Another successful Marvel show on Disney+ has come to the end with the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming on the platform on Friday, and we have Canadian director Kari Skogland to thank.
In an interview with Yahoo Canada in advance of the series finale, Skogland described the last episode as "very moving," which is very accurate.
It's that balance between the emotional storytelling, important political and social commentary, and the high-intensity action sequences that really made the show work. Skogland said the switch in format for Marvel, from feature films to a six episode, six-hour series, allowed for that more three-dimensional storytelling.
"There are about two or three action sequences per hour, you want to make sure that each one of them has its own story and its own uniqueness," Skogland said. "That's a challenge because it has to carry plot but also carry character so it all adds up, so that your action sequences aren't orphans to the storyline of the characters."
"It is a real...house of cards and you want to make sure you get the pacing and feel of it right."
How Marvel decides what Easter Eggs to include
It's no secret that Marvel fans have picked apart each episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and, frankly, every movie or series that's been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, looking for clues for future content and references back to Marvel canon.
Skogland explained that any callbacks or Easter Eggs come "very organically," it's more about doing a deep dive into the comics and "discovering an opportunity."
"We draw from it like it's a basket but we don't duplicate," she explained. "Which gives you a lot of freedom, therefore, to interpret both the characters and the storylines to fit the story that you are telling."
Skogland said she tries to pay little attention to any of the negative reactions but she has been "thrilled" with the level of engagement that there has been for the series.
"We are talking about some very difficult topics and themes," she said. "The fact that we have this level of engagement where people are maybe polar opposites but they're talking, and that is my goal as a filmmaker always is to set the table, start the discussion and let the discussion go into whatever course it's going to go into."
"The conversation of a Black man picking up the shield was going to open all kinds of doors and then on top of it, the world kind of went through [a] big shift and a conversation on the street level that needed to happen, so we were very relevant to that."
'The most important story of the century'
Skogland revealed that discussions around Sam picking up the Captain America shield, a symbol with a very complicated history that is explored throughout the series, was a story the director was particularly interested to tell, and "overdue."
"When I went and first talked to them I said this is the most important story of the century," she said. "At it's core, it's going to take a look at what is it to be a hero and what is it to be a Black man picking up such a white iconic symbol."
Additionally, the concept of such a large Marvel project being directed by a woman hasn't been lost on the audience and the actors. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Canadian actor Emily VanCamp, who plays Sharon Carter (hint: someone to definitely keep your eye on in the finale), said she felt "very comfortable" with Skogland."
"Having that female energy as well, within a Marvel show, is fantastic. And I think she really brought that sensibility," VanCamp told The Canadian Press. "It was nice to have that sort of comforting presence."
In response to the actor's comments, Skogland recognized that her own style as a director is to make a very safe space for actors to experiment, which she said was particularly good for VanCamp whose character is introduced in a very different way than we've seen Carter in the past, all while Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan also took their characters to new places.
"Emily's a very giving actor...and so, I was really careful about making sure she had her space as well, and her action sequences, I wanted them to be kick-ass and different from the guys," Skogland said. "She probably is speaking to the fact that I was very aware of her femininity and yet, wasn't using that as a trope or a crutch."
'Julia's like a sponge'
One of the biggest excitements of the series is Julia Louis-Dreyfus joining the cast as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, and fans will be happy to know that Skogland was as excited about it as they are.
Dreyfus is not only bringing on a legion of fans from Seinfeld and Veep but introduces interesting future Marvel opportunities with the introduction of her character, also known as Madame Hydra, with a connection to S.H.I.E.L.D.
"What was really fun was helping her create that character," Skogland said. "Julia's like a sponge and so she took this on and she just embodied it, and her natural sense of humour and quirkiness just elevated what anybody could have thought the character could be."
"It's weirdly grounded for this larger than life character... That was all her, she really wanted it to have that whimsy and yet, pack a punch behind it."