“It’s a big puzzle, and I think it was really positive… to have that whole puzzle in my head every day,” describes director Kari Skogland of her Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” Skogland earned an Emmy nomination for directing an episode for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and has “popped in” on a plethora of series like “The Borgias” or “Boardwalk Empire.” She was attracted to this Marvel epic because it afforded her the chance to author the entire season. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“From the very beginning, I said this is the most important story of the decade,” declares Skogland. That’s largely because at the heart of this series is Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie) decision to take up the mantle of Captain America. What would it mean for a Black man to wear the stars and stripes and how would society react to him. When reflecting on the country’s recent reckoning with racial equity which has dominated headlines, the director believes “that story and that discussion is long overdue.”
The image of Captain America as he first appeared in comics, was born of an era where a hero was a white soldier symbol. “That seemed very outdated to me,” says Skogland. Realizing that the word “hero” now encompasses people like frontline workers and first responders, she set out to expand on the concept of “hero” as it relates to today’s world. This is felt not only in Sam’s journey to accept Cap’s shield, but in “what that shield meant to every different person.”
The infamous shield was the centerpiece of perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment of the season: John Walker (Wyatt Russell) brutally murders a man in broad daylight with this vibranium symbol of patriotism. “One of the wonderful things about working with Marvel is that they never back off,” explains Skogland. When reflecting on this game changing moment, she says she “wanted that action sequence to feel more like a horror movie.” The director puts Walker off-kilter from the start of the scene via the setting and pacing, so that when he finally loses it, “we go inside his head.” The final image of a soldier holding the bloody shield is one of many moments that lead back to Skogland’s central question of the series: “What is a hero today?”
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