamic of Mackie and Stan that really puts this on a higher level.
Anyone can be an action hero, but not everyone can squabble with enough charm to prevent things from devolving into an Adam Sandler routine. There is real joy to be found in the super-powerful being super-pathetic.
The series is also world-building with former super-soldier experiments, a new crew of super-soldier terrorists who want things back to how they were during the Blip, a new Captain America and an old enemy.
This post-Blip world still carries old problems, though.
And while Sam is hailed as the Falcon, in civilian guise he can still get stopped by the police.
Hopefully, subsequent episodes pack in as much as this second instalment.
It is less of a treasure hunt than WandaVision, but could deliver some game-changing moments for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
SERIES: The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
STARRING: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell, Emily VanCamp, Daniel Bruhl
DIRECTOR: Kari Skogland
THE SKINNY: After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson (Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Stan) are trying to adjust to the world - which is not helped by the rise of a new terrorist group called the Flag Smashers.
SHOWING ON: DISNEY+