The first African American hero and the second person to work side by side with Captain America and the longest one to work with him. Not only working side by side with but sometimes taking the mantle on himself. Sam Wilson has been flying to the rescue for years now and went from Falcon to Captain America. He can even communicate with birds! How does he do that? Let’s find out!
Samuel Thomas Wilson was born to Paul and Darlene Wilson in Harlem, New York and had a loving childhood. His father was a minister and both his parents would instill the desire the help others in him. While he was devastated by the loss of both parents to street crime within one year of each other, Sam would dedicate himself to social work to help those around him. He would travel to Exile Island to help the people their fight for their freedom.
While at this island he would meet Captain America and his B.B.F.F. (Best Bird Friend Forever) Redwing the falcon. He’d also unfortunately meet the Nazi supervillain Red Skull who would use a Cosmic Cube to mess with Sam’s mind to make him believe he had fallen to despair with his parents’ deaths and become a criminal who went by Snap Wilson and was made virtuous once more to betray Captain America at Red Skull’s whim. When the time came though, Sam would be able to refuse the power of the Cosmic Cube and stay alongside Captain America. To help the people of Exile Island, Sam would take on the masked identity of Falcon at Captain America’s suggestion to give them a symbol to rally behind.
Once Exile Island was freed, Sam would learn he had a mental bond with Redwing and the two could communicate and that Sam had similar connections to all birds. This seemed to be a side effect of the Cosmic Cube and Sam was now effective king of the birds and a good friend to them all. Sam would continue to work with Captain America and begin meeting other superheroes, one such individual was Black Panther who believed Sam deserved to live up to his name and had his people build a flight harness with wings. Sam now could join Redwing in the air and be Cap’s eye in the sky for fights.
His skills and abilities would get him brought into the Avengers but Sam would be weary when it seemed like he may have been a diversity hire and would leave when that was proven true when the government was involved. Sam would frequently side with Captain America when he’d come to disagreements with the government which would have him leave behind the title. Sam would still often stay alongside whoever would take on the mantle of Captain America to mentor them. He’d rather the person who carried the shield had some of the ideals he fought for.
Sam working alongside whoever took care of the shield was put to the test when the recently deprogrammed from being a Russian assassin, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, the former sidekick of Captain America from World War 2. Bucky and Sam would butt heads due to both being former partners of Steve Rogers but each appealing to different aspects of his own personality. Sam would learn that for however much he’d viewed Steve as reckless, he now understood he was just the shadow of chaos that was Bucky. Where Sam and Steve worked together with mutual looking out for each other, he found himself feeling more as a babysitter at first. Soon, the two realized they could be friends and teammates and we’re just as good a team as each was with Steve.
Eventually, Steve would return and take on the mantle again for a time but even that wouldn’t last long as he was effected by the loss of the Super Soldier Serum causing him to finally age to his appropriate chronological age. When this happened, Steve would ask Sam to carry on the mantle and shield, much to many racists’ chagrin. From the get go, Sam dealt with the media putting him on blast while he tried to help as many people as possible. His team, the Mighty Avengers would do their best to help folks with all kinds of problems but things were made difficult when Sam and several other heroes were changed into greedy and cruel individuals for a time.
To make matters worse for Sam he and Steve would disagree over how S.H.I.E.L.D. was handling things thus it looked like Sam was going against the very ideals of Captain America himself. Sam would leave S.H.I.E.L.D. after helping them weed out a Hydra infiltration of their own team. He’d set out as a Captain America of the people along with Misty Knight and D-Man, helping those who would directly contact him. It would be through this system he’d meet a genetically modified young man who was given Falcon powers and wings, making him his new Falcon partner and the name he’d used for many years. Eventually he and Steve would make amends and Steve would return to his younger age, Steve still wanted Sam to be Captain America. As of this writing, Sam is still Captain America.
There you have it! Sam Wilson has been one of my favorite characters since I was a little kid. The power to fly and talk with birds seemed so neat. Sam had his past recently retconned, he used to actually be Snap Wilson, the criminal but had that made into a false memory to reinforce Sam’s a good person and strong willed. Sam became a big hit when he made his cinematic debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He’d even get Redwing in Captain America: Civil War but as a drone he controls instead of as a bird friend. I hope his new friendship with Ant-Man means he could get a modified device that let’s him communicate with birds. Maybe in the next Avengers. See you next time!
Captain America #117
Captain America: Sam Wilson
The Mighty Avengers Vol. 2
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers