‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Reminds Us That Black Superheroes Need to Fly Solo

Here’s hoping Anthony Mackie and crew can soar with it

Seve Chambers
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readMar 19, 2021

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Photo: Marvel Studios

At the end of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, an elderly Steve Rogers passes his mantle as Captain America to his trusted comrade, Sam Wilson. This exchange is more than just figurative; Rogers entrusts Wilson with his iconic shield.

Forged with vibranium from the nation of Wakanda, the shield would now belong to someone whose ancestors were taken from the same continent centuries ago. It was not the only moment within Endgame where a Black hero replaced a White predecessor — the film functioned to resolve multiple disparate storylines and launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) into a new narrative phase — but it was the most significant. As the original Captain America’s arc came to an end, a new one entered the spotlight. For the audience, it was a long-overdue gesture of Black superhero representation.

Sam Wilson, better known as the Falcon, made his cinematic debut in Captain America: Winter Soldier. For years he existed alongside Captain America as his counterpart — essentially the norm for Black superheroes. Save for Black Panther and his fellow Wakandans, sidekick status has been all but the default for Black characters in the MCU. War Machine, Monica Rambeau, Baron Mordo: the list goes on.

That’s all expected to change with the arrival of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+. While it was intended to be the first original MCU series on the platform, Covid-related shooting delays meant that Wandavision beat it to the punch. Still, the new series is an ambitious effort by Marvel, especially with all a Black Captain America represents now.

The series will draw inspiration from a recent comic arc wherein the original Captain America was forced to retire, and Falcon picks up the shield. As Marvel’s first African American hero within Marvel — Black Panther is technically African — Falcon’s promotion represented a pivotal moment that stemmed from a more significant attempt to diversify the comics.

Falcon has existed within the comics since 1969, often used in the early years to address racism with a comic spin. During this time, he was shown fighting White…

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