4 Falcon And Winter Soldier Stories Marvel Wants To Forget About
With Captain America's two bestest buddies finally getting their own show, we decided to celebrate the only way we know how: by digging through their comic book history in search of stupid crap. And, boy, did we strike gold this time. Just like WandaVision failed to acknowledge Wanda's babies turning into demon hands, we're betting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier probably won't go anywhere near moments like ...
Marvel Once Retconned The Falcon Into A Drug-Trafficking Pimp
When Sam "Falcon" Wilson first showed up in Captain America #117 (1969), he was just a cool dude with a falcon who happened to live in an island where Cap was being hunted by Nazis. In that issue, he explains that he's a social worker and bird enthusiast from Harlem who was lured into the island through a newspaper ad promising falcon-related work.
Cap convinces Sam to dress up in a (somewhat) falcon-looking costume to inspire the locals to rise up against the Nazis, and he ends up liking the whole "punch racists for a living" deal, so he becomes a superhero. That's about as simple an origin as you'll find in comics ... until Marvel decided to make it a bit more confusing and a lot more racist. Captain America and the Falcon #186 (1975) reveals that Falcon's entire backstory was a fabrication -- he was never a social worker, he was a mob-connected drug dealer called "Snap" Wilson who dressed like a pimp and talked like, well, a white comic book writer trying to write "black" dialogue.
One day, "Snap" was flying back from some sort of deal in Brazil (the comic doesn't specify, so we're gonna assume he was buying man-thongs) when he got greedy and decided to attack the pilot to steal his bosses' money, causing the plane to crash on Nazi Island. That's where Red Skull found him and, using the reality-shaping powers of the Cosmic Cube, turned him into an "upright, cheerful negro" so that he'd befriend Captain America and become his crime-fighting partner. Once Red Skull was ready to reveal his ruse, he demonstrated his power over Falcon by making him cluck like a chicken.
Of course, Falcon is able to overcome the Skull's control and continues being a superhero -- but the "dope-trafficking mobster" story remained his accepted origin for decades. During the Avengers: Disassembled storyline in 2004, a mentally unstable Scarlet Witch reverts Falcon to his "Snap" persona just to screw with Cap.
Oh yeah, and this happened while Cap and Wanda were sleeping (but just sleeping) together, which is a whole other can of reality-altering worms. What's important right now is that Falcon had some very tasteful things to say about his best friend's new magical girlfriend:
Marvel didn't go back to Falcon's first origin until All-New Captain America #3 (2015), which establishes that Red Skull made up the entire "Snap" Wilson story. "An old Nazi war criminal came up with it" has to be the harshest way Marvel has ever retconned one of their own writers' work, but he kinda had it coming.
Cap And Bucky Started Crossdressing Immediately Into Their Adventures
During World War II, Captain America and Bucky (the future Winter Soldier) weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and do whatever they had to do to combat the advance of the fascist menace. And sometimes, "whatever they had to do" involved putting on a corset and a wig and walking hand in hand.
In Cap and Bucky's very second appearance, Captain America Comics #2 (1941), they're tasked with going to Europe to rescue a financier kidnapped by the Nazis and decide that the best way to do this would be to disguise themselves as an old granny and her lollipop-licking grandkid. Before they can even get to Europe, Cap is already putting the mission at risk by punching every Nazi who walks past them.
Later, as this adult man and child companion strip down in a "dark corner" of the ship, Bucky remarks that he's glad to get out of this "Fauntleroy sissy suit."
As the mission continues and our heroes travel from Nazi-occupied France to Germany, they get entirely too comfortable in their new roles. Bucky even calls Cap "granny" once:
Later, Cap almost has his wig blown off upon reading that the financier they're looking for is working with the Nazis. Meanwhile, Bucky's protests are starting to sound less convincing ...
Later, it's "Sissy Suit" Bucky who saves the day by realizing that the financier is an impostor and tackling him before he can sign a deal that will help the Nazis, something only made possible by the ample leg room and flexibility afforded by his new uniform.
One panel later, Cap is already in his classic suit, implying that he stripped out of the granny dress in front of everyone.
Later on, in Captain America Comics #12 (1942), Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes' commanding officer "punishes" them for their frequent absences by forcing them to wear showgirl costumes for a play, unaware that they're superheroes and therefore used to wearing ridiculous clothes. Again, they feel right at home in their dresses in no time.
Cap and Bucky spend the rest of the issue running back and forth between their crime-fighting mission and their even more important duty to entertain their fellow troops via song and dance. True American heroes.
Falcon Has A Psychic Connection With A Literal Bird, Was A Mutant For A While
In the comics, Falcon has a pet falcon called Redwing, though he'd probably resent us using the word "pet" -- at one point he described Redwing as "more than a bird! More than a falcon! It's like ... he's a part of me!" That sounds exactly like something a falcon owner would say, but as it turns out, he wasn't just being dramatic.
During a team up with the X-Men, Professor X points out that Falcon has a "paranormal mind" and an "uncommon rapport" with Redwing, and won't rule out the possibility of Sam being a mutant. As far as mutant powers go, "having an intense relationship with a bird" isn't exactly "unlimited healing factor" or even "shooting fireworks out of your fingers," but it's something.
Later, Red Skull claims he used the Cosmic Cube to give Falcon his psychic link with Redwing as part of his needlessly convoluted Manchurian Candidate-type plan.
OK, so does that mean Falcon isn't a mutant? Apparently not, because in Falcon #2 (1983) an X-Men-killing Sentinel robot determines that Sam has mutant DNA and hunts him down. Not only that, but Falcon uses his psychic connection to guide Redwing into the Sentinel's body and mess with some cables until the giant robot drops dead.
"Is this character a homo superior or not?" is the sort of question that causes violent brawls at Comic-Con, so in Avengers Annual 2001 (2001, duh) Marvel finally cleared up that the Sentinel from before was defective and Falcon isn't and has never been a mutant. That didn't stop other writers from writing him like one, though. In Avengers #64 (2003), he uses his Redwing connection to "link up" with six billion other birds and look through their eyes to find a missing girl.
Falcon's psychic bird powers still resurface from time to time but he doesn't seem to draw too much attention to them, probably because no one wants to be known as the Aquaman of the air. In the MCU, "Redwing" is a drone instead of a living being, so a live-action version of this storyline would have to involve Falcon loving it deeply and thus being able to look through any drone in the world. Hey, if an Avenger can marry an android, anything's possible.
Marvel Dicked Fans Around With "Bucky's Return" For Decades
When Captain America was unfrozen in Avengers #4 (1964), it was established that his jolly kid partner Bucky Barnes had died horribly in an explosion during WWII, and that was about it for the character for the next 40 years. Stan Lee claimed he had a rule that Bucky could never be brought back, because 1) he hated the idea of teen sidekicks, and 2) comic book fans were now older and would have probably realized that Bucky was just a Robin ripoff. Marvel stuck to that rule for a long time ... but that didn't stop them from teasing (threatening?) fans with the character's return at every chance.
The first was in Captain America #110 (1969), when Cap runs into the Hulk and the kid he used to pal around with, Rick Jones. During the issue, Rick almost gets killed and Cap takes him away from Hulk, for his own safety -- but the kid must be suicidal, because the next day, he shows up dressed in a replica of Bucky's costume that Cap had in his closet, for some reason.
Cap protests for exactly one page before Rick wears him down and becomes the new Bucky, going on a variety of life-threatening situations over the next six issues. Cap wasn't even the one who got rid of Rick -- the Red Skull did him the favor while he and Cap had switched bodies. By the time they switched back, Cap had sorta forgotten about Rick.
The Buckyteasing continued with the cover of Captain America #131 (1970), which makes it look like Bucky will be back from the death just in time to save Cap from a ridiculous giant clock contraption. This doesn't exactly help the Dynamic Duo comparisons.
Within the comic, we find out that a villain has brainwashed an amnesiac Bucky lookalike to lay a trap for Cap -- but this backfires when the kid's "true memories" begin to emerge and he seems to be the real Bucky. Cap immediately buys it and by the next issue, he's doing press conferences to announce that the Cap/Bucky team is back in action.
Of course, this turns out to be an android created by Doctor Doom ... but, in twist #3 (or #4, we lost track), the android was too realistic and ends up spontaneously blowing itself up rather than letting Cap be harmed.
But the most regrettable fake Bucky to come out of these Bucky-less years has to be Lemar Hoskins, the adult sidekick to a new Captain America who took over from Steve Rogers in Captain America #334 (1987). Aside from the unfortunate optics of having a black man serve as the sidekick of a white dude who shared his exact same powers ...
... it was soon pointed out to the writer that "buck" is a racist term in some parts of America, so the new Bucky was promptly renamed Battlestar and given a less embarrassing costume.
By 2005, Bucky had been so maligned that writer Ed Brubaker figured they'd never let him bring him back for real for his "Winter Soldier" storyline in 2005 -- but sales were so low that Marvel apparently didn't care anymore and they let him do it. This was a tremendously lucky break for Brubaker, and the MCU, and most important of all: people who post erotic Cap/Bucky fan art on Tumblr. There's no way that would have become such a prolific corner of the art world if Brubaker hadn't turned the character into a badass adult (or at least we're hoping so).
Top Image: Marvel Studios