Captain America 2, which hits international theaters today, introduces us to a new hero: Falcon. Played by Anthony Mackie, the character is new to the Marvel cinematic universe, but an old ally in the Marvel comics. Here’s what you need to know about Sam Wilson aka Falcon.
In the comics, Wilson is one of Steve Rogers’ best friends. After a difficult upbringing that included losing both of his parents, Wilson led a life of crime and became known as “Snap” Wilson, a kind of split personality that sometimes resurfaces. He eventually crossed paths with Red Skull and escaped only with the help of Cap. Before he got away though, the villain used the “cosmic cube,” which we know as the Tesserect, to give Wilson the ability to telepathically communicate with birds.
Doing a mask and suit, Wilson adopts the name Falcon. He eventually flies, thanks to some Wakandan technology courtesy of Black Panther, and is often accompanied by his pet falcon, Redwing. Although he was offered a place in the Avengers, Falcon declined, wanting to focus instead on keeping the streets of Harlem safe both as a social worker by day and crimefighter by night. He remains one of Captain America’s biggest allies and frequent partners.
The character got an upgrade in 2004’s Ultimate universe. Here, Wilson is a former soldier turned research scientist with no special powers. He invents his own wing pack to allow him to fly and works with S.H.I.E.L.D. special ops including teaming up with Captain America and Black Widow. Captain America: The Winter Soldier smashes these two iterations of Falcon together to create the character played by Mackie.
In the film, the two heroes meet while jogging through Washington D.C. They bond first over their shared experiences in the armed forces and then over working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Wilson, an ex-military paratrooper, uses specially designed mechanical wings to fly. (Presumably these are from S.H.I.E.L.D. or Tony Stark but a Black Panther reveal would be epic!) When not in use, the wings retract into a backpack Wilson wears. As code-name Falcon, he dresses in military garb rather than a spandex suit (reflecting his Ultimate comics design) but he still partners up with Captain America and Black Widow as they take on The Winter Soldier and a much larger threat.
There’s no word yet on whether Falcon will pop up in Age of Ultron or any other Marvel movies. For now, catch him in The Winter Soldier, which is already playing in international theaters and hits American theaters April 4.
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