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Here's Why Falcon is the Perfect Captain America

For years fans have speculated that Chris Evans was retiring from his role as Captain America in Avengers 3 or 4 and another actor would take his place. Many fans expected his old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) would take over, but that didn't happen. Sam Wilson is the new Captain America and it makes perfect sense.

Warning: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow

In Avengers: Endgame the team has to do a "Time Heist" and steal all the Infinity Stones from the past. 

In the last moments of Endgame, Steve goes back in time to return the six Infinity Stones. To the surprise of the team, he never returns. As Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon, (Anthony Mackie) look for him they see an old man sitting on a park bench nearby. Turns out Steve had enough of the superhero life and went back in time to live his life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). The life he lost after crashing in the ice and freezing for 40 years in Captain America: The First Avenger. He'd lived his life for over 100 years and waited for them to show up.

Sam goes over and Steve gives him the shield. 
Captain America asks "How's it feel?" 
Falcon says "Like somebody else's". 
"It shouldn't," Steve says. 

And so begins the new Captain America, but was it the right decision?

Who is Captain America?

First a primer about Captain America. Captain America first appeared in is a fictional superhero Captain America Comics #1 (1941) and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. It was published by Timely Comics which eventually became Marvel Comics.

Captain America was the patriotic hero who put Timely into the top rank of comic book publishers. During the war he excelled and, as Jack Kirby's said, he was "the character to win and to triumph over evil. It is a simple formula, but very effective and powerful."

"Basically," says Joe Simon. "we were looking for a villain first, and Hitler was the villain." In fact, the first Captain America cover showed him punching Adolf Hitler in the face.

"Captain America was exceptional, a sellout, says Simon. "We were up to, after the first issue, close to the million mark, and that was monthly." The circulation was and still is an amazing feat for a comic book character and he quickly became a part of pop culture. "We were entertaining the world," Simon said.

The character's popularity waned after the war and he was discontinued in 1950. But Marvel brought him back in 1964 and has been a popular character since.

Who is Falcon?

Samuel Thomas Wilson, known as the Falcon, first appeared (as Falcon) in Captain America #117 (1969). He was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. Falcon was the first African-American superhero in mainstream comic books. He's also the first black superhero not to have the word "black" as part of his superhero name like Black Panther or Black Goliath.

"In the late 1960s [when news of the] Vietnam War and civil rights protests were regular occurrences, and Stan, always wanting to be at the forefront of things, started bringing these headlines into the comics," Colan recalled in 2008 for Marvel Masterworks: Captain American Volume 4. "One of the biggest steps we took in this direction came in Captain America. I enjoyed drawing people of every kind. I drew as many different types of people as I could into the scenes I illustrated, and I loved drawing black people. I always found their features interesting and so much of their strength, spirit, and wisdom written on their faces. I approached Stan, as I remember, with the idea of introducing an African-American hero and he took to it right away. ... I looked at several African-American magazines and used them as the basis of inspiration for bringing The Falcon to life."

The two would quickly become best friends and they even renamed Captain America to Captain America and Falcon in the 1970s.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduced Anthony Mackie as Falcon, a former paratrooper who dons a prototype flying suit. 

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers aka Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films starting with Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

Who Did Dr. Erskine Want for Captain America?

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci)

To figure out why Sam is perfect for Captain America we have to ask someone who thought a lot about it. In the first Captain America movie, we're introduced to Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). He's a German scientist had invented a "super-soldier" serum. To keep the Nazis from getting his work he fled to Switzerland but was forced to develop his serum for the Third Reich.

The first subject was Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) the evil mastermind. Erskine didn't want it to happen again. After he fled to the United States he worked with the US to find a test subject. He had the choice of hundreds of men but chose Steve Rogers. A skinny 4F guy who washed out of every training. Why?

Erskine explained in The First Avenger he was looking for a man of character and not strength.

"So you want to kill Nazis?" Dr. Abraham Erskine asked.
"I don’t wanna kill anyone," Rogers said. "I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from."
"Well, there are already so many big men fighting this war," Erskine said. "Maybe what we need now is the little guy, huh? I can offer you a chance. I am looking for qualities beyond the physical."

"This is why you were chosen," Erskine said later. "Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion."

While Erskine didn't specifically choose someone to become the superhero Captain America he wanted to choose a man who would be the first subject of the Super-Soldier program. He was creating the template for all other heroes like him. He didn't want the strongest man. He wanted the man who knows compassion.

So who did Steve choose? He only had three choices: Bucky, Hawkeye, or Falcon. Why did he choose Falcon?

Why Bucky Couldn't Be Captain America

Even though Bucky Barnes has similar military training as Steve could never become Captain America. It happened in the comics but for a very different reason.

In the comics, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes is introduced as a childhood friend of Steve Rogers who becomes his sidekick. The two are frozen in the ice by Red Skull. While Cap gets revived to return to Captain America, Bucky is found by the Russians. He's brainwashed into becoming the assassin Winter Soldier. Eventually, he gets his memory back and becomes an anti-hero.

"The Death of Captain America" is an eighteen-issue Captain America story arc by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. It follows the climactic "Civil War" storyline and began with the assassination of Steve Rogers. After he dies Tony Stark, now Executive Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., reveals Roger's had written a letter asking him to help Bucky redeem himself after becoming the Russian assassin The Winter Soldier. He also asks that Captain America continue saying America needs a captain. Stark decides to give the mantle of Captain America to Bucky. 

Bucky is the new Captain America and has a new attitude using an armored suit, guns, and a knife. As a soldier Cap had used knives and guns but not as ruthlessly as Bucky. He stayed as Captain America for several years.

Here's the thing though. Steve didn't ask for Bucky to be Captain America. He was ok with it afterward, but it was Tony's decision. So you can't even say that Steve wanted his friend to become the new Cap. He didn't.

In the movies, Barnes has a similar origin. The entire movie The Winter Soldier explains his back story and Civil War expands on how the world now hates him. Winter Soldier committed many atrocities and even killed Tony's family. While Bucky is redeemed in Infinity War and Endgame it's a hard sell to turn a Russian enemy of the state into the Star-Spangled Avenger.

Plus, while Winter Soldier is brainwashed when he assassinates people it's still Bucky in there somewhere. Even he's not sure where the line is. A ruthless murder who kills without compassion could never become Captain America.

Bucky doesn't even want the job. He knew why Steve was there and he told Sam to take the job. So that only leaves Hawkeye or Sam.

Why Hawkeye Couldn't Be Captain America

Avengers: Endgame (2019) - Clint Barton / Ronin (Jeremy Renner)
Clint Barton is a former special agent and master of weapons and archery. He seems like he'd be a good fit as a replacement for Captain America but it would be terrible.

First, after Thanos "snapped" the Infinity Gauntlet Barton's family died. He was so grief-stricken that he took on the name "Ronin" and became a vigilante killing criminals instead of arresting them. Having a cold-blooded killer become Captain America would not be a good look.

Second, he loves his family and already stepped away from the team to have a more normal life on the farm. In Endgame he got them back after five years. There's no way he'd leave them again to become Captain America.

There's no precedent for Hawkeye to become Captain America in the comics or in the movies.

Why Falcon Should Be Captain America

Finally, we have Steve's first and best choice. Sam Wilson as Captain America. 

In 2014’s Captain America #21, Cap lost his powers after the villain Iron Nail stabbed him with a dart that neutralized the super-soldier serum. He quickly turned into an old man. Steve stopped Iron Nail but he realized Old Man Captain America wasn't going to get the job done. He passed the mantle on to his old friend Sam.

In the movie, something similar happened and the choice is the same. But why would Sam be worthy of the shield? Let's look at the man. Then we'll look at the hero.

Falcon first became a soldier like Steve and served his country honorably. He shares that he misses his old wingman Riley who was "knocked out of the sky". Falcon knows the pain of loss but has learned to accept it. Just like Steve has.

When Steve tells him he's going after his old friend Sam immediately volunteers. This is a man he's just met looking for a man he's never met wanted by the police. That kind of trust and loyalty is a rare quality.

Falcon has military training and specialized weaponry and a flight suit. But he's still a man. He fights alongside men with superhuman abilities against enemies that can destroy the universe with a snap of their fingers. He's a brave man. But not reckless.

When told about the adventures he missed he says, "No, I'm not actually sorry. I'm just trying to sound tough. I'm very happy chasing cold leads on our missing persons case. Avenging is your world. Your world is crazy." But the very next moment he's fighting alongside his companions.

Sam Wilson exemplifies everything Captain America is and the ideal. Plus, this awesome fan art by aikoaiham shows what he'd look like.

Fan art of Anthony Mackie as Captain America by aikoaiham 

Diversity Matters

Not everyone is happy with the diversity in the MCU. There have been angry people complaining about a black Viking, a female superhero and everything in between.

But not everyone sees it that way. Some people are happy to see the MCU expand to include more minority views.

"People also ask sometimes about ‘Black Panther,’" Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told the Wrap. "So, the notion of representation on screen, in front of and behind the camera, somebody asked me once, so is ‘Black Panther’ a one-off? I said, no, it’s not a one-off. This is the future. This is the way the world is, and the way, certainly, our studio’s going to be run going forward, because it brings about better stories. The more diverse the group of people making the movie is, the better the stories."

Black Panther proves that when you have more diversity it makes everything better. Black Panther and Captain Marvel aren't just good black or female-led films. They're good movies.

Plus, there's the positive effect that diversity can have on young people. Mackie recognized this.

In the preparations for Infinity War to prevent leaks, different cast members got different scripts. So no one knew what was going to happen. Mackie didn't know hoe to the movie ended until Chris Evans surprised him.

"We were at [Chris'] house and he goes, 'You excited?' And I go, 'What are you talking about?' and he goes, 'You don't know?'" Mackie told IMDb. "He jumps up, runs out of the room and comes back in with the script. We cried. We drank. We laughed. I am very happy I got that moment with Chris, for him to not only pass me the shield but to tell me it was happening.

"It means a lot to me for my sons to see Captain America as a black dude and for me to be that dude to my sons. So that moment was not just, 'Hey, we're acting.' It was more of a thing. And then they cut and I cried. And Chris cried. And the Russos cried. And everyone cried. It was an emotional day."

I have three sons and it excites me to see them excited about black characters on screen. Because I at least, didn't have that. When I was growing up all my favorite characters were white. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's nice that my children can look beyond that and dream.

That's why having a black Captain America matters. It's about a dream. Anthony Mackie is going to embody that dream and that makes him perfect. He's the most worthy, powerful and best choice to take the shield in the MCU.

What do you think of Falcon becoming the new Captain America? Let us know in the comments below!

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