For those of you still reeling after the events of Avengers: Endgame (which could potentially mean anyone reading this post), it’s easy to understand the confusion about some of the movie’s events. From Natasha dying despite having a film being released in 2020, to Professor Hulk having his right arm permanently damaged, to Hawkeye seemingly going into retirement once again (that is, until his rumored Disney+ series is confirmed), and to the painful death of Tony Stark, there’s a lot to consider for the status quo of the MCU going forward.
One aspect of the movie that hasn’t really been discussed so far is Sam Wilson’s conversation at the end of the film after Steve Rogers decides to have some peace and quiet after years of war and conflict. Something that Steve Rodgers had wanted before heading into the ice after the events of his debut film in the cinematic universe. He’s even referenced it himself in Age of Ultron during his farewell to Tony Stark, who also seemed to be retiring in a way of his own after the movie’s events:
Seemingly referenced in the above video was Steve’s confession that he’s changed since living in the simpler times. The man who wanted a family and stability has been replaced by a dutiful Captain that wanted nothing more than to serve a rightful cause. Leading up to that point and the years after, Steve Rogers certainly fulfilled that duty. He’s lived through a lot of events that weaker men couldn’t handle and not only saved the world countless times since awaking from his seventy year slumber, he’s saved the universe with the help of the Avengers. No one could blame Rogers for wanting the simple life that he’s missed out on. What better ending could he have than completing one final mission then heading back to where he belongs? As many of you remember, Steve was tasked with bringing all the Infinity Stones back to their rightful place to prevent creating new timelines and disrupting the events unfolded during the events of the film. Instead of meeting at a certain location to be brought back to 2023, Steve decided to miss the rendezvous point and instead lived out a quiet life with the woman he was always meant to be with, Peggy Carter. While it’s unclear if Daniel Sousa exists in that timeline and his role is unclear. Daniel Sousa is assumed to be Peggy’s husband in the MCU. He had a prominent role on the Agent Carter series and during an old interview that Steve was watching, Peggy had stated that during Steve’s heroic mission to save the POW’s from an internment camp, he had unknowingly saved her future husband. The main assumption is that Steve had gone back to a point in time where Sousa and Carter hadn’t been married yet and seemingly pushed Sousa out of the picture.
Back in 2023, Steve had been waiting on a bench while the Avengers present at the rendezvous point had been arguing with each other wondering why Cap hadn’t returned. That is, until they noticed an elderly man sitting on a bench outlooking a large lake. Bucky and Sam approached the elderly man and audiences soon saw that it was Steve Rogers, now approaching the end of his lifespan. What happens next is important: Bucky stops right before approaching Steve and nudges Sam to go forward. Sam approaches Rogers and start discussing how life has treated the Captain. Steve mentions how life went well and how he’s settled down with an unnamed wife he refuses to tell Sam about. He then pulls out a shield (different from the one destroyed during the final battle with Thanos) and hands it to Sam. While Sam seems confused at first, Steve re-assures him that it’s time to pass the mantle and chooses Sam to be the next Captain America.
While a lot of audience members might feel like this was the wrong choice considering Bucky was being groomed to replace Cap in the unfortunate event of his death or retirement, there was a lot of factors that ultimately made Sam Wilson the better choice, weird facial hair or not. Sam Wilson first met Steve during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier who took his morning jogs at the same location Steve did and worked as a guidance counselor at the Veteran’s Association, helping army veterans cope with their feeling of guilt and any possible trauma they suffered while serving their country. Since then, he’s come out of retirement to fight with Steve as Falcon, an experienced pilot with a weaponized exosuit that came with wings and Red Wing, a personal AI assistant.
Bucky, on the other hand, experienced a similar experience to Steve up until he was awakened from the ice himself. After becoming the face of Hydra throughout the years (decades, even) and building up an impressive kill count, he had grown tired of war and headed to Wakanda after the events of Civil War for refuge and cleansing of any Hydra brainwashing still present within him. The White Wolf had grown tired of war and was actively avoiding it unless it involved the Avengers and more specifically, Captain Rogers. Although he has redeemed himself in the eyes of the Avengers, he is still known as the Winter Soldier to the public especially after being framed for the UN bombing that was the catalyst for the events of Civil War. While it is unclear if he has cleared his name publicly, it wouldn’t be the greatest idea to be presented as the new Captain America to citizens of Earth.
Sam, however, is seemingly unknown to the public. The only information known about him publicly would be his war record (easily accessible by the public) and his role in the events of Civil War. Although he was technically a fugitive for a period of time for siding with his friend instead of the government, I’m sure many fans of Captain America and those involved would understand why Sam Wilson chose to disobey federal orders. This could be his redemption arc in the eyes of the government considering he chooses to cooperate with them going forward.
Another reason why Sam was the logical choice was from a character standpoint. While Falcon has shown up in a few movies now, his origin story and base lore have not really been fleshed out. Considering the amount of characters and his late inclusion to the MCU, fleshing out his character amidst the Civil War/Infinity War saga would’ve felt more like a distraction instead of a proper introduction. Being the new Captain America automatically thrusts Sam into a more central role in the MCU which allows Marvel to properly explore his background and show more of his personality going forward. Although no movies have been confirmed for Sam, it’s safe to assume Anthony Mackie, a talented actor, will be a regular face in future phases of the MCU.
With Marvel opting into inclusion and being more diverse in their future movies, this was definitely a no-brainer. With movies such as Shang-Chi and more female-led movies being rumored for the MCU, putting Sam into one of the most important roles has proven Marvel’s dedication for inclusion of people of color in their cinematic universe. Sam will definitely be given his chance to shine on the big stage and in his new role fairly quickly, with a Disney+ series already confirmed to be in development. While it’s unsure if we will see Falcon don the stars and stripes going forward, the future of Marvel is bright with the weight of expectations falling onto Sam’s shoulders.