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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shuts down production over coronavirus concerns

The escalating pandemic of COVID-19 just breached the defenses of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Apparently even Bucky Barnes' super-soldier physiology wasn't up to the task of fending off the disease, because Disney and Marvel's streaming-bound series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was forced to halt production this week over growing concerns about coronavirus exposure in the Czech Republic.

According to Deadline, the production only recently moved to Prague, and was scheduled to conclude the eastern European leg of filming in about a week. Unfortunately, Disney and Marvel Studios decided to cut those plans short as the Czech government began to increase containment measures with a rash of school closures as well as restrictions on travel and public events. Not wanting to take any chances with the actors or crew members of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney and Marvel halted production and sent everyone back to Atlanta, even though the team was only days away from concluding their work in Prague.

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, which originated in to the Wuhan region of China in December 2019, has world governments on high alert. Major countries including the United States, Italy, China, and Iran have already experienced severe outbreaks of the potentially deadly disease, and epidemiologists are pushing social distancing measures to help slow the spread. Disney's drastic move comes out of an abundance of caution. Reps from the actors — namely leads Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan – have yet to issue any specific statements related to the coronavirus, but it's not believed that anyone from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has tested positive for the virus.

The coronavirus is causing disruptions throughout the entertainment industry

That makes them luckier than some. The entertainment industry took notice this week after Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for COVID-19 while Hanks was filming Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Elvis biopic in Australia. According to CNN, the two Hollywood royals are currently receiving treatment in isolation, and their condition is not considered life-threatening. Given the tight working conditions on a movie or TV set, it's likely we haven't seen the last of these infections or cancellations.

Actor Sebastian Stan, who plays Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. The Winter Soldier), took to Instagram to weigh in on the abrupt production halt. In a caption below a beautiful evening landscape of the city of Prague he wrote, "Prague. What a city. We've been shooting #TheFalconAndTheWinterSoldier and experiencing one of the most beautiful cities in the world filled with the most wonderful and welcoming people. Now we are being sent home. Too soon. Prague, you're gonna be in my thoughts for a long time. Thank you. Will be back. Thinking of you. #BuckytakesEurope." 

While his message didn't include any encouraging information for fans hoping to peg a timeline to the resumption of filming, we can all appreciate Stan's generous sentiments for the hard-hit city that's played host to the Falcon and Winter Soldier production team for the past few days.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has contended with unforeseen complications before

This isn't the series' first brush with Mother Nature. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier previously had to scrap plans to shoot several scenes in Puerto Rico after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake rattled the island's southern coast, causing severe damage and limiting the capacity to host the production team.

Fortunately, neither incidence of force majeure seems to have tanked the series. Like the majority of COVID-19 patients, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is expected to make a full recovery. No news on whether this production halt will even impact the planned August release on Disney+. As reported by Deadline, the production team hasn't been disbanded but rather summoned back to Atlanta to continue working, so hope springs eternal that they may still find a way to bring their efforts to the small screen on time.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's scheduled August bow was supposed to be the first MCU release on Disney's new streaming service. It was set to be joined later in the year by several other high-profile projects — including Loki starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye series, and the eccentric-looking WandaVision featuring Paul Bettany's Vision and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and will deal with Sam Wilson's succession as the new Captain America. Considering the meticulous planning that goes into maintaining continuity within the MCU, let's hope this latest disruption doesn't mess too much with Disney's order of release.