You can now watch Avengers: Endgame at home, and again ask the question: “How come Sam got to be Captain America instead of Bucky?”
It was a reasonable question. After all, Captain America went to a ton of trouble, including fighting with his fellow Avengers, to save and rehabilitate his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), also known as the Winter Soldier. The effort seemed worth it because he turned into a valuable ally in the Avengers’ fight against Thanos.
None of this was to say that Sam/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) wasn’t deserving. He had also proven himself as someone who always had Steve Rogers’ back, from the time just before Bucky resurfaced. But Steve and Bucky had all that history. What gives?
The Russo brothers explain the choice
A quick recap: At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers went back in time to put those troublesome infinity stones back into their proper places. When he came back he was an elderly man, having retired and spent his life with Peggy Carter. In one final official act, he turned over his shield to Sam, who was humbled and grateful.
Bucky didn’t put up a fuss, but some fans did. Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, the directors of Avengers: Endgame, explained their choice to Yahoo at the recent San Diego Comic-Con.
“We wanted to make sure that we gave it proper thought in terms of who would move forward,” Anthony Russo said.
So how did that “proper thought” lead to Sam?
“It seemed really appropriate for the connection that Cap and Sam had,” Anthony Russo said. “Ever since they met in [2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier] there seemed a very common bond between the two characters in terms of their military background, their humility, their sort of commitment to serving. It just seemed like that would be the person Cap would entrust.”
Was Bucky even considered?
That’s not to say the choice of Sam was automatic. Bucky was indeed thought to be a logical successor until logic dictated that maybe you don’t give the Captain America shield to the guy who killed Tony Stark’s parents after Tony had just taken the ultimate sacrifice for the team.
“We had the conversation, but … we try to logic it out and sit in the room and talk through what makes the most sense from an arc standpoint and from a logic standpoint, and Sam made the most sense,” Joe Russo said.
Anthony Russo explained to BuzzFeed: “I think the real attraction between Cap and Bucky is that their relationship — they started more as opposites, and that’s how they complemented each other. Whereas I feel like Sam and Cap are more kindred spirits. Also — this is important — Bucky has a damaged mind…I don’t know if you want to give another weapon to that guy.”
For their parts, Stan and Mackie agreed with the decision.
“It makes no sense for [Bucky to be Captain America]. Why would you give it to the guy that’s been trying to have a whole new history outside the thing that he’s been trapped by?” Stan said.
“And,” Mackie added, “we’re only one movie away from [Bucky] trying to kill everybody.”
When will we see the new Captain America?
We don’t know when we will officially see Sam wield the shield. There was no Captain America movie announced for Phase 4, but there is a series called The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that will air on Disney+ in the fall of 2020.
According to Screen Rant, that six-episode series will take place after Avengers: Endgame, and the titled heroes will take on Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), who was pulling villainous strings in Captain America: Civil War. There will also be conflict over Sam taking the shield, supposedly because the government in its infinite wisdom doesn’t want that.
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