NEW DELHI: The coronavirus pandemic may have delayed the release of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, but series director Kari Skogland says the health crisis allowed the team to keep pace with the events happening around the world.
Based on the characters played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the six-part show was supposed to be the studio’s first series for the streaming service Disney Plus.
Initially, the production was delayed due to two earthquakes on location in Puerto Rico, followed by a COVID-19 shutdown.
In response to a question by PTI at the show’s global virtual press conference from Los Angeles, Skogland on Sunday said though the pandemic didn’t cause a change in the story, they had to “pivot and react” to what was happening in the world.
“What really was exciting was that once we were shut down through COVID-19, we didn’t skip a beat. (We) went straight into post production and were able to continue editing and really sharpening the pencil.”
“What was terrific about it was that it sort of turned into a weird opportunity that while the world was changing, we were also able to sharpen our focus. So when we went back, we really knew what we were going for, what we were shooting to finalize the change in the series,” the director added.
Being the second in line after the success of “WandaVision”, starring Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, there is a lot of anticipation around “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, which is markedly different in tone than its predecessor.
“I’m so thrilled ‘WandaVision’ did so well, it sort of set the bar. So, fingers crossed,” Skogland, who has directed episodes of acclaimed shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Vikings”, added.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” picks up after the events of the 2019 tentpole feature “Avengers: Endgame”, where superheroes Sam Wilson/Falcon (Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Stan) team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities and patience.
The series has a “buddy cop feel” to it with a Marvel twist, the director said, adding she took inspiration from filmmaker David Lean’s work and the 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboy”, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
“The idea was to go wide and then put in a pot, stir it and come up with something that is a unique signature for our look,” Skogland said.
Writer Malcolm Spellman, who has created the series, revealed that the seeds of a potential project with Falcon and Winter Soldier in the lead were sown during the making of 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War”.
“There was about a 12 second moment in ‘Civil War’ where it feels like every single Marvel fan, Kevin Feige and all his partners knew these two guys are going to be able to support a movie or franchise. In that 12 seconds, everyone knew what it was going to be. That’s sort of a transcendent thing,” Spellman recalled.
The writer, whose previous credits include the 2010 rom-com “Our Family Wedding”, said the buddy cop genre allowed them to explore a range — of a gritty “48 Hours” to a comedic “Rush Hour” along with a little “Lethal Weapon” and “Bad Boys” in the middle.
“What we liked about them that it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, but also allows a lot of creativity (freedom) if you need to take on real issues and get into something very Marvel-y. It is a very doable form of storytelling,” he added.
Mackie and Stan tapped into their real-life dynamic to further nurture the relationship between their polar opposite characters, who used to be Captain America’s (Chris Evans) partners at different points in time.
“You can’t find two people further opposite than each other than Sebastian and I. But there is mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation of that person. We listen, learn and teach each other a great deal.”
“We are friends, this isn’t a term either of us uses lightly. I think because of that there’s no jibber-jabber. We allow ourselves to be our best selves and we correct ourselves when we are not our best selves. You look for that other person, but that’s kind of our relationship,” Mackie said.
In the series, while the “new and improved” Sam is trying to get back to regular life, five years after the Thanos’ finger snap, and dealing with racism and money problems, former Hydra assassin Bucky is seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Stan said the team was trying to find a fine line between making these characters “grounded” and deal with serious issues.
“PTSD is not something you’re just done with. It’s something one has to continue to grow with and become better at dealing with it. It’s a major part of the show that grounds these two characters. There is another piece to this, even having fun and connecting. I turn to Anthony for guidance and it always works,” Stan said.
Asked which new heroes they would like to share the screen within the future, Stan said he wants to team up with Isaac Oscar’s Moon Knight.
Mackie said he wants to collaborate with She-Hulk and also star in the “Blade” universe.
Double Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali is set to play the character in the upcoming “Blade” film, set in the MCU.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” is slated to be released on March 19 in English for subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar Premium and in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu for subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar VIP and Disney+ Hotstar Premium.
The series also stars Emily VanCamp, Daniel Bruhl, Wyatt Russell, and Don Cheadle, among others.