Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may be one of Marvel Studios’ small-screen ventures, but it’s arguably one of the most ambitious productions it’s ever undertaken. The show manages to deliver a truly cinematic experience that would rival the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s been able to maintain that standard as it’s progressed. The show especially deserves praise for its top-notch action sequences and, as you’d imagine, pulling them off proved to be challenging. Now, the show’s cinematographer has shed some light on the sequences that proved to be the most complicated.
From the freeway fight in episode two to the fight between John Walker, Lemar Hoskins and the Dora Milaje in episode four, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has certainly been filled with great moments. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the show’s cinematographer, P.J. Dillon, during which we discussed the show’s cinematic scope among other things. When asked about the sequences that were the most challenging to execute, he first cited the aerial sequence that kicked off the show:
Different sequences have different challenges, like the aerial sequence in [episode] one had its challenges, because it was a mix of real people jumping out of planes and shooting that stuff, and then mixing that with stuff shot against green screen. So that was challenging.
The high-flying sequence, which saw Sam Wilson rescue an Air Force captain from terrorist Georges Batroc, is definitely a highlight of the show and is executed brilliantly. You have to give P.J. Dillon, director Kari Skogland and their collaborators a lot of credit for seamlessly mixing in the real elements with the visual effects.
The fifth episode (“Truth”), however, provided P.J. Dillon and the crew with even more challenges. The cinematographer went on to discuss the episode’s opening fight, which pitted Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes against new Captain America John Waker. While the scene was difficult enough to shoot as is, there were some external challenges in the mix by that point:
The big fight sequence at the start of [episode] five is probably my favorite sequence that I shot. And the challenge with that was that due to scheduling and production difficulties, we didn't have as much prep as we would have had on some of the other action sequences. So to a certain extent, we had to sort of invent that as we went along. And I'm really pleased with how it turned out. So that was challenging, but I think something that came off really well.
As many might remember, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was one of the many shows to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, the show had to adapt to schedules and other obstacles when returning for the final stretch of production.
Still, if you’ve seen that explosive fight, you’d probably agree with P.J. Dillon when he says the sequence turned out well. The fight is thrilling to say the least and easily sits alongside some of the most intense bouts in the MCU. What puts it over the top, though, is that it carries plenty of emotional weight, as Sam and Bucky seek to take back the shield from Walker and preserve the legacy of their comrade, Steve Rogers.
P.J. Dillon and the rest of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier crew have managed to make something truly special in the sprawling MCU. Let's hope that like the Falcon, the series can stick the landing when the finale drops on Friday April 23, at 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT on Disney+.