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With Chris Evans' impending departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all eyes were on Captain America's shield to see who it would go to next. The release of Avengers: Endgame put an endgame to all that when it ended with Steve Rogers handing it off to his successor: Sam Wilson, the titular "Falcon" in Disney+'s upcoming series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
But as Kevin Feige, Marvel's chief creative officer (AKA the mastermind behind the MCU at large), told Variety in a recent interview, that decision actually came about a full four years ago.
"The day we decided, we were in the conference room, the one that feels like we spend half of our lives in in Atlanta, cracking the story," explains Feige. "The shield had gone to a few people in the comic books in the past, but four years ago, it did seem like some of the great potential of those storylines and the journey Sam and Steve Rogers, had gone on over the course of the films, it seemed right that he would hand it to Sam."
And while that particular decision was made years ago without his knowledge, when it came to the actual handoff between characters (and actors), Feige says actor Anthony Mackie, who plays Sam Wilson/The Falcon, was a big part of even the staging of the scene — and not just because he was in it.
"It was actually Mackie and Sebastian [Stan] that came up with the blocking for the scene by the bench at the end of Endgame." says Feige, stating that shooting those scenes had been poignant and emotional. "They walk up to Steve together. As it was scripted, only Sam noticed this older gentleman sitting on a bench. They came up with this notion that they start to walk together, and then Sam steps forward... Even the notion of him holding the shield and saying, 'it feels like it belongs to somebody else.'"
Fiege then added, "What had been a classic passing of the torch from one hero to another at the end of Endgame suddenly opened up our potential to tell a whole story about that. What does it really mean for somebody to step into those shoes? And not just somebody, but a Black man in the present day. That’s what Mackie and our head writer Malcolm Spellman and all of us didn’t want to shy away from."
Fans of Sam have a lot to look forward to when the series premieres on Disney+ on March 19, following the streamer's incredibly popular run of WandaVision, yet another Marvel project that has viewers with more questions and a thirst for more glimpses into the MCU, as Feige says the show will delve into Sam's backstory.
"All along we’ve been asking, 'Where did he grow up? Who is his family?' We want to know more about this guy being thrown into this situation and handling it spectacularly well considering he’s just a man," explains Feige. "That’s what the show is about. This man, this Black man in particular, in the Marvel version of the world outside our window."
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will descend onto Disney+ on Friday, March 19.