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6 new TV shows and movies on Disney Plus, Netflix and HBO Max to watch this weekend

new TV shows and movies to watch this weekend: Falcon and Winter Soldier
(Image credit: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios)

Spring arrives this weekend and with it, fresh new TV shows and movies hit major streaming services. The big players — Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max and Hulu — all have something new to offer for your at-home entertainment, including yet another face-off between Marvel and DC. 

Yes, two long-awaited projects from the comics giants are here: the Justice League Snyder Cut and the series Falcon and the Winter Soldier. That they’re both dropping almost on top of each other is likely to fuel the fan fire between Marvel-ites and DC-heads. 

If you’re not into superheroes, there’s plenty of other great options. The third season of NatGeo’s Genius puts the spotlight on the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. A much-needed comedy special from Nate Bargatze drops on Netflix, while Stanley Tucci wraps up his dreamy Italian adventure. And the indie rom-com/surreal thriller Happily teams up two of our favorite actors. 

Here are our picks for what to watch this weekend.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Episode 1 starts streaming Friday, March 19 on Disney Plus
The “buddy cop show” pairing Captain America’s besties, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), was meant to be Marvel’s first Disney Plus series. It looks and feels like an MCU movie, just cut up into episodes and streaming on a smaller screen. Instead, the pandemic pushed the already-completed WandaVision into pole position. Will Falcon and Winter Soldier seem a little less interesting because it’s coming on the heels of that genre-mashing puzzle-box success? Perhaps. But it could also serve as a refreshing change of pace, the kind of action-packed popcorn fare we’ve all been starved of these many months. TGIF is rapidly transforming into “thank goodness it’s Marvel night.” Check out our Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 1 review to learn more.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Streaming now on HBO Max
Behold, the Snyder Cut in all its (four-hour-long) glory! The fans stormed social media for it, and what the fans want, they often get — though in this case, they may have gotten more than they wished for. Snyder fans will be happy that the director got to carry out his initial vision for Justice League, which includes more of, well, everything. While Warner Bros has declared the Snyder Cut isn’t canon, its release could have a great impact on the future of the DC Extended Universe. And at the last, it cements HBO Max’s ascendant place in the streaming landscape. Check out our Zack Snyder's Justice League review to learn more.

Genius: Aretha

Part 1 airs Sunday, March 21 at 9 p.m. ET on NatGeo
All four parts start streaming next day on
Hulu
NatGeo’s anthology biographical series kicked off by delving into the mind of Albert Einstein, then painting a portrait of Pablo Picasso. Now, it’s paying some R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (played by Cynthia Erivo). The eight-episode biopic, divided into four parts, chronicles how the daughter of a preacher man became an icon. Like previous seasons, the show toggles between flashbacks to young Aretha (Shaian Jordan) belting out hymns in her father’s church and the adult singer navigating the music industry, racism and sexim in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The production design is top-notch, but it’s Erivo’s uncanny performance that brings Aretha alive again.

Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American

Streaming now on Netflix
Craving stand-up comedy? Yeah, same. The pandemic has decimated live entertainment events — no more concerts, plays or comedy gigs. Some performers have gone the route of Zoom, while others fled outdoors. Comedian Nate Bargatze chose the latter to film this special, so he naturally opens it with a bunch of Covid-related materia. Mostly, though, Bargatze delivers his usual dryly funny observations about the foibles of regular shmoes just like himself — and every joke, even the ones that don’t quite work, feels like a gift. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Happily

Starts streaming Friday, March 19 on VOD
This dark romantic comedy borrows a page from The Twilight Zone to tear down the facade of the “perfect couple.” Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé play Tom and Janet, who are still blissfully happy — and horny — after 14 years of marriage. Their friends in less idyllic relationships find them insufferable. Then, a mysterious stranger (Stephen Root) shows up to offer Tom and Janet a serum that will turn them into a “normal couple.” From there, things take a dark turn as all the friends gather for a weekend getaway, where Tom and Janet realize the stranger isn’t the only person trying to wreck their marriage.

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy

new TV shows and movies: Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy

(Image credit: CNN)

Season 1 finale airs Sunday, March 21 at 9 p.m. ET on CNN
When you can’t travel to Italy, the next best thing is watching Stanley Tucci do it. Tucci became a quarantine sex symbol thanks, in part, to an alluring video of the actor making a cocktail. He graduated to a lushly-filmed docu-series about his trip through Italy, from the Amalfi Coast in the premiere episode to Sicily in the finale. Along the way, he’s met with chefs, historians, winemakers and local experts. And, of course, he’s eaten very, very well. We can only dream of the day we can follow in his footsteps.

What to watch this weekend: ICYMI

Last week dropped gems you might have let slip past you. Here's what you shouldn't skip:

Operation Varsity Blues (Netflix)
The headline-generating college admissions bribery scandal gets the documentary and re-creation treatment from the producer of Tiger King. So, you know it’s juicy. 

Generation (HBO Max)
A sort of cousin to HBO’s Euphoria, this HBO Max original follows hashtag-happy teens who are coming of age in the social media era. They deal with all sorts of issues, including sexuality and bullying.