Big-screen Marvel action shifts to Disney+ with Falcon, Winter Soldier

LOS ANGELES: Avengers: Endgame just lost its crown as the biggest box-office hit of all time, but the Marvel superhero spectacular still looms large over parent company Disney's plans for the small screen as well as reopening theatres.

The 2019 smash hit, whose US$2.798 billion (S$3.75 billion) haul was surpassed by last weekend's Chinese re-release of James Cameron's 2009 sci-fi record-breaker Avatar, was a unique theatrical "event" that concluded the plots of 21 previous interconnected films.

Those eagerly anticipated storylines continue tomorrow on Disney+, with six-episode series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier that sees Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles respectively.

Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige told a virtual press conference: "We kept saying, 'if we are going to do a series with Falcon and Winter Soldier in it, we need to at least start off with the best action that we've ever seen'. And we've seen a lot of cool action with both of them before."

The two characters were relatively minor roles in the Marvel films. But as his superhero name suggests, Falcon can fly - thanks to a high-tech winged jetpack - and the opening sequence of the series is a special effects-laden aerial spectacular.

"Just because it is on TV, doesn't mean it is not going to be as big as it could possibly be as a movie," added Mr Feige.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier is the second Marvel show to hit Disney+, following the quirky yet critically adored WandaVision, whose place within the franchise's overarching story was cryptic to say the least.

But Falcon - which was intended to arrive first, before production was derailed by the pandemic and earthquakes in Puerto Rico - follows on more directly from Endgame and is overall much more familiar territory for fans of the movies.

"It was pretty on a par with the films, I felt - actually, even more evolved and intense," said Stan of the action sequences, which also used the same stuntmen as the movies.

While plot details are under wraps, the pilot sees Wilson (Mackie) still struggling with the loss of Captain America, who appeared to pass the superhero mantle to him in Endgame, in the form of his iconic shield.

Meanwhile, Barnes (Stan) is undergoing therapy after his horrific experiences outlined in the films.

"As crazy and extraordinary and science fiction and fantasy and supernatural" as Marvel stories can be, "the character experiences and the emotions of the character (are) always by far the most important anchor", said Mr Feige.

The characters have been through trauma, which is forgotten when "there are sparkly portals opening and people cheering and a giant man punching a flying lizard", he joked. - AFP