Avengers: Endgame was such a satisfying conclusion to one hell of an era; over ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe bookended with the departure of staple leaders like Iron Man and Captain America. However, the film also planted the seeds for Phase 4, the next chapter of the franchise which is looking to captivate audiences on screens of all sizes. This was especially evident with Old Man Steve Rogers handing over his iconic shield to Sam Wilson, giving him the mantle of Captain America. Or so we thought!
Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson won people’s hearts when we first saw him (try to) race Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel’s second Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will finally provide an opportunity to dive into Sam’s psyche and backstory. We’ve already grown to admire him, but the last two Avengers outings and Civil War were so jam packed that Sam hasn’t necessarily had this kind of spotlight since his debut.
We were privileged enough to participate in the global conference with the cast and crew of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Anthony Mackie answered many intriguing questions on his now seven year journey playing the signature Marvel hero, though he specifically elaborated on Sam Wilson’s growth and why it was the right decision to choose him as the next Captain America…
“The idea of Sam Wilson and the character and the evolution of what’s now known as the Falcon, to be able to go back and dive into his backstory and his family and his surroundings only betters the character for the audience.”
He went on to explain why Sam Wilson is very hesitant to take on Cap’s mantle, despite Steve Rogers himself saying he is the right man for the job…
“Sam says [in The Winter Soldier] When Captain America shows up at your door, you answer. That being said, it’s the pain, the idea of not being able to go on these missions, not being able to help his friend. There’s still people out there that still appreciate comradery and friendship…just like everybody else, you don’t want to see Steve Rogers go away…just like he was your Cap, Steve Rogers was Sam Wilson’s Cap…that’s why he says at the end of Endgame, It feels like it’s someone else’s.”
Marvel’s ventures on Disney+ are all proving to be very distinct from one another, in terms of tone and style. This is largely due to the vast creative pool the studio has pulled from to drive these projects. With WandaVision, it was Black Widow writer Jac Schaeffer and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia director Matt Shakman. Based on the cultural reaction to the show (even people who don’t watch Marvel know about WandaVision), making such an intriguing pair paid off. The studio makes another exciting move by joining The Handmaid’s Tale director Kari Skogland with Empire writer Malcolm Spellman.
It should be noted that a rising Black writer has now taken over the reigns of Sam Wilson’s journey. Studio President Kevin Feige has been making promises of stronger representation behind the scenes at Marvel for years, and it looks like some of those words are finally seeing fruition. Anthony Mackie made sure to express his appreciation for how Malcolm Spellman and the writer’s room approached Sam Wilson’s origins in the show…
“When I first read the script, I was really happy that they acknowledged the fact he’s from Louisiana, specifically, because that’s the best state and New Orleans is the best city in the world. I had one request that if he was from Louisiana that I had to eat crawfish on camera. I don’t know who said no but somebody said no! (laughs) The idea of Sam Wilson, he’s always evolved in the world of the Marvel comic books and now he’s evolved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you remember when Sam first started out, he was a hustler, and as African American culture evolved, Stan Lee evolved him into different iterations of himself.”
The first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is “very grounded and character-focused” while “delivering brilliant action sequences that rival the movies.” Based from what we’ve seen so far, Malcolm Spellman has crafted a narrative that is setting itself up to deliver powerful commentary from a Black point of view. If this is just the next step of Sam Wilson’s heartfelt rise to glory in the MCU, then there’s no telling how many more people the character can reach out to in the years that come. Sam Wilson, slowly but surely, will be just as strong of a household name as Steve Rogers.