“WandaVision” vs. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” – What’s the Better Marvel Series?

WandaVision vs FWS

The new Marvel series “Loki” is coming to Disney+, so I wanted to give my thoughts on the MCU’s two previous series: “WandaVision” and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” To determine which is superior, I’ll be covering 5 categories: Heroes/Main Characters, Villains, Story, Action/CGI, and Contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a whole. Also, I’ll be calling “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” FWS for the purpose of this review

SPOILER WARNING

Heroes/Main Characters: “WandaVision” started out with a disadvantage in comparison to FWS since the title characters, Wanda Maximoff and the Vision, were underdeveloped in the previous MCU movies while the Falcon and Winter Soldier both had small character arcs before their show. However, I found Wanda and Vision to be far more likeable in their show than Falcon and Winter Soldier in theirs for the most part. The character motivation for Falcon is laughably bad; the whole point of his character in FWS is that he learns to overcome his fear/skepticism of becoming the next Captain America, but he gave up the shield that the original Captain America gave to him in “Avengers: Endgame” for no good reason. Some controversy over the history of the shield is (poorly) developed later on, but that’s only after he gave the shield away to the government. Then when the government gave his shield to someone who actually appreciated the opportunity (and earned it), he is somehow surprised. Meanwhile, the Winter Soldier didn’t have much screen time and when the show had the opportunity to explore his damaged psychosis, it chose not to in order to explore a political agenda with Falcon instead. In contrast, Vision went through a wonderful arc throughout “WandaVision” in which he realized the evils Wanda was committing, and Wanda was also interesting in that her reasons for commiting said horrible acts were somewhat understandable because of how much she suffered in her past. Winner: WandaVision

Villains: Agatha Harkness was the main villain in “WandaVision” (although Wanda became a villain toward the end of the show), and while Harkness’ motivations were poorly written and unclear, she was entertaining due to Kathryn Hahn’s charismatic performance as the character. Overall, she was a mediocre antagonist. Meanwhile, FWS had two villains (because it was a jumbled mess): John Walker as the new Captain America and Karli Morgenthau. Walker was, in theory, a compelling character due to the mental scarring put on him from serving in the military, but the show forced the idea that he was a villain on us too heavily and too soon. What I mean is that Falcon and Winter Soldier both hate him at first, and the show is trying to tell us that he is the bad guy constantly, but he had too many redeeming characteristics as well as a genuine, noble desire to serve his country, so he wasn’t as villainous as the how believed he was. However, I still liked the character overall and thought that he was the best part of the show. In contrast, Karli Morgenthau was possibly the worst MCU villain ever, and that’s saying a lot, because the MCU is known for its atrocious villains. First of all, the show kept trying to promote the idea that she was doing all these violent acts for a good cause, but the cause that it keeps mentioning is never fully explored, and she lacked any legitimate motivations. Plus, unlike John Walker whose violent actions were nearly all justified since he was trying to protect people from terrorists, her actions were completely unjustified. She was blowing up buildings with innocent people in them without remorse, and somehow we’re supposed to understand her. Additionally, the actress who played her, Erin Kellyman, gave a cringe-inducing and annoying performance. She was also hilariously unintimidating due to her adolescent appearance and voice. Since Karli Morgenthau was such an abysmal character and one of the worst comic book movie/show villains of all time, “WandaVision” earns the point. Winner: WandaVision

Story: I found the first half of “WandaVision” to be extremely compelling and unique. The idea of two superheroes acting in sitcoms from different decades was brilliantly executed during the first five episode. I found myself excited to learn more about the mystery of the show as each episode progressed. However, starting at episode six, the show’s quality took a steep decline and the writing became sloppy and careless. Episodes 6 and 7 were completely pointless, and although I enjoyed episode 8 due to its character development for Wanda, the show’s finale was pretty unsatisfying, as Wanda was left alone by the government despite her basically enslaving an entire town. As for FWS, the story was a complete mess. Every character, except for John Walker, was either boring, sidelined, or ruined. Instead of making an exciting buddy-cop action/adventure series with two entertaining characters, the showrunners decided to make the show about why the previous Captain America was an oppressive figure and emphasized how Falcon wouldn’t be accepted as the new Captain America due to being African-American. Not only was that plotline executed in a preachy and overbearing way, but real-life proved that that premise was completely false. The internet went insane in its excitement for Falcon becoming Captain America, and I couldn’t find a single person who was opposed to the new Cap due to his race. I had no problem with it at all, and in fact I was ecstatic at the end of “Avengers: Endgame” when Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, gave the shield to Falcon. Also, as previously mentioned, the motivations for Karli Morgenthau and her terrorist group, the “Flag Smashers” (which is a ridiculous name), was extremely underdeveloped, which is a major problem when the show is trying to make terrorists somehow understandable. However, the worst part of FWS was that it was a major disappointment. The Captain America movies and Steve Rogers’ arc were always the most interesting to me, and I went into FWS extremely excited, but finished the show wishing I never saw it. Winner: WandaVision

Action/CGI: Almost all of the action in “WandaVision” was CGI-heavy and mind-numbing. It reminded me of the end battle in “Man of Steel,” with all the headache-inducing CGI destruction. On the other hand, FWS had decent action. In particular, the sequence in which John Walker fought Falcon and Winter Soldier was enthralling and thoroughly entertaining. The CGI in some of FWS looked a little unpolished at times, but it looked great for the most part. Winner: FWS

Contribution to the MCU: In my opinion, both of these shows hindered the overall story of the MCU. “WandaVision” revealed that Wanda can literally create new life like she did with Vision, so it raises questions as to why she didn’t bring her brother Pietro back (who died in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) or bring some of the Avengers who died back to life, like Tony Stark/Iron Man. Although this aspect of “WandaVision” definitely damaged the already low believability of the MCU, it didn’t ruin any of the characters, which I think is more important, as the characters have always been the most important parts of the MCU. However, FWS did ruin characters. Not only was Falcon made into a social justice figure instead of an inspiring superhero, but the Winter Soldier was sidelined for most of the show. As mentioned earlier, Zemo was made into a joke. Sharon Carter, former secret agent and relative of Peggy Carter (the World War II hero and the love interest for Steve Rogers, the original Captain America) was ruined as well. The writers for FWS decided to make Sharon the criminal named the “Power Broker,” because she turned to crime after she was apparently hunted by the U.S. government after helping Steve Rogers in “Captain America: Civil War.” Not only does it make no sense that the relative of one of the world’s greatest WWII heroes would turn to crime and be hunted by the U.S. government, but the fact that she was hunted by the government in the first place damages the Steve Rogers character as well. Rogers was pardoned by the U.S. after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” and with his history as an American hero and no longer being deemed an enemy like Sharon Carter, he easily could have had the government pardon Sharon as well. Rogers was always supposed to be a selfless and caring hero, and it would only make sense for Rogers to want to help the relative of the love of his life (Peggy Carter). The fact that he essentially forgot about her and let her become a criminal is ludicrous and completely out of character. At least “WandaVision” didn’t have any character assassination in it. Winner: WandaVision

Summary: Looking back at both of the shows, I’m disappointed in Marvel. It’s clear that the MCU has lost its quality and has just become a money-making machine with little creative passion. FWS might have been the worse MCU product so far, and that’s saying a lot considering “Ant-Man & the Wasp,” “Captain Marvel,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and “Iron Man 2” are all in the MCU as well. “WandaVision” was half of a compelling, unique show and half of a bland, formulaic Marvel series, but it was far superior to FWS. I would rank “WandaVision” in the bottom half of the MCU movies and shows, but I still enjoyed myself quite a bit in many moments. I recommend MCU fans watch “WandaVision,” but if you don’t care about the MCU, you should skip it. Everyone should avoid FWS, as it’s a waste of interesting characters and potential for a compelling narrative.

WandaVision – 4 Points | Grade: C+

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – 1 Point | Grade: F

My ranking of all the MCU movies (Pre-Black Widow): https://reel-opinion.com/2020/07/26/the-mcu-infinity-saga-movies-ranked/

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