The price of freedom is high, it always has been. And that’s the price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, so be it. – Steve Rogers.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have used these words in trailers for the series, while Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson reflects on the character’s legacy by recalling Steve Rogers’ speech in Captain America: Winter Soldier, who was brought to the crib by John F. Kennedy. It’s a new day in the MCU, and Sam is understandably confused about how to move forward with this legacy. Yet as America’s black captain, Sam is not the first time a black man has held the star-studded shield in a country that has not always been hospitable to people who look like him. Years before Sam or Steve escaped the dance, a man named Isaiah Bradley took a leap of faith. He was America’s first black captain, and his entire crew paid the price for freedom in his country. In episode 2 of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the tragic story of Isaiah Bradley and America’s black captain collides with a wondrous cinematic universe.
Right: Red, White & Black is a 2003 limited edition written by Robert Morales and signed by Kyle Baker. In seven issues, they tell the story of Bradley and how he became the first Captain America. Marvel editor Bill Jemas commented on the black version of the character, after which editor Axel Alonso was given the task of developing it further. Early on, the creative team and company felt that the best way to continue the story was to use a historical allegory and an event that people might not be familiar with: The Tuskegee study from 1932.
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)
For those unfamiliar with this part of American history, in 1932, as part of the Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in a black man, a surveillance program was conducted on 600 black men under the guise of treating the disease. 399 of them had the disease and the researchers told them they were being treated to eventually cure them. However, the research would take 40 years, although penicillin became a common drug for the disease in 1947. Many of them will die, and the real social awareness of the situation will not appear in the media until 1972.
One of the most common comments about the super serum that gave Steve Rogers his powers is that scientists at the time would never have tested it on the man who would become Captain America. Although this was an undesirable experiment for a soldier of the time, it is logical to assume that the doctors responsible experimented on black subjects first. This directly affects Bradley’s experiences in the book as he is subjected to experimentation by his 299 fellow soldiers.
Despite the horror of seeing all of his teammates meet a sad end far from their surroundings, Bradley is determined to accomplish his mission. He watched his friends at Camp Cathcart in Mississippi being mistreated and literally beaten by other officers. There was the torture, the families of soldiers who were told they had died in a training accident, and the overt racism they were fighting against. Despite this, he fights his way home as Captain America and even wears the suit himself.
When you go home, there is no gratitude or job well done. Instead, Bradley remains in prison and spends 17 years in solitary confinement. The Super Soldier is court-martialed and locked up in the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. As if that weren’t enough, the serum has consequences that severely limit Bradley’s cognitive function. Despite all this, he remains physically intact, despite his deteriorating mental state.
The black community treats him like a hero. He’s something of an urban legend for young black heroes, and that’s how Steve Rogers eventually gets to know him. The Captain America we all know is touched by this sacrifice and appalled that no one informed him of Bradley’s existence until the 2000s. The hero is always excited to meet another Captain America. Nothing makes up for this abuse and mistreatment. All Steve can do, ironically, is make room for him in his own way, as living proof of the ideal he has worked for all his life.
It is also important to note that Bradley was not given the title of Captain America when Rogers gave him the suit that was thought to have been lost during the war. Instead, the exchange reads like someone stumbled upon the package and returned it to its original owner – with a sly, nostalgic note about how the dream is starting to get a little old after all these decades.
Despite these comments, Bradley is a true icon who gives everything to help a country that has tried to sabotage what he holds dear. His wife lives and thrives on a strong support system. In this regard, America’s Black Captain is living proof of the words Rogers spoke in The Winter Soldier: Altruism, even at the expense of oneself. Sam Wilson becomes America’s first black captain on screen, but learning the history and figuring out how to continue Roger and Bradley’s legacy will be the biggest challenge for Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
We don’t know if the MCU fits into our reality. But if, in Sam Wilson’s world, there is a Tuskegee trial or a super-soldier trial that has caused all the suffering of black soldiers, it would probably shake his heart in a way that Rogers could not understand. Yes, Steve has fought Hydra, aliens, and even Iron Man when he saw fit. But what does history look like when the lines are not so sharp and drawn. How would Steve react if at the beginning of the civil war it was not the people of Lagos who were affected, but American citizens? One of Sam’s biggest challenges will be maintaining the balance he needs as a legendary hero in his own right.
Falcon faces a challenge that his predecessor Black also faced. For some, they will never be Captain America. The commanders laugh at the Bradley Regiment when someone pretends to be concerned for their welfare. The text says they are more upset about a soldier stealing a uniform than they are about the possibility of losing a super soldier. It’s also odd that much of the dialogue about the Falcon and the Winter Soldier was about the disk-shaped piece of vibranium, rather than the person wielding it.
If the MCU series really wants to live up to the TRUTH, it needs to be about what the characters can actually do. In the hands of a minority hero, can this shield still be a force for justice? Sam Wilson probably thinks so too, which is why he turned into a pile of dust after Steve Rogers’ intervention. But Falcon will learn some of the same lessons Bradley learned decades ago. These wounds are still deep, and they have been allowed to fester all these years. The only way to really heal them is to let them out into the daylight. For Sam and for the MCU, this is the best way forward.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier begins on Friday the 19th. Mars on Disney+.
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frequently asked questions
How did Falcon become Captain America in the comics?
After Rogers became an old man, he appointed Wilson his second officer as Captain America. … After the defeat of the Snake Society, Captain America allows Joaquin to become his sidekick, allowing him to become the new Falcon.
Who is Captain America in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
It’s time for the world to meet our new Captain America. The first episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended with a cliffhanger that introduced John Walker (Wyatt Russell) as the US government’s choice to wear a shield and suit in honor of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).
Is there a black Captain America in the comics?
In the comics, Isaiah was known as the first black Captain America in the 1940s. … The series revises Isaiah’s origin to fit Bucky’s story. Isaiah, now advanced in years, met Bucky as a winter soldier brainwashed by the Hydras during the Korean War in 1951.
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