The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is just around the corner and knowing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one big spider web interconnected with each other, there are films and series in the MCU that are so intimately interwoven to each other that one has to watch some films and series to fully understand the upcoming shows.
In the case of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the canon series of the MCU is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame where Sam Wilson aka The Falcon and Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier will take on the helm that Captain America has left when he decided to re-live his life while in the pursuit of returning the infinity stones to their timeline.
Captain America's departure begs the question of who will take on the shield of Cap and while it is deliberately given to Sam, there is still no assurance that he is the next Cap as he did not expressly accept the shield telling Steve that he feels that the shield belongs to someone else, that it is something borrowed.
The shield of Captain America bears so much weight that it represents the ideals of the American community of being the land of the free, of choice and power. To wield the shield is both a representation and a responsibility. With the question still floating, it is expected that the series will be answering this and finally settle who takes on the mantle of being the new Captain America.
As Marvel enters Disney+ with its limited series, just like in the recently concluded WandaVision, there are films under the MCU which needs to be watched first in preparation for the upcoming The Falcon and The Winter Soldier to fully appreciate and understand the story and the history of both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes and how they are important in the MCU.
Here is the FULL LIST of everything you need to watch to be fully prepared for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
One of the first films that started it all, Captain America: The First Avenger tells the origin story of Steve Rogers and his road to becoming the Captain America that we know of today. Steve Rogers was just a wimpy kid who wants nothing more than being a soldier to fight in World War II. He has everything: the wits, the heart, the courage, everything except the physical capabilities.
This is where his best friend, James Buchanan Barnes, or Bucky for short, gets introduced in the MCU. Bucky is a member of the 107th Infantry Regiment and was sent off to the second World War. While his best friend is away, Steve does everything he can to be enlisted and Abraham Erskine recruited him to be experimented on to finally be Captain America.
Captain America started as just a symbol of hope for America but upon learning that his best friend Bucky was declared dead after not being able to return to base, Steve decided to do a rescue mission where he learned that Bucky and the Infantry were captured by the Red Skull.
After the success of rescuing them, Captain America formed a team with them, The Howling Commandos, to stop Hydra. However, in an unfortunate event, an ambush on the Austrian Alps ensued leading to Bucky's presumed demise after falling off the train hundreds of feet beside a mountain.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because it is the origin of not only Captain America but of Bucky/ The Winter Soldier as well. It shows who Bucky really is before he became the Winter Soldier. This also shows the intimate friendship between Steve and Bucky "to the end of the line" and their unbreakable bond over the years.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Captain America is now an Avenger after 70 years of being on the ice and he has become a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. Since Steve is a war veteran as well, he comes to a support group for war veterans where he met a former pararescue airman who volunteers on helping veterans cope up with post-traumatic stress disorder, Sam Wilson.
Easily, Steve and Sam became friends. However, the quiet life of Steve was upended as The Winter Soldier arrives, causing turmoil in everything – leading to the (almost) death of Nick Fury himself. As The Winter Soldier poses a threat, it was also revealed that no one can be trusted as S.H.I.E.L.D. has been confirmed to be infiltrated by HYDRA dating years back.
Not knowing who to trust, Steve found out that Sam is pararescue with an advanced winged jetpack which he uses for combat and flight – The Falcon. Sam says that when it's Captain America asking for help, who is he to say no and that it is an honor for him.
They head-on, along with Black Widow, facing both HYDRA and The Winter Soldier who was then revealed to be Steve's best friend, Bucky Barnes, who survived the fall from the train and retrieved by HYDRA to experiment on. While he lost an arm, it was replaced by a metal one. He was brainwashed to be HYDRA's hitman for the termination of anyone who stands in the way of HYDRA.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because this is the very film where all the main protagonists of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier met: Sam Wilson/ The Falcon, Bucky Barnes/ The Winter Soldier, and Sharon Carter/ Agent 13. This is the first film where all of them met, though not directly, but this film introduced all three of them.
Sam Wilson's first MCU appearance is in this film as well. It showed how he started as an ex-soldier turned Avenger and it establishes the friendship that he and Steve have. "On your left," they would always repeat this as if it is their comfort words to each other. Just like how Steve would always say "to the end of the line" to Bucky. (Wow, Captain America really likes taglines. It's like he can do this all day.)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
When the Avengers successfully took down Baron Strucker of HYDRA, Tony Stark hosted a party in his new Avengers Tower. Since Steve has no "plus one," he brought Sam with him. (Coz, who says friends can't be your plus one, right?) Sam and Steve talk about a "missing persons" case which was later revealed that Steve is looking for Bucky.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because this is where Sam first meets the whole OG Avengers. This also shows the efforts of both Steve and Sam in locating Bucky who seems to have been in hiding well as he is nowhere to be found. While Steve is busy in Sokovia fighting Ultron and his bot cronies, Sam is on the other side of the world searching for Bucky. Also, it is seen in the post-credits scene that Sam is officially an Avenger.
Sam, now an Avenger, meets Ant-Man in the new Avengers facility and his butt was kicked easily by Scott. Because he was intrigued with the capacity of Scott as Ant-Man, Sam kept tabs on him and kept an eye for him: either a possible recruit or a possible enemy. Either way, Sam and Scott had a hilarious exchange in that scene.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because the film shows how Sam is stepping up his game as a new member of the Avengers. He also keeps an eye on the new Avengers facility and looking out for possible powered individuals for recruitment showing his contribution to the team, something other Avengers couldn't.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
The Civil War between the Avengers ensues as the Sokovia Accords were put in place and Bucky gets out of his deep freeze. The Sokovia Accords tend to regulate powered individuals. When the accords were about to be ratified, The Winter Soldier set a hit on the United Nations blowing up the place and killing the T'Chaka, King of Wakanda, father of T'Challa.
In the efforts of saving Bucky, Sam and Steve went rogue and rescued him as the whole world is after him. With the shield of Cap and wings of Falcon in custody, Sharon Carter/ Agent 13 lend a hand to the three.
With the Avengers divided on the approval of the accords, it caused a split between them with Iron Man in agreement with restricting heroes and Captain America believing in free will. Steve, Bucky, and Sam take on Wanda, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye on their team against Tony, Rhodes, and Natasha, who recruited Vision, Spider-Man, and T'Challa.
The Avengers took sides and had a battle in an airport wherein the end, Natasha lets Steve and Bucky fly. After Tony discovered that it was Bucky who killed his parents, he was enraged and followed Bucky and Steve to Siberia where they had an intense fight.
Meanwhile, Helmut Zemo was about to kill himself via suicide when he was stopped by T'Challa to put into the custody of the authorities while Bucky was granted asylum by Wakanda and he was put into another cryogenesis to help him recover from being brainwashed.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because this is the film where almost all the important characters of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier got involved with each other. This film also portrayed the friendship built between Sam and Bucky through their common best friend, Steve, and where they got to team up with Peggy in their attempt to escape.
This film also cleared the name of Bucky where all his killings were attributed to HYDRA's brainwashing experiment on him and where he decides to go clean as he submits himself to therapy in Wakanda.
Not only that, but Helmut Zemo also appeared in this film showing why he is involved in the narrative and how important his character is in the MCU setting up his vengeance for his family who was casualties of what happened in Sokovia. He is set to be one of the villains on the upcoming The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther reveals that Wakanda is more than just a third-world country; it is the only and largest source of vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth. It shows the advanced technology of the country hiding behind an enclosure to make it look like it is a third-world country living in the depths of the forests.
The post-credits scene of Black Panther shows Bucky, only with one arm, like a broken white guy that Shuri fixed. Bucky seems to have a great sleep in cryogenesis that he seems to be ready for the future and has already buried the past behind him.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because it sets the self-rediscovery of Bucky and this is where he found solace with his own mind. Plus, Chadwick Boseman, ‘nuff said.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
After the break-up of the Avengers, the Mad Titan is coming to Earth to retrieve two stones: Time Stone with Doctor Strange's Eye of Agamotto, and Mind Stone on Vision's forehead. Falcon is still a fugitive after the events of Captain America: Civil War, still, he looks out for others as he helps Steve, and Natasha rescue Wanda and Vision from the Black Order members Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive.
The Avengers are together again in Wakanda, sans Stark and Spider-Man who followed Dr. Strange in the ship of Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian. With an impending invasion of Thanos, they plan to protect Vision and the Mind Stone trying to separate the stone from his body with Shuri doing the job and Wanda guarding Vision.
T'Challa orders to give Steve a shield and Bucky a new vibranium arm. Sam is one of the front-liners who spots on how many are coming and Bucky is alongside Cap on the ground. In the end, they almost win. Wanda was able to destroy the Mind Stone while keeping Thanos away had Thanos didn't reverse time through the Time stone.
Thanos was able to snap half of the universe including Sam and Bucky.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because, for the first time in a long time, Bucky is fighting for what is right. He now has his own free will back and this time, alongside Steve and Sam. It also establishes The Winter Soldier as an ally to the Avengers, if not one.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
After the blip, the OG Avengers look for ways to cope up with the loss of half of the universe including a number of their allies. Once they got Stark home, they pursued the Mad Titan only to find out that he destroyed the stones making it all irreversible… or so they thought.
Ant-Man, who was stuck in the quantum realm, got out thanks to a rat (yes, the rat saved half of the universe, thank you) who sparked the plug back and Scott found out about the blip. He came running to the Avengers facility proposing a plan to retrieve the stones from the time it was still whole, borrow it from that timeline, and bring back everyone snapped before returning the stones on their time.
Thanos of the past traveled to the future to end them and obliterate the universe clean as those lefts did not thrive as he wanted them to be. Too late, they're all back and while Thor, Iron Man, and Cap were fighting Thanos, Cap hears "on your left," what Sam and Cap always say to each other. Needless to say, they won against the Mad Titan and successful in bringing back what was blipped at the cost of the lives of Natasha and Tony.
Steve, Sam, and Bucky were all together at Tony's funeral. Steve took the responsibility of taking the stones back to the timeline where they belong as Sam and Bucky send him off, even turning down the offer of helping him, only for Steve not to return through the machine but as a gray old man sitting on the side of the lake seemingly one that has had the time of his life.
Steve revealed that he finally got to the dance he promised Peggy and he lived his life to even reaching old age. He's retiring and he passes the shield to Sam, making him his choice to be the new Captain America.
YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS because this ultimately sets up The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. This is where Sam received the shield of Cap and his blessing to continue the legacy that Cap has built over the years. With only Bucky robust enough to be on his side, Cap seemed to be confident in his decision of choosing Sam.
As for Sam, he is quite unsure as he feels that the "shield belongs to someone else."
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
The series will pick up on where the Avengers: Endgame left. The Falcon, alongside The Winter Soldier, will be facing the villains Helmut Zemo, returning to wreak havoc, and the anarchist group tearing down peace, The Flag Smashers. Sharon Carter aka Agent 13, niece of Peggy Carter, will also be returning in the series as well.
With only six episodes, the weekly series is expected to answer the questions will Steve Rogers be back, how would Bucky and Sam step up after the retirement of Cap, and most importantly, who will be taking on the shield and be the next Captain America especially with the introduction of Wyatt Russell's John Walker, the Super Patriot/ US Agent the government would like to put in and be the new Captain America.
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is rated 16+ which means that there would be a lot of action and violence coming in the series which will be released via Disney+ where it would be available in 4K. There is no news yet as regards the release of the series on DVD or Blu-Ray.