Following the highly-acclaimed launch of Marvel’s WandaVision earlier this year, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is the next superhero adventure on the horizon on Disney Plus.
The second release in Phase Four of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), the TV series stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, otherwise known as the Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier.
Despite previously having a bit of a testy relationship, having both been close with Captain America (Chris Evans), the pair must now work together to combat new threats in the form of anti-patriotism group the Flag-Smashers and resurfaced villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who first appeared in Captain America: Civil War.
So where does The Falcon and The Winter Soldier fit into the MCU?
Chronologically speaking, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is set six months after the end of Avengers: Endgame.
At the very end of the film – spoilers if you somehow haven’t seen it in the past two years – a now-elderly Steve Rogers (Chris) hands over his shield to Sam.
Bucky is also there, watching in the background as Sam is passed the mantle of Captain America.
WandaVision, the first release from Phase Four of the MCU which premiered in January this year, was set just three weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
This therefore means that there is around a five-month gap between WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
How did Bucky’s journey in the MCU develop?
Bucky made his MCU debut all the way back in 2011, when he was introduced as the best friend of the weedy Steve Rogers, who would go on to become Captain America after being injected with a special serum.
Having enlisted in the 107th division of the army as a sergeant in the Second World War, Bucky – along with the majority of his regiment – is captured by Hydra.
He is rescued by Steve, but not before Hydra scientist Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) carries out experiments on him, which would later enable him to survive a fall from a fast-moving train while on a mission with Captain America and the Howling Commandos.
More than 70 years into the future, Steve has no reason to doubt that his best friend from his younger years is dead… which is why he’s stunned when he comes face to face with Bucky in the 2014 sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
What’s more, Bucky seemingly has no recollection of who Steve is.
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow, explains to Steve that Bucky is a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier, who has been carrying out hits for decades.
After being retrieved from his fall from the train in the Second World War, which resulted in the loss of his arm, Bucky is brainwashed and turned into a lethal hitman.
By the time of the Captain America sequel, he is under the control of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), an acquaintance of Nick Fury’s.
By the end of the film, it appears that Bucky has started to remember his friendship with Steve.
However, in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, it’s apparent that he’s struggling to flush out the many years of brainwashing and torture he endured, as Helmut Zemo is able to get in his head and try to use him to tear the Avengers apart.
Finally, at the end of the film, Steve turns to the Black Panther T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) for help and refuge for Bucky in Wakanda, where the Winter Soldier is placed in a cryogenic sleep and his prosthetic arm is eventually replaced.
Bucky was last seen on the battlefield in Avengers: Endgame, having disappeared in the Blip in Avengers: Infinity War.
When did we first meet Sam in the MCU?
Sam was first introduced in the MCU in Captain America: Winter Soldier, when he befriends Steve while they’re both out running Washington DC.
Steve learns that Sam is a former US Air Force pararescueman who is now helping to support other veterans.
However, when Steve and Natasha reach out to Sam for help while they’re on the run from Hydra, they learn that he was a special kind of pararescueman during his military days.
Sam was trained using a specially designed ‘Falcon’ wing pack, which is how he gains his superhero name.
After helping Steve and Natasha uncover Hydra’s secret infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sam becomes a member of the Avengers, with Anthony reprising the character in Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.
While Cap is seen at odds with Iron Man in Civil War, Sam remains at Steve’s side, even when he and his comrades are placed in an underwater prison called the Raft – which Captain America eventually breaks them out of.
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam seems unsure about accepting the Captain America shield from Steve, as he feels that it doesn’t ‘belong’ to him.
Will Steve’s assurances be enough to convince him otherwise?
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier launches on Friday on Disney Plus.