To Better Know A Hero: Falcon

FalconOpen Real Name
Sam Wilson

First Appearance
Captain America #117, September 1969

Nicknames and Aliases
Snap Wilson, Blackwing, Blackbird.

Powers and Abilities
Falcon possesses the ability to communicate telepathically with his trained falcon, Redwing, and with other birds as well, enabling him to see through their eyes, access their memories and, to a limited extent, control their actions.

He is also a highly skilled falconer and trainer of wild birds, as well as a gymnast and hand-to-hand combatant, having received extensive training from Captain America.

Gadgets and Accessories
Falcon wears a high tech harness that enables him to fly. The harness generates holographic hard light wings, which can also be altered into a variety of different configurations. He also wears a “talon”, a grappling hook-like device built into his gauntlets.

Friends and Allies
Redwing (his trained falcon), Captain America (both Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes), Black Widow, Sharon Carter, Nomad, D-Man, Jim Wilson (his deceased nephew and sometime-sidekick of the Hulk), the Avengers, SHIELD.

Foes and Antagonists
The Red Skull, Baron Von Strucker, Batroc the Leaper, prejudice and bigotry, the Secret Empire, Crossbones, Dr. Faustus, Arnim Zola.

Movies and Appearances
Falcon appeared in the 1990s era Avengers: United They Stand cartoon, as well as the more recent Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. He serves as the POV character in the current Avengers Assemble cartoon.

KEY ART

Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, makes his cinematic debut in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Mackie

One Sentence Origin
Introduced to Captain America as part of a villainous plot, Sam Wilson trains with the Star-Spangled Avenger and becomes his partner, eventually gaining the ability to fly via an advanced mechanical harness and fighting crime as the high-flying Falcon.

Memorable Moment
Avengers #181, March 1979 – Falcon is made a member of the Avengers by order of their government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich, who demanded their roster included at least one African-American member.

Fun Fact
Falcon’s ability to telepathically communicate with birds was once attributed to his being a mutant; that was later retconned, and these powers are considered to have been give to him via the Cosmic Cube by Red Skull, as part of a plot against Captain America.

Austin’s Analysis
Like his fellow MCU and Captain America: Winter Soldier co-star Black Widow, Falcon is that rare Marvel character with a long, storied history who nevertheless has never had his own series, despite, in his case, being something a trailblazer. Along with Black Panther, Luke Cage, and Blade he is one of Marvel Comics’s four highest profile black characters, and though he has the distinction of being Marvel’s first African-American superhero (Black Panther, who debuted before Falcon, is from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, whereas Falcon comes from Harlem), unlike the others, he’s never had his own series. He did, however, co-headline Captain America’s book for most of the 70s, operating as Cap’s partner, a relationship that continues to this day and makes his role in Winter Soldier an obvious one.

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Following his stint as Captain America’s partner, Falcon eventually was placed on the Avengers by their government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich, in an act of government-mandated Affirmative Action. Falcon bristled at this tokenism, and quit the team at the first opportunity. During the 80s, he returned to a semi-regular role in Captain America, standing by Steve Rogers as Rogers gave up the Captain America identity in the face of governmental control and formed a small band of like-minded crimefighters with Falcon.

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Falcon eventually returned to the Avengers of his own volition, first as a reservist in the early 90s and then as a more prominent and active member in the 00s, even teaming up with his old nemesis Gyrich to foil a plot of the Red Skull. During this time, he once again headlined a series with Captain America, a short lived spinoff that ended (along with Falcon’s regular role in the Avengers) after the Avengers’ roster was shaken up and transformed into the more Justice League-style New Avengers (featuring a line-up consisting of Marvel’s most popular heroes).

From there, Falcon resumed a supporting role in Captain America’s regular series, becoming a recurring character in the wake of Captain America’s perceived death following Civil War and a mentor to the resurrected Bucky Barnes after he took up Cap’s mantle. Falcon, who relative to many of the other Avengers, is low-powered (his most used ability – flight – coming about via technology rather than super powers), fit easily into the more espionage-themed stories being told by Ed Brubaker during his run on Captain America, a role which, like his longtime partnership with Cap, makes him an easy fit for and welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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