Director Kari Skogland is a little relieved to have her Disney+ series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” completed — now she can actually talk about its complexities free from the fear of spoiling anything. “Obviously with any creative project you never know how it’s going to land,” Skogland mentioned in an interview with IndieWire. The present’s themes, together with racism and systemic inequality, have been all the time going to be robust for a Marvel collection to deal with, however Skogland is glad on the finish of the day.
Skogland believes that with the one-two punch of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests of the final yr the collection solely turns into extra poignant. “From very early on we were in this conversation. We were in a racially charged, emotional conversation about not just racism [and] intolerance, but justice and elitism,” she mentioned.
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Having Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson give a speech in regards to the function of presidency was one thing she and head author Malcolm Spellman have been adamant to incorporate as a result of it was not possible to tie up the story with a neat bow. “Anthony was very much a part of that end speech which opens the door to discussion,” Skogland mentioned. “You’ve got the power now. What are you [the government] going to do with it?”
All of the characters, based on Skogland, showcased totally different sides of the heroism and villainy that makes up the world. Erin Kellyman’s Karli Morgenthau, chief of the novel group the Flag Smashers, was meant to indicate how a radical is born. Sam’s ultimate speech, Skogland mentioned, bridged the hole between each characters. “It was important to me that, on the hero side of it, [Sam] understood that what she was talking about was valid,” she mentioned. “I feel like [Karli] had her moment of redemption when she said, ‘I’m sorry.’ She understood that, even on her death bed, she got it wrong.”
The collection’ shifting take a look at heroes and villains manifested most overtly with John Walker’s (Wyatt Russell) tackle Captain America, a personality that drove vehement dialogue on social media. Skogland mentioned when the collection began, Walker as a personality was unrendered, which means they weren’t positive how a lot they would wish to experiment with him. Additionally they needed to open the character up contemplating Russell, himself, was so charismatic.
“We went [with] performances across the board until we saw in the post-production process [that] we could hone it in and [then decided] we had options where he could be lighter and where he needed to be more earnest,” Skogland mentioned. He’s his personal worst enemy, she mentioned, a person who will get in his personal means. “He didn’t really get off light in the sense that he is stripped of his stripes, which mean everything to him,” she mentioned. “He’s had to have a very serious reality check on who he is and who he isn’t.”
Factoring in what Walker does all through the collection’ six episodes, it was necessary for him to by no means come off as winking. “He was always trying his best,” Skogland mentioned, which is why his character has an emotional journey illustrating how he’s forged apart by these he respects. The dueling tales of John and Sam, mentioned Skogland, are about taking a look at ego. “Sam doesn’t have a destructive ego and John is ultimately serving his ego,” she mentioned. The query then turns into: The place does ego go in the case of being Captain America — and a hero normally?
Skogland sees the privilege inherent in John’s character, but in addition feels there’s a heavy dose of imposter syndrome she needed to showcase. As John discusses receiving his Medal of Honor Skogland factors out “the gray of it,” which is Walker calling it the worst day of his life. “It looked good and people were saved, but people died,” Skogland mentioned. The director mentioned it’s that imposter syndrome — of understanding he didn’t do all the things he may — that fuels his drive to be Captain America.
That being mentioned, it’s not possible to take a look at all that when seeing that very same character beat somebody to dying with Cap’s defend. “Everybody really wanted it to be as gruesome as we could make it,” she mentioned whereas respecting the collection’ PG-13 tone. Questions have been requested about how a lot blood was an excessive amount of or not sufficient, and Skogland additionally didn’t wish to be too extreme with the violence only for the sake of it. “I felt the way to pull it off was [to] put it in your imagination. It’s all about what we don’t see,” she mentioned.
“It kind of had to be a ballet in John Walker’s head for us to continue this idea of an experiential execution which is what I was going for throughout the series,” Skogland mentioned. “It meant that as he got crazy we want to go in there with him,” using sluggish movement and bizarre angles to spotlight that. “He lost control out of grief but it shows his flaw as a result. It’s his fatal flaw,” she mentioned.
Paradoxically, directing that scene was a badge of honor for the director due to how rooted in actuality it’s. “It’s one thing for Thanos to decapitate someone,” she mentioned. “But it’s another thing for us in our reality-based, very grounded show to deconstruct a hero similarly.” Skogland mentioned from her first assembly on the collection the objective was not simply to take a look at race and the problems inherent in society however encourage dialogue and debate. With that in thoughts, she hopes that audiences take a look at John Walker’s character arc in an analogous method.
However now that she’s launched Sam Wilson’s Captain America, the place does the story go from right here? Skogland mentioned she hasn’t heard something on a doable second season of the collection and whereas there was speak of a fourth “Captain America” entry to be written by Spellman, Skogland is skeptical. “I don’t read the headlines, and I also don’t believe them so I have no idea whether a film is even in the works,” she mentioned.
She additionally hopes that her work on the collection can break limitations with regard to who can inform tales. A director since 1994, Skogland’s work has already damaged the glass ceiling — however she needs to do extra. “I hope that in another way we can move the need to say, instead of being a Black director, or a woman director, or a French director that I’m just a director,” she mentioned. “Because if a woman can only direct women, and men can only direct men, and Black directors can only direct Black actors, then we are missing out on opening up voices to different perspectives.”
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is streaming on Disney+.
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