Avengers: Endgame brings closure to the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and that means paving the way for new heroes to truly step to the fore. With the Eternals, Shang-Chi, and Black Widow getting their big screen due in Phase 4, not to mention theoretical Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel sequels and a new slate of streaming shows on Disney Plus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to look very different a year from now.
And one of those big changes is all about where Endgame leaves Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, codename: the Falcon.
[Ed. note: This post will contain major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.]
At the end of Endgame, Steve Rogers finally finds his peace. He uses time travel to retire and spend his life with Peggy Carter, growing old by the time he returns to the present in the old-fashioned Pym-particle-less way. And when he gets there, mere seconds after he left, by the perception of the rest of the Avengers, he passes on his shield to Sam Wilson.
Sam Wilson is now the Falcon and Captain America
And that’s a move straight out of Marvel Comics history.
As part of Marvel Comics’ “Marvel NOW!” publishing initiative, several of Marvel’s headlining Avengers went through unexpected and genuinely interesting status quo shifts, leading to new replacements who all had one thing in common: they weren’t white dudes. This is what gave us Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, Robbie Reyes as Ghost Rider, Sam Alexander as Nova, Jane Foster as Thor and, most relevant in a post-Endgame world, Sam Wilson taking up the mantle of Captain America.
Marvel NOW! began with writer Rick Remender, artist John Romita Jr. sending Steve Rogers to Dimension Z, a nightmare world ruled by Nazi-turned-computer-head Arnim Zola. He was trapped there for a decade, and then battled the supervillain known as the Iron Nail, who neutralized the Super Soldier serum in Rogers’ body. That caused Steve’s body to swiftly catch up to his actual age, making him physically to the nonagenarian he actually is. Thus, Steve to a step back from fieldwork to become a tactical commander, and asked his long-time friend, the Falcon, to take up the shield.
From the beginning, Sam-as-Cap was beset on all sides. Both in the real world — where bigoted fans raged and Tucker Carlson got angry at him for fighting the racist Sons of the Serpent — and on the page. In his adventures he dealt with a hostile public; training a Falcon of his own (a bird-human hybrid kid named Joaquin); leading a new team of Avengers including Ms. Marvel, Nova and Miles Morales; and dealing with Kobik, a little girl who, thanks to SHIELD tinkering, is the sentient, physical embodiment of the Cosmic Cube.
Sam’s tenure as Captain America — during which he wore this sweet red, white, and blue winged suit and carried the shield — eventually came to a voluntary, if not exactly happy, end. Rage, a super-strong superhero, had became a supporting player in the Captain America: Sam Wilson comic, where he fought private police force the Americops and acted as Sam’s conscience. Framed for robbery and beaten into a coma by the very supervillains he’d put away in prison, Rage’s struggles discouraged Sam. He resigned as Captain America, returning as the Falcon when Secret Empire and its Hydra-led takeover of the US began.
Now, Falcon-Cap has a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
And he’s getting star billing to go with it.
Earlier this month, Disney confirmed what was long rumored: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan would co-star in a series about the Winter Soldier and the Falcon, distributed on the company’s upcoming streaming platform, Disney Plus. The two have rarely shared screen-time in Captain America movies, but in those few moments the actors have shown an instant comedic chemistry — as they do in Marvel press tours.
There’s very little we know about the series just yet. It’s been understood that the show would be called Falcon and Winter Soldier, but with Sam’s new status quo, that seems likely to change. If Sam’s going to be Captain America now, maybe Bucky would even pick up his Wakandan nickname, the White Wolf.
Whatever the show is called, it could potentially be set prior to Endgame, but given how little time Bucky has not frozen, brainwashed, or snapped in the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s hard to imaging when exactly it would take place. It seems much more likely that this will be about Bucky and Sam and their post-Endgame adventures.
According to Disney, the series will premiere with the launch of Disney Plus on Nov. 12, 2019.