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SYFY WIRE The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

How an ill-timed migraine nearly derailed plans for 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' series

By Don Kaye
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The next major Marvel series on Disney+, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, premieres about a month from now. But creator and head writer Malcolm Spellman's vision for the show almost didn't make it — thanks to a terrible headache.

Speaking with TV Line, Spellman recalled being selected as one of a small group of writers invited to develop a pitch for the show. Each writer was teamed with a Marvel executive who would guide him through the process, and in Spellman's case, he was working with longtime Marvel VP of Production and Development Nate Moore.

But when it came time for Spellman to deliver his presentation to Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige, the writer was struck with a migraine headache — apparently a chronic condition that caused him to fumble his pitch and suffer through a less than satisfactory meeting with the top Marvel exec.

It was Moore who still believed in Spellman and his concept for the show, however, and pushed for the writer to get his shot. "He heard what I wanted to do," Spellman told TV Line. "That I wanted [race] to be part of the story very prominently, and I think he knew it was right."

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, of course, was going to make it onto Disney+ with or without Spellman's involvement, but it might have ended up being a very different show with a very different direction than what we're getting in a few weeks if he didn't ultimately land the job.

And while we don't know yet how the show is going to turn out, Spellman says that it will definitely address issues of race and identity — something it will bear in common with the recent Marvel Comics run of Sam Wilson: Captain America, which saw Sam take up the mantle of Captain America.

Set in a world where Captain America is retired and his closest friends, Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), must contend with enemies old and new, the show will center around Sam's struggle to take up the shield that an aged Cap handed off to him at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame.

Spellman especially hopes the six-part series will be a positive force for young Black people in the same way that Black Panther was.

"When you start to see the direct impact that a Black superhero had on my nephew, that’s branded on my brain," Spellman, who is Black, explained. "I believe that Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a nice progression with the mantle that [Black Panther director Ryan] Coogler and Chadwick [Boseman] left us. I really do believe that these giant Black icons are necessary, not only for Black kids, but for white kids to start to absorb — our people as being big and heroic.”

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — which also stars Daniel Bruhl (Helmut Zemo), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter) and Wyatt Russell (John Walker/U.S. Agent) — is scheduled to begin streaming on Disney+ on March 19.