On Friday, Falcon and Winter Soldier introduced fans to America’s first black captain. After just two episodes, the series is already pulling at the threads of identity and legacy. Isaiah Bradley must have made a strong impression because his voice filled the old Baltimore hall in the last episode. More importantly, the very clean super soldier provided an accent that was sorely missed in the first installment of the Disney+ series. The funny thing is that sometimes you have to choose and sometimes you don’t. But the actions people choose are determined by their environment.
For Bradley, the question of identity is much more difficult than for the heroes of the modern MCU. He met the Winter Soldier in 1951. Today, the war veteran has spent some time in South Korea and not Nazi Germany like his counterpart in the comic, but his scars remain. Bucky tries to lighten the mood as he confronts some of his past. But Bradley never lets him go.
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)
The veteran blames Sam’s friend for taking a piece of his arm when so many people were trying to take him down. You can feel the contempt in every statement Carl Lambly makes. Isaiah Bradley is not at all interested in James Buchanan Barnes. And why would he do that? We see that one tool of Western power has been pardoned for his crimes, while the other has served 30 years in prison and lives anonymously in Baltimore.
It’s easy to see why Bradley can be a bit of a boor against a calm and physically tender Bucky, who can now set his own course after all this time. When the former Winter Soldier says he’s no longer a killer, it takes everything an old man can do to keep from throwing the can against the wall. (He’s always messing around, trying to internalize the super-soldier serum coursing through his veins).
When Super Soldier whispers: Maybe that’s how it really works for people like you ….. This is a sobering statement. Bucky seems convinced it’s people dealing with HYDRA, but Sam seems like a bystander who could be a little more skeptical, in my experience. The myth of the self-made is something very dear to American culture. But a large part of the population has no access to the red thread of this new identity.
(Photo: Marvel Studios)
For Sam and Isaiah, the roles you get can seem pretty difficult. (Yes, even in a world where aliens, androids and wizards roam among us). You can wear a Captain America helmet or fancy Iron Man glasses, but in Falcon and Winter Soldier, the racial characteristics that have colored Wilson’s experiences thus far haven’t exactly disappeared. This is true in real life and in this fictional story. Still, Marvel seems to be moving towards a story where you can choose how you want to shape your legacy and experiences.
Sam Wilson made it clear in Falcon and in the first episode of The Winter Soldier that it was his decision to donate Steve Rogers’ shield to the Smithsonian. One of the most memorable moments in Man with the Stars is when Bucky Barnes and Falcon sit across from each other during therapy. Sebastian Stan brings some emotion when he asks Wilson why he gave up the beacon. This is a painful subject for someone suffering from phantom limb pain. Bucky’s appalled: If Captain America was wrong about Sam, he might as well be wrong about Bucky.
Maybe it was the right thing to do, maybe it was the wrong thing to do. (At this point, it looks like Steve chose Sam to replace him, as Bucky has quite a wheelbarrow of demons to deal with before he can effectively function as Captain America.) By placing this agency in Sam Wilson’s hands, he may be jeopardizing Bradley’s legacy as a black super soldier. Interestingly, this gives the Falcon a chance to make the right move with the Buckeyes as well.
(Photo : Marvel Studios)
John Walker also seems to be trying to get into some sort of role. Our new Captain America seems to have a bit of a performance drive when it comes to filling those big boots. He finds comfort in his good friend. But one wonders if the pressure will be too much for him. In The Man with the Stars, Walker tries to emulate the good-natured purity that Chris Evans has made his trademark, with mixed results by the end of the episode. It seems you can’t imitate the role of Captain America even if you know how to use a shield.
Between Battlestar telling the new hero that he can’t handle his own problems anymore and Walker recruiting Cap’s former henchmen, there will be some reversals of choices and roles. (This is a good time to note that the framing of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier is pushed back by the idea that the two men are merely assistants to Rogers.) When Bucky and Sam decline his offer to work together, the captain decides to threaten them anyway, something his predecessor would not have done at this point. Black Widow warned Cap about brute force in Civil War, and it remains to be seen if Walker will learn the same lesson.
(Photo: Marvel Studios)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier turned the main theme of the series around by Isaiah Bradley in part two. This is the story of Captain America and who will claim the shield. But a closer look also makes you wonder if people like him can choose their own path. For someone who was Cap before Rogers took the shield in the comics, it may be too late. But Sam Wilson still has the chance to write his own story for this new world they find themselves in. The real test will be whether he can lead anyone else down this path of transformation in a way that helps him.
Tony Stark once said that everything special about Captain America came from a bottle. Sam Wilson will be the Captain America who will prove him completely wrong.
What did you think of Isaiah Bradley’s performance? Do you think choice and legacy are the main themes of the series so far? Tell us about it in the comments!
frequently asked questions
Who’s the black Captain America?
In Starry Sky Man, Bucky takes Sam to Baltimore, Maryland, where they meet a man named Isaiah Bradley, played by actor Carl Lambly. In the comics, Isaiah was known as the first black Captain America in the 1940s.
Who is the black man to whom Captain America gives his shield?
Falcon (Samuel Thomas Wilson) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was introduced by writer-editor Stan Lee and illustrator Gene Colan in Captain America #117 (September 1969) and became the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics.
What makes Captain America so special?
He didn’t appreciate my genius and tried to deny me what was rightfully mine, but he gave you everything. So what made you so special? Steve Rogers/Captain America: Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.
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