History Of Sam Wilson – The Road to Captain America

As a boy, Sam Wilson did not have an easy time growing up in Harlem.  Like many living in this community at the time, it was a tough life mired in poverty, crime, and… grief.  When Sam was only nine, his father, a minister, was killed trying to stop a fight between two rival gangs. Two years later, Sam’s mother was killed by a mugger… only a block from their apartment.  As encounters with racism and the church left him jaded, Sam began a criminal career.  Angry at the world, Sam became “Snap” Wilson – a criminal operating out of Los Angeles.

Snap began working his way up the criminal world, building contacts and becoming a member of at least one gang, before he came across a big job with promising rewards in Brazil.  Flying out to Rio, Snap’s plane crashed on Exiles’ Island, a once peaceful community conquered by a group called the Exiles, who allied with the Red Skull during the Second World War.  Surviving the plane crash, Wilson befriended a falcon named Redwing, and the two developed a strong bong with one another.

sam wilson the falcon

The Red Skull eventually discovered Sam and decided to use the man in his never ending conflict with his enemy – Steve Rogers.  He used the powerful Cosmic Cube to alter reality, and change Sam Wilson forever.  The man was granted a psychic link with bird that, with time and concentration, could give Sam broad power concerning all avian creatures.  He could give them commands, see through their eyes, and work through birds en masse, even going so far as being able to read the minds of the Avian subset of Inhumans.  Initially, and in general, this psychic bond is strongest with Redwing, and the two have worked closely together for Sam’s entire superhero career.

This was not all that the Red Skull did.  Wanting to manipulate the man into serving his nefarious purposes, the villain rewrote Sam’s history as that of a kindly social worker who was lured to this island.  Though Sam’s original memories as a criminal named Snap were later restored, these were recently revealed to also be false memories as a part of the Red Skull’s machinations.  All too willing to use the racist beliefs and behaviours of many Americans at the time, the Red Skull knew he could use these false memories of the Snap persona to easily and swiftly discredit the Falcon as a criminal.  The extent to which the Cosmic Cube has warped Sam’s past at the behest of the Red Skull should not be underestimated.  Whatever actually happened in Sam Wilson’s past, the original, true history of the man, may never be known.  What is known is this – the Red Skull wanted a close ally for Captain America he could use to hurt the hero.

While the villain failed to fully corrupt Sam Wilson, he was successful at inadvertently creating one of Captain America’s closest allies.  The two met on Exiles’ Island, where they worked together with the natives of the land to free the small land.  Returning home, Captain America helped Sam create a superhero persona of his own, and thus he became the Falcon.  With the help of the Black Panther, Falcon had a special harness built that allowed the hero to fly.  Steve then trained Sam in multiple forms of martial arts and brought the man to peak physical human condition.  Sam also master acrobatics, gymnastics, and his own training with his harness to create a unique form of aerial combat.  Wilson became one of the best aerial combatants in the world, exceeding the ability of other flying heroes such as Iron Man and Ms. Marvel.

Together, Steve and Sam became close friends and superhero partners, working closely together on many missions.  Not knowing his memories were false, Sam got a job as a social worker, while he and Cap worked at the street level to defend Harlem from threats both inside and out.  They had many adventures together during this time, developing trust and confidence in each other while Sam began slowly building ties with other members of the superhero community.  His nephew, Jim Wilson, would sometimes work as Hulk’s sidekick, until the man succumbed to HIV and sadly died of AIDS.  At one point, when Captain America was thought dead, Sam took on the mantle in his name, becoming Captain America for the first time, and to date, is the only black man to have ever officially become Captain America.

When Rogers was revealed to be alive, he resumed his role as the Falcon, and they continued working together, often confronting issues and threats such as racism, gang violence, drugs, and other problems plaguing Harlem.  He and Cap would come into conflict with various villains, including Harlem crime bosses such as Stoneface or Morgan.  When Steve eventually abandoned the Captain America and became Nomad after becoming frustrated with the United States government.  This time, Wilson opted not to become Captain America, instead mentoring a young man named Roscoe Simons, who had taken on the name of the famous superhero.  Sadly, this did not last long, as Roscoe was tragically killed early on in his superhero career by the Red Skull.  Not long after this, the Red Skull revealed his tampering with Sam Wilson’s memories, and tried to use him to finally kill Captain America, but this plan ultimately failed.

Falcon continued his superhero career with distinction, and was invited to join the Avengers.  This initial invitation was not sincere; however, as government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich forced Falcon to join the team to fill a mandatory racial quota.  Sam resented this, viewing himself as a token figure on the team, and he quit at the first opportunity.  Resuming his life as an independent hero working on his own and with Captain America, as always.  This friendship was tested when the Scarlet Witch went insane and attacked the Avengers via various means.  Her manipulations nearly drove the two apart and cause Sam to briefly abandon his role as the Falcon.

Wilson resurfaced during the events of the first superhero Civil War.  Seeing his best friend in trouble, Sam was the first hero to join with Cap, working against Tony Stark and his allies throughout the war.  At the end of the war and with the public death of Steve Rogers following the man’s arrest, Sam registered with the government and was given control of Harlem as its superhero protector.  However, not forgetting his friends that stood with Captain America and have since gone underground, Wilson secretly maintained contact with the fugitive heroes that took up the team name of the New Avengers.

Now a firmly established, respected superhero in both the public’s eyes and within the superhero community, Sam began working with many teams for the public good, while his powers began improving and growing in strength.  The false memories of the Snap persona were revealed, and, thanks to the constant willingness for Steve Rogers to stand by and advocate for his friend, along with the gradually improving racial attitudes of America, meant that the Red Skull’s attempts to discredit Sam Wilson had failed entirely.  Extending his reach beyond Harlem to deal with larger threats to the entire planet, Sam began working with other teams more often, briefly joining an incarnation of the Heroes for Hire, working with the X-Men, and on various rosters and versions of the Avengers.

In a battle with Armin Zola, Captain America was deprived of the super soldier serum that had powered his entire superhero career, and was aged into an elderly man almost instantly.  Still remaining an important figure in the community, but far weaker than he was as a young man, Steve Rogers gave up his role as Captain America and appointed Sam Wilson as his official successor.  Sam Wilson thus became Captain America once more, a role he continues to serve to this day.  Mastering use of the iconic shield and gaining the famous aptitude Steve Rogers always displayed with it, Sam integrated the shield into his own aerial fighting style, becoming a powerful and capable superhero.  Donning an upgraded uniform that relied on holographic wings and vibranium armour, Sam’s powers and abilities significantly improved.  The role put him front and center in the superhero community, and as such, many young heroes have begun to look up to him, just as Steve Rogers did before.  In that regard, he has become a hero and a legend on the level of his closest ally, friend, and confidant.  And nothing will stand in the way of that friendship.

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