Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) learns the truth about the Black Captain America when James 'Bucky' Barnes (Sebastian Stan) reveals the history of Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly). Spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2, "The Star-Spangled Man." After Sam relinquishes the shield of Captain America — entrusted to him by a retired Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in Avengers: Endgame — Bucky brings the Falcon to Baltimore, Maryland, where Sam meets Isaiah and his grandson Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson). Bucky tells the teenager to report to his reclusive grandfather that "the guy from the bar in Goyang is here," explaining to Sam: "We had a skirmish during the Korean War."
Inside, Bucky introduces Sam to Isaiah: "He was a hero. One of the ones that HYDRA feared the most. Like Steve."
They met in 1951 — "If by met," Isaiah points out, "you mean I whupped your ass, yeah" — when the U.S. military dropped Isaiah behind enemy lines to "go deal with" the elusive assassin known as the Winter Soldier. Isaiah says he took half of Bucky's metal arm in their fight in Goyang, which he's since replaced courtesy of his stay in Wakanda. "I just wanted to see if he got the arm back," Isaiah says, "or if he'd come to kill me."
No longer the brainwashed HYDRA assassin who was feared for half a century, Bucky tells him: "I'm not a killer anymore." But that's not why they're here.
After their reluctant team-up with John Walker, the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell), and Lemar Hoskins, his superhero partner Battlestar (Clé Bennett), Sam and Bucky learn that an anti-patriotism anarchist group called the Flag Smashers are powered by the Super Soldier Serum that gave Steve and Bucky — and Isaiah — their superhuman abilities.
But Isaiah orders them out of his home and refuses to reveal what he might know about this new breed of super soldier.
"You know what they did to me for being a hero? They put my ass in jail for 30 years," he tells the pair of Avengers. "People running tests, taking my blood, coming into my cell. Even your people" — HYDRA — "weren't done with me."
When Sam questions Bucky about Isaiah's existence, and how no one has ever mentioned him, Bucky reveals the truth: Isaiah is a secret because Bucky kept him a secret. And he never told Steve. Stunned, Sam asks, "You're telling me that there was a Black super soldier decades ago and nobody knew about it?"
In the Marvel comic books, Isaiah's story is told in the 2003 mini-series Truth: Red, White & Black, where it's revealed Isaiah was one of 300 African American soldiers used as test subjects by Project Rebirth — the government's attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. Like his Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart, this Isaiah was jailed for heroically serving his country: using a stolen Captain America costume and a shield branded with the logo of the Double V campaign, the Black Captain America prevented the Nazis from developing their own army of Super Soldiers.
Because Sam and Bucky had a run-in with a supposed plot to launch an army of Russian super soldiers back in 2016 — during the events of Captain America: Civil War — they have no choice but to turn to an imprisoned Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl).
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