Avengers: Endgame Spoilers ahead…
The Captain America ending in Avengers: Endgame is something not many saw coming. Cap goes back in (alternate) time to return the Infinity Stones, decides to grow old with Peggy Carter before finally returning to the prime timeline. But it’s what happened next that split the internet. Steve Rogers passes his shield to Sam AKA Falcon, dubbing his comrade the new Captain America.
Some people (myself included) love this decision; many others feel that Steve Rogers’ lifelong best friend Bucky Barnes should’ve been the one to pick up the mantle instead, citing how Bucky was featured more prominently than Sam in the comics as a version of Captain America. In an interview with ComicBook.com, one of the directors of Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo explained their decision to go with Sam.
“Cap and Bucky are brothers but you know what’s interesting about them is that they’re very different people and I think that Bucky always has the ability to have his mind corrupted, it can always be taken over by someone else. That hasn’t been resolved for him and Sam has his free will and I think that Sam also had a similar ethic as Cap as far as service goes in the military.”
Joe Russo also talked about how Sam has always been about helping the community.
“Sam still retains that spirit of service to the community and he lives in that circle very clearly in the movies. Comic books and movies are very different and our interpretation of the characters, if you’ve been following the movies, are very different from what the books are so as it stands in these films, Bucky is still a damaged character who I think feels like he doesn’t want the shield and I think that ultimately Sam is a character with free will who is the closest in morality to what Cap was and Cap believes he deserves it.”
Joe Russo discussing the difference between the characters in the comic books and the movies stands out in particular. I think as fans, we often make the mistake of bringing with us into the cinema whatever information we learn from comics or novels. And when what we see turns out to be different from the source material, we throw our fists in the air angrily.
But what we need to remember is that these movies/tv shows are ADAPTATIONS of beloved source materials and not exact replicas. What we need to ask ourselves is if certain decisions that are made in the films make sense within the confines of the films themselves. Are they true to the characters that are presented in the films? Do they follow the rules set up in the films? As opposed to evaluating whether they contradict the source materials.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we learn that Sam Wilson is a former United States Air Force pararescue airman who retired from active duty after his good friend and partner Riley died in the field of battle. But even after the traumatic incident, Sam never quit helping people. We first meet Sam at Veterans Affairs, helping his fellow veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which mirrors Steve Rogers running a support group in Avengers: Endgame for people suffering from the mental trauma Thanos’ snap has caused.