What *does* it mean for a Black man to become Captain America in 2021?


WandaVision is getting all the attention right now, but don’t forget Disney+ has plans to drop Marvel TV series until the sun burns out. Next up on the docket is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise the two title roles, and while the first trailer landed with a bit of a boring thud in this writer’s humble opinion, I still think it’s got a chance to take the MCU in some interesting places. Helping my doubts a good deal are these recent quotes from series composer Henry Jackman, who teased some timely themes.

Talking to FilmSpeak, Jackman hinted at the “less comfortable things” The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will address:

“Having six hourly episodes, that’s more real estate than one of [the films],” said Jackman. “There’s a bit more opportunity to go into psychological drama and explore backstories. And in this particular series, there’s very much serious issues, now more than ever, about what it means to hold [Cap’s] shield and what kind of a person should ultimately be holding that shield, and with the history of this country, and how African Americans would feel about being Captain America or not. It’s still entertaining, but it touches on less comfortable things that give rise to some really impressive performances. It’s a great balance of entertainment and writing [centering] around more weighty issues.”

Not that I expect this Disney+ Marvel series to be the next When They See Us, but I’m glad the show at least has plans to address the elephant in the room. Anyone with two working eyes and an internet connection could tell you why it’d be a major misstep to have a Black man—in this case, Mackie’s Sam Wilson–just unquestioningly and happily throwing on red, white, and blue and calling himself Captain America. It’ll also be interesting to see how this ties into Wyatt Russell‘s U.S. Agent, who is typically portrayed as being the Captain America for America’s worst people.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to premiere on March 21, 2021. For more on the series, here is what Daniel Bruhl told us about returning as Civil War villain Zemo.

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It will be interesting to see how this plan changes the distribution landscape.

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