Marvel is back this week with the premiere of its next Disney+ show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Hitting screens on March 19, TFATWS is the next instalment in phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For newcomers, that may sound like there’s a lot to catch up on – and you’d be right. But is it possible to go into this new show without seeing any prior Marvel movies?
Can you go into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier blind?
The short answer here is no. Your viewing of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be far more rewarding if you’ve seen the other Marvel movies. That’s kind of Marvel’s whole plan with the MCU, they tie each project into the next so you’ll keep coming back.
The good news is that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is far more accessible from the start than the other Marvel Disney+ show WandaVision.
TFATWS follows a much more traditional plot and structure. There are big action set pieces, a new mystery to unravel and it places these returning MCU characters on a new journey. That much makes it a lot easier to pick up if you’re going in blind.
These Disney+ Marvel shows aren’t necessarily the best entry points for newcomers into the MCU – they’re set in phase four after all – but it’s not impossible to jump straight in. Just be ready to keep up.
If you’re expecting to see a superhero origin story in TFATWS, however, you won’t find it. The show hits the ground running. If you go in derived of any MCU knowledge you run the risk of missing the significance of certain plot points. But you can still have a great time watching it.
Here’s what you really should watch before TFATWS
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame. This movie was the culmination of all events in the MCU so far, so these phase four projects are basically everyone dealing with the fallout of that film. If you have time to watch only one thing before TFATWS, it should be Avengers: Endgame.
If you have time to watch more than that you should consider the Captain America movies and Avengers: Infinity War.
Seeing as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set at the beginning of phase four, shortly after the events of Endgame, you could go into this with the mindset that it’s a fresh start for the MCU. You may puzzle over plot points that are knowledge to everyone else but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the show.
If you really don’t want to watch any Marvel movies before TFATWS we’d at least recommend you watch Marvel Studios Legends on Disney+. These are short episodes, under 10 minutes, that explain the backstories of each of the major characters in TFATWS.
Naturally, they’ll spoil these characters’ roles in previous Marvel movies, but if you’re choosing to watch TFATWS before any other Marvel movie, you’ve really signed yourself up to be spoiled.
Here’s the bare minimum backstory you need
If you’re choosing to just dive in, here’s some non-spoiler backstory that’ll help you to watch TFATWS.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier deals with the legacy of Captain America, so you may be wondering who that is and where he’s gone?
Captain America was a soldier injected with a super serum back in WW2. He was a war hero, got frozen in some ice and woke up 70 years later to become one of the main heroes in the Avengers. Without revealing what happened to him, he’s basically disappeared since Endgame and passed on his iconic shield to Sam Wilson (Falcon).
Another thing you’ll hear a lot about in TFATWS is ‘the blip’. This is explained briefly in the first episode, but if you want a heads up, the blip was an event where 50% of the Earth’s population disappeared for 5 years. They returned thanks to the Avengers and the world has been readjusting ever since.
One of the main characters in the show, Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) also has quite a backstory in the MCU. What you need to know is that he was Captain America’s best friend and was also frozen by the Nazis during WW2; waking up years later. He’s been brainwashed to do some pretty terrible things in his past and he’s trying to deal with the fallout of all this in TFATWS.
Ok, this is the bare minimum of knowledge you need to go into the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on March 19. If superhero origin stories and easter eggs don’t matter to you, then there’s really nothing stopping you from going into this show blind.
But you’ll probably enjoy The Falcon and the Winter Soldier more if you’ve seen the other MCU movies (which are all conveniently on Disney+ by the way).
If you’re keen to give The Falcon and the Winter Soldier a try you can find out how to watch it in Australia here. Now go forth and enjoy the MCU!