Since the ending of Avengers: Endgame, fans have wanted to see Sam Wilson fully embrace his new role of Captain America. Recently, however, actor Anthony Mackie has confirmed that won't exactly be happening. In Marvel's The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series, he will remain the Falcon, even if he does now wield the iconic shield.
Not going forward with "Captain Falcon" is a definite misstep for Marvel, especially after teasing it in the studio's biggest movie yet.
CAPTAIN AMERICA'S LEGACY
While plot details for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are still scarce, the recent casting of Wyatt Russell as U.S. Agent provides some hints. Given that character's usual role as a more brutal, dark reflection of Captain America, it'd be the perfect narrative opportunity to have Sam take up the moniker. By taking on his friend's role as Captain America, he would be defending the legacy against being tarnished by the likes of U.S. Agent.
U.S. Agent will probably also be created to fill the "need" for a Captain America in the post-Endgame world. The plot could then easily write itself, with U.S. Agent having the appearance/powers of Captain America, but not the heart.
Sam would then step up as the true successor to Steve Rogers. This would also make sense given that Falcon was Captain America's partner, going on as many, if not more missions with him as Bucky ever did. Who better to fill that void than the man who had stood by his side until the end?
SAM WILSON ALREADY HAS THE SHIELD
There's also the very obvious problem of Marvel essentially promising viewers Sam Wilson as the next Captain America. Not only would this fulfill what was shown in Endgame, but it would also cast a black man as one of the Marvel Universe's biggest icons.
The positive politics of this is obvious, and it would feel like a cheat to simply drop the thread entirely. On top of that, Anthony Mackie confirmed that he has worn a new Captain America suit tailored for him. Is his lack of taking the name a smoke-and-mirrors diversion, or have plans changed?
If it's the latter, than why would he still go by Falcon if he openly uses the shield? It's simply too expected at this point to not follow up on.
The new costumes shown in the show's first poster are also a step in this direction. While Falcon's new color scheme is more than likely based off of his costume in the comics, it could easily be made blue, resembling his costume in the comics when he was Captain America. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and not Marvel simply running away from what its already set up.
A HERO REBORN
While using a previous hero's name might go against the intent to forge a new path for the universe, it might be the right amount of familiarity needed. Moviegoers will be introduced to The Eternals and Shang-Chi, two concepts that both differ greatly from what has come before, and that are relatively niche to even die-hard comic book fans.
Thus, someone becoming a new Captain America would, along with the upcoming sequels for Thor, Dr. Strange and Black Panther, maintain a level of comfort for fans who might begin easing in interest. Since Falcon already has the shield, why give him the name, too? The MCU needs some sense of legacy, if for nothing else than to maintain Feige's claim that "it's all connected."
Having Sam wear a new tailor-made Captain America suit throughout the series would also be an easy way to garner potentially uninterested viewers, especially given the fact that the show is being released on yet another new streaming service.
While Marvel fans may already be interested in the service because of that, they'd be sure to give it a go just to see Captain America in action again. This would be true no matter who is under the mask. Given how little has been revealed of the Disney+ series so far, fans will have to wait to hear the justification for keeping Sam Wilson out of the official Captain America role.
It's very possible that, if the show gets a second season, Sam will take the title at a later date, perhaps after he feels more worthy of carrying such a weighted mantle -- especially one that belonged to an old friend. Or perhaps this is all just a marketing ruse. As of now, it comes across as Marvel backing away from a black Captain America, despite clearly setting it up.
KEEP READING: How the MCU Failed Its Captain America Characters