As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier spreads its wings and takes flight, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already shaping up to be a crucial stepping stone in the world’s highest-grossing franchise. The first episode wasted no time in reestablishing Falcon as the potential successor to Captain America, expanding Bucky Barnes’ troubled past as the Winter Soldier and confirming the legacy of Steve Rogers still looms large over the MCU.
While the premiere rounded off with the reveal of Wyatt Russell’s John Walker as the “new” Captain America/US Agent, there was another future favourite hiding in plain sight. Away from Cap’s square-jawed replacement, the introduction of Danny Ramirez’s Torres looks like he could be the next character to take on the mantle of the Falcon.
In the comics, the character Joaquin Torres takes over from Sam Wilson as Falcon, and while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s debut doesn’t confirm his first name, we’re betting he’s being measured for his own set of wings.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier threw Torres straight into the action as an Air Force lieutenant and comrade of Sam Wilson. Taking the law into his own hands, Torres investigated the Flag Smashers and was badly beaten while trying to uncover the truth. It looks like the underground group could be leading toward Daniel Brühl’s return as Baron Zemo, but for the time being, the various storylines of Falcon and the Winter Soldier are miles apart. Now, the sidekick of Steve Rogers has just found a sidekick of his own.
In the comics, Joaquin Torres suited up as Falcon after Sam Wilson picked up the star-spangled shield as the next Captain America. It’s unclear whether Sam, Bucky, Walker, or someone else will be Captain America by the time the final credits roll. Anthony Mackie has played coy on whether Sam will change his mind and accept his Captain America destiny, but if he does, it would neatly leave room for Torres to be Falcon in Phase Four and beyond.
First appearing in 2015’s Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, Joaquin Torres was a young Mexican who moved to America and used to leave food and supplies in the desert for struggling migrants. It was here that he landed on the radar of the racist Sons of the Serpent group. Joaquin’s grandmother asked Captain America (who was Sam at this point) for help, but by the time Wilson found him, he’s been turned into a human-bird hybrid by the Sons of the Serpent. Sam’s Falcon partner Redwing has been used to modify Torres’s genetics, which left the junior Captain America feeling guilty.
Torres’ new-found abilities included a pair of actual wings, talon-like hands, and a psychic link to Redwing. Because of Redwing’s own vampiric tendencies, it meant Torres picked up some of these aspects and gained regenerative abilities. In the MCU, things are a little more grounded, so we don’t imagine Torres will be sprouting a pair of wings during the six-episode series. Added to this, the MCU’s version of Redwing is a flying drone rather than an actual bird, meaning Torres’ story won’t play out the same way. Then again, the idea of Torres being a vampire would tie The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to Mahershala Ali’s debut as Blade – albeit in a very tenuous way.
Much like how WandaVision introduced Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau and cued up her heroic future as Photon, Ramirez’s ongoing role as Torres could have big implications for the franchise’s future. With continued rumours a Young Avengers movie is on the way, a potential roster is shaping up nicely. We already saw WandaVision gift us Wiccan and Speed, Avengers: Endgame teased Cassie Lang’s role as Stature, Hawkeye has Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, Armor Warsis bringing Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams to the fold, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees the arrival of Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez. Even if Torres’ Falcon isn’t a member of the Young Avengers in the comics, his arc can easily be tweaked to usher in the next generation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
With critiques the MCU was dominated by the white male lineup of Phase One, the franchise is doing everything in its power to diversify as it moves forward. Alongside all of the above, introducing a character like Torres – with a Columbian/Mexican American like Ramirez in the role – is another move in the right direction. In terms of where Torres’ story is heading, the surprise cameo of Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes could see a crossover with Armor Wars, where Torres makes use of some handy Stark tech.
Either way, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier probably won’t be the last time we see Torres. As long as Torres doesn’t have his wings clipped and kick the bucket before the finale, this is one character who’s destined to continue soaring in the MCU.
By Tom Chapman | Digitalspy