He’s gone by a lot of names lately: Sam Wilson. The Falcon. In the comics, Captain America. Also, Gabby’s Future Best Friend. All right, that last one is made up, but my point still stands: Sam Wilson is the real MVP, and I’m consistently surprised by how underappreciated he is as a character.
I admittedly don’t know much about Sam in the comics — the most I’ve seen him in action is Captain America vol. 5 and the current run where he is Captain America. But in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he quickly became one of my personal favorite characters. His cameo in Ant-Man was one of my favorite parts of the movie, and I have high hopes for him in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
Long story short: we’re lucky to live in a time where Sam Wilson exists.
Not much is officially known about Sam in the MCU. We know he joined the United States Air Force and became a pararescueman, where he was a test pilot for the EXO-7 Falcon suit that he now uses as a member of the Avengers. As far as anything before that, though, we’re left in the dark. You can fill in the gaps for yourself, of course, especially if you know Sam from the comics.
But still, that doesn’t detract from how great a character he is.
For one thing, he has such a refreshing attitude when it comes to being a superhero. A lot of the times in superhero movies, there’s a growing period with the character: ‘Do I become a superhero?’ ‘What does that mean for me?’ ‘How will my life change as a result?’ ‘How will the people around me be affected?’
But with Sam, it’s all or nothing. He lives and breathes being a superhero. He doesn’t even question Steve and Natasha when they come to his place for help taking down S.H.I.E.L.D. His only response is, “Captain America needs my help. There’s no better reason to get back in.”
That’s all it takes! He jumps right back into the game after that, and he’s pretty much a non-stop force until the movie ends.
Sam Wilson was born to be a superhero. Instead of making an attempt at living a normal life, especially post-war and especially after having lost his best friend in combat, he gets back up and dives back in. And it’s not easy, as the climax of Captain America: The Winter Soldier attests to: it’s tough. It’s dangerous. There’s people shooting at him constantly. He has to dodge missiles in the air, and then put up with Brock Rumlow’s ugly mug soon after.
What was that fan-favorite line Steve said in the first movie? Oh, yeah: “I can do this all day.” Sound like anyone else we know?
It’s no wonder Sam became such an integral part of Team Cap in Winter Soldier so quickly. He fits so well with the determination, perseverance, and good will that the rest of them embody, and he genuinely wants to help people — not for the fame or the money, but because it’s already a part of him: to do what he can for others.
Before getting caught up in the Steve-versus-S.H.I.E.L.D. drama, he was working at Veterans Affairs, helping former soldiers cope with civilian life. He understood their pain, their loss, and their struggles, so he could identify with them and lend a hand in a more personal way. Even when he catches up with Steve after a meeting, the two of them are able to relate to one another despite the time era differences because some feelings — loss, pain, guilt — are universal. And even in this moment of mutual understanding of each other’s losses, Sam still manages to joke with Steve and pass some smiles around.
In short: being a superhero didn’t make Sam Wilson a good person, the way it happens to some characters. Sam Wilson was already a good person.
Gabby Taub, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a recent graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading, writing, watching TV, and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore.