The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Whatever Happened to Redwing?

Throughout Sam Wilson's history in the pages of Marvel Comics, as both Falcon and Captain America, he's been accompanied by his actual falcon friend, Redwing. The pair share a psychic link, itself eventually spreading to almost every other bird in any given area, giving the hero literal eyes in the sky but also a companion that he has a connection to, unlike his superhero associates. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe Redwing was absent from Anthony Mackie's first movie as the character, 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but appeared in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, relegated to being a drone, and hasn't been seen since. This prompts the question, what happened to them?

Considering the larger "realism" that the Marvel Cinematic Universe attempts to pull off with so many of its heroes, coupled with the military background and armory that Mackie's Wilson is rooted in, it makes since why Redwing was written off as a one-time piece of technology for one action sequence. The film managed to incorporate Sam's connection with the drone in a way that clearly resembled their comic book counterparts, not the least of which is because of the surveillance aspect of what they did as a team — but, in the end, after that opening scene that was about it. There's reason for Marvel to dust off Redwing as an actual character, or even just bring back the drone, in the MCU for a few reasons.

Beyond the simple addendum of "it gives Sam a new tool to use," Redwing can come to mean more than that. As a concept, Redwing can represent Sam's many personal connections that are worthy of exploration like his past in the military or to the literal sky where he flies over everyone. It's almost certain that the upcoming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier TV series will digger deeper into Sam's character than any of the movies were allowed to and by giving him an inanimate proxy that is more than just a gadget Redwing can add layers to his journey.

Better yet, rather than the drone, Marvel should fully commit to Redwing as an actual bird. They can easily milk the comedy of The Falcon having a pet Falcon (perhaps a gift from Bucky), the personal connection between Sam and Redwing was what made their stories have depth beyond being an extension of superpowers. Furthermore, should the inevitable happen and Sam does become the new Captain America by the end of the upcoming series an actual Redwing would serve as a reminder of where he came from.

Lest we forget about the future there's also the larger picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is always at play. In the pages of Marvel Comics after Sam became Captain America, another character inherited the title of Falcon. It's unclear if Marvel Studios will stick to this style of legacy storytelling with their heroic titles, but there is not only precedence for someone else (Joaquín Torres in the Captain America: Sam Wilson comic series) to become Falcon after Sam but that same character partners up with Redwing as well. Torres' story is perhaps a little too complicated for a one to one adaptation (he's an actual human/falcon hybrid), but if Marvel can explain that then they can explain why Sam Wilson has a pet falcon too.

Thanks to some TV spots we know that the TV series will see the return of the Redwing drone, but that's not what the people want. Do the right thing Marvel, make them a bird.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ beginning Friday, March 19th.

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