How The Falcon Came To Be One of My Favorite Heroes In The MCU

When The Falcon was announced as being part of the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I was giddy with excitement. He is one of my favorite characters in Marvel Comics. Not going to lie either, I enjoy him because he is a black supehero as well. Though he was Captain America’s partner, he had his own gimmick. He also had a convoluted origin in the comics and no doubt that they were going to change that. Anthony Mackie was announced as playing the character and this was good news as he was a talented actor who has yet to get his break.

When we first meet Sam Wilson in The Winter Soldier, he is jogging around the capitol while Steve Rogers aka Captain America outpaces him numerous times. Sam takes it all in jest as he knows who Rogers is. The two quickly bond over their shared military background and hint that both suffer from some form of PTSD. Sam revealing he works at the local VA and is a counselor for traumatized soldiers. This is the first person that Steve can relate to since being unfrozen in the 21st century.

So when Captain America and Black Widow come knocking at his door for help, he immediately jumps at the call. Earlier mentioning that he flew but not in a pilot sense. The bond between Sam and Steve is infectious as they are relative strangers but immediately trust one another. This is solidified when Cap has to jump off of a flying carrier with no parachute with only the belief that Sam will catch him, which he does.

This scene also illustrates Sam’s skills. We see him dodging aircraft missiles and outmsarting gunship pilots. Captain America is a super soldier but all Sam has is a jetpack. By the end of the movie, Steve is out to search for his wayward friend, Bucky and tells Sam that he doesn’t have to help him. Sam knows this and really has no reason to do so but does so anyway. A perfect coda to end the movie and solidify the friendship and trust between the two.

Only making a cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Sam is seen at a party hosted by The Avengers. Still trying to get Steve into having something of a personal life. He is seen once again at the end of the movie as part of the new Avengers team. No doubt Captain America and Black Widow vouching his spot on the team. I was giddy seeing this as his absence in the movie was unexplained. There are certain tells that say he wasn’t supposed to be part of the movie but was added in reshoots. It was unexpected to see how the character become so popular because of The Winter Soldier.

Next appearing in an extended cameo in Ant-Man. This one was unexpected as I had no idea going into the movie. This movie really showed how you can put The Falcon in any MCU movie. Also showing how he has improved as a superhero. He’s not shocked when he sees Ant-Man’s size changing abilities. He also adapts pretty well to their fight even though he ultimately loses. This could have been a one off gag but plays off in Falcon’s next appearance in Captain America: Civil War. But he is the key player who brings Ant-Man in that movie as he was the only one who knows him.

Now Falcon is a certified superhero and has increased tech to even the playing field. Not only does he have his jetpack with wings, but now missile launchers and a drone dubbed Redbird which is used for scouting and offensively in a manner of ways you wouldn’t expect. The wings also come equipped in a way that they can be used as a shield. We see he and Cap have the best rapport with one another as they even have team up moves. The plot of the movie forces them to become fugitives on their quest to find Bucky which they ultimately do. Sam is the only openly cautious around Bucky and never forgets to remind Steve about this fact. Showing that while he more than likely sides with Steve, he is a man of his own opinion and not just following along.

During the climatic battle between the two teams of superheroes in the movie at the airport, Sam once again shows just how he has improved as a superhero. He is frequently squaring off against other heroes who outclass him. Spider-Man is a bonafide metahuman with increased strength and durability, Iron Man and War Machine are two heroes in walking weapons of mass destruction. Though most of the heroes on Cap’s side get captured, Falcon is the only one who manages to get away along with Cap and Bucky. Ultimately getting captured after War Machine suffers an injury and Sam shows genuine concern for his comrade but is taken out during this moment of vulnerability. Once again showing that he is a person who even though he disagreed with War Machine earlier, he was still a teammate and didn’t want him getting hurt in the manner that he did.

During his final scenes in the movie, Sam is locked up along with the rest of the heroes who sided with Cap. The prison that they are in is less than ideal. In fact when confronted by Tony Stark, Sam equates him to Mark Fuhrman, the police officer who was a center of attention during the OJ Simpson trial…one who was noted for his racist tendencies especially towards blacks. Sam ultimately tells Stark about where Cap is headed as he does want the best for his friend who he knows is not necessarily in the right head space at the moment. Once again showing that he is not blindly loyal to Steve but still loyal. In the final moments of the film as the heroes are being broken out of prison, Sam is the first one that Steve breaks out. The two sharing a smile with one another.

Sam Wilson has shown in his many film appearances that he is a valuable player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is a best friend of Captain America yet he is his own man. He can be serious when he needs to be and silly when he doesn’t have to be. He has his own opinions and will voice them. He has compassion even for people that may have tried to kill him in a previous movie or someone he was just fighting against just a few moments before. Sam Wilson is currently Captain America in the Marvel Comics universe. At this track, it would not be hard to see this Sam Wilson wielding the shield at one point.

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Black Superheroes in the MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an example of an amazing feat. When it was first announced that Marvel was going to be creating their own independent studio in the mid 2000’s and featuring characters that they still had the film rights to but characters that were not as well known, many were skeptical. Fast forward a few years and now Marvel is a household name and all of the studios films have been successes. However there has been a common criticism since the beginning and that has been the lack of diversity.

There has been a notice of how many movies feature a lead who’s played by a “white guy named Chris”. The lack of people of color has been one of the main criticisms. While the character of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, first played by Terrence Howard and then Don Cheadle in subsequent films, has been there since the first Marvel Studios film, “Iron Man”, many have noted that since the recasting he is simply just there most of the time despite becoming a full fledged hero in “Iron Man 2”. It is noticeable that in “Iron Man 3” that he is rarely in his suit at all in the movie instead other people use it more than him. Also his character was absent during “The Avengers” and not even given a mention as to what his character was up to.

In the “Thor” film series, there are two noticeable people of color and that is Heimdall played by Idris Elba who is a black man and Hogun played by Tadanobu Asano who is Japanese. While the character of Hogun has always been depicted as non-white and clearly influenced by Mongolian culture, many took ire with the casting of Elba as Heimdall. These characters noticeably get not much to do. The character of Heimdall is a guardian who watches over Asgard so he somewhat understandably does not interact much but even when there are situations for him to participate in, he does not appear. Hogun appeared as much as the other members of The Warriors Three in the first film but when it came to the sequel, he was written off at the beginning of the movie and only makes a quick cameo in the end.

Things began to change within “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with Anthony Mackie playing Sam Wilson/The Falcon. The character has been a noticeable supporting protagonist of Captain America since the 1960’s and he is notable for being the first mainstream African-American superhero. In this film, Wilson is the first character that the audience sees and also gets the last line of the movie. While he is still a supporting protagonist to Captain America, he still has his own thing going on. Captain America depends on him just as much as he does on Captain America. It was noticeable as to how little the character was featured on advertisements before the movie’s release. However once the film was released, Mackie proved to be the ensemble darkhorse as his portrayal was beloved and notable.

By the time “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released; Cheadle, Mackie and Elba reprised their roles albeit in smaller roles. Elba is nothing more than a cameo. Mackie is given two scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end. One gets the sense that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the film at all but due to his popularity and the criticism of how Cheadle wasn’t in the first film, he was added to the film. Cheadle gets the largest screen time but is still only in a bout three scenes but at least his character gets to partake in the final battle, somewhat. The real life issue of the lack of diversity within The Avengers team is addressed in the film’s final scene.

Now “Captain America: Civil War” was announced, it was always assumed that Mackie would reprise his role in the film considering his status but there was also a notable addition and that was Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/The Black Panther. The Black Panther is notable for being the premiere black superhero as his character is a genius/super athlete/king from a fiction country in Africa that has never been colonized. These two were in the movie and then when the cast was fully announced it was stated how Cheadle would be in the film as well.

During the same press conference where “Civil War” was announced it was also announced that Black Panther would be getting his own movie as well in 2017 and then pushed to 2018. This is important as he is the first black character from Marvel Studios to get his own film since the company’s first film in 2008. That would make it ten years and many have been clamoring for the character to get his own film and Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, always dodged and gave a myriad of reasons as to why the character wasn’t getting his own film.

Now with the Black Panther character being introduced in “Civil War” and even earlier references to his fictional country of Wakanda and arch enemy Klaw being in “Age of Ultron”, it seems that Marvel is taking many steps to make sure the character works by the time his solo movie arrives. But “Civil War” is important as it features probably the three biggest black Marvel superheros, barring characters who are part of the X-Men and cannot be used, in one film. The plot of the film will feature heroes taking sides of Captain America and Iron and it’s not hard to guess as to who’s side The Falcon and War Machine will take in the film and Black Panther playing a certain x-factor in the mix. Also worth mentioning is the character of Luke Cage, notable for being the Hero for Hire, getting his own self  titled Netflix series following a series such as “Daredevil”.

While it has taken some time and there is still much work to be done, Marvel Studios has been making an effort to diversify its lineup. It has not been perfect and there could be much more work to be done but there is an effort being made. We will see how diverse the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be in another ten years.