‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Director on Creating Sam’s Captain America Entrance
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.]
After six thrilling weeks, Disney+’s original Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier concluded its first season. While there are no plans for a second at this time, it’s safe to say the title would undergo a little name change considering former Falcon, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), is now Captain America.
Taking up the mantle previously held by pal Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and briefly appointed to John Walker (Wyatt Russell), Sam made his grand entrance in the show’s finale episode “One World, One People.” Along with neutralizing the immediate threat of the Flag Smashers with the help of right-hand-man Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Sam spread his wings and helped save the day in style.
Below, series director Kari Skogland opens up about helping orchestrate Sam’s Captain America entrance, reveals her favorite scenes to shoot, and more.
Sam’s entrance as Captain America in the finale episode was epic. Were there any other possible alternate versions discussed or filmed? What was it like creating that moment?
Kari Skogland: No, by the time we shot that, we really knew where we wanted him to be. But, I think what was important to me, I really love a great entrance. So it was like, “Okay, just how does this work?” And so as we worked out the location — because obviously, much of this is location-driven — you get inspired by what you have. We were in a real location, so I thought, “You know what? He’s got to come crashing through the window somehow. That’s it because that’s an entrance.” So that’s what we did.
We wanted to see him with the wings just outside the window, and then throwing of the shield into the window [with] the somersault and stand and that was really just a couple of power moves put together into a sequence.
So, taking that sequence into consideration, how much planning goes into orchestrating an entrance as well as action-packed moments like the ones seen in the finale?
It’s like a dance, right, at the end of the day. So they’re very rehearsed and planned in advance. We do all kinds of versions of them before we even take them to the actors, who then give their input and then they start to rehearse those specific moves. We talk to the camera — I’m part of all that — and then I also bring in the camera teams so we know what specific equipment we want to [use] because it might have some specifics that we want to tweak. So there’s a lot that goes into it and it’s months of planning, even before we start. Any sequence that we shoot, there’s months of planning before we get there.
With that in mind, inside the big plan of it, if you find something as you’re shooting that’s inspirational, we definitely embrace that. Having said that, I think most of our accidents, or inspirations, or momentary bits that we wanted to capitalize on were always emotionally charged because each one of the action sequences I designed to have an emotional context.
We understood the characters, where they were going, what they were doing based on the character story. Each action sequence has its own little story and then as a group, they have a whole other story, which is like Sam and Bucky. The first fight they’re in, they are a mess, when in comes the new Captain America — John Walker — and Lemar, and they’re like a fighting machine together. They’re well-orchestrated and our guys are useless together. By Episode 5 they are working as a coordinated team, so that was the overriding arc of where they were going
The series has been described as a six hour movie. As someone who has worked in both TV and movies, what was your approach as a director to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
From the beginning, I really wanted to direct all six because I wanted to make it a movie. Kevin [Feige] and the entire team — Nate [Moore] and Zoe [Nagelhout] — really wanted it to be a movie as well in the sense that it had big cinema, big themes, big character performance potential, and all that. So we also tackled it [that way] because we were going to be shooting in different countries and we wanted to tackle it where we could shoot out.
When you shoot it like a movie, you shoot a couple of scenes, like at Zemo’s apartment, on one big block which might show up in each different episode, but you discover as you’re shooting them… you have a lot more dexterity in allowing ideas to percolate through the whole show. So I enjoyed the authorship of that.
Now that it’s all said and done. Was there a particular moment or scene you enjoyed filming the most?
Well, I loved the therapy scene between the two of them which riffed off the therapy scene with Bucky that was also terrific to shoot. I think another one was even Sam alone watching a TV and seeing John Walker for the first time, these were all big charged moments that needed a light touch and be very carefully crafted so they didn’t overplay, but they were nonetheless big character shifts in one form or another.
Between the two of them with the therapist, that was a bit of a path of discovery because we did quite a bit of ad-lib in that scene. And it was important to capture the fact that they were going to come apart and agree to disagree, and that they were never going to be friends. And yet, we also needed to see the switch with Bucky. He starts out all ready to flip, and then we really get to the core of who he is in that moment, and I found that to be super compelling. When we went into the scene, we weren’t really sure where we were going to place that, and it just came out organically. So those are the moments where the truth and the authenticity of the character and their friendship come together, and we walked away from that scene feeling very satisfied
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Streaming now, Disney+