With the first season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier concluded, fans are now looking back over the entire series and digging into its story. Some viewers have argued that the show saddled its villains with vague motivations, and never fully explained why the so-called “Flag-Smashers” were so adamant that they needed to destroy the GRC, or even who they were fighting for in the first place. The general confusion about their storyline has even sparked a theory among some fans that the show — which was mostly filmed in late 2019 and then finished last summer after the pandemic — was rewritten in part because of Covid.

As the theory goes, Falcon and Winter Soldier was supposed to feature the Flag-Smashers threatening to start a global pandemic. As the theory goes, Marvel had to drastically rewrite the show after it was mostly in the can, which explains why some of the stuff with the Flag-Smashers felt so fuzzy and unfinished. But according to the show’s director, Kari Skogland, that theory is simply not true. In an interview with Collider, she explained that while things did change on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier when they resumed production during the pandemic, nothing was altered as drastically as an entire subplot getting removed. As far as any sort of pandemic having been planned, Skogland said “you can debunk that” theory for good.

Skogland said that the actual changes were limited to “small character tweaks”:

We had discovered that we really wanted to know Karli a bit more. So I think we added a scene between her and Dovich, where they got to just talk about what it was like to take the serum. I wanted to feel them and their history just a little bit and get a bit more inside how they were thinking and feeling in that moment. So it was small things like that where we were able to kind of sharpen our pencil. But in terms of the big themes that we were already talking about, we were absolutely just on the same track.

Based on that quote, it sounds like Marvel recognized that the Flag-Smashers weren’t fully realized in their first version, and that they did try to beef them up a little with more scenes about their backstory and motivations. It’s also possible that the pandemic and Covid safety precautions made it impossible to shoot the crowd scenes that would have helped explain the Flag-Smashers’ role show the followers they were fighting for. (Skogland notes that the one big crowd scene in the show, in the Madripoor dance club, was filmed back in 2019 before Covid.) Whatever the reason, the show would have definitely played better with more clearly defined bad guys.

The full season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available now on Disney+.

Gallery — The Biggest Unanswered Questions From the Falcon and Winter Soldier Finale:

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