Samuel Thomas "Sam" Wilson, also known as The Falcon, is a Marvel Comics superhero introduced in Captain America #117 (September 1969). Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Sam was originally written as a social worker who joined up with Captain America. Later, the story was that while he was initially a happy child and quite fond of birds, as a teen, his experiences with racism and his parents' deaths made him bitter, jaded, and angry. Leaving his past behind him, he becomes "Snap" Wilson, a professional criminal, gang member, and pimp, who was brainwashed by the Red Skull into believing the original origin detailed above, in order to get close to Captain America after they were stranded on the Isle of Exiles. However, Sam himself doubted that story, and was eventually able to tell the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, the truth: he was a social worker who'd been stranded on the Isle of Exiles, who'd saved Steve's life and helped him escape. The true fake memories implanted by the Red Skull were those of him being a criminal, a plot he concocted to discredit Sam, counting on the fact that no one would question a black man from Harlem having a shady past. This was done by the Cosmic Cube, which the Red Skull had possession of.
The cube also gives him an empathic link with Redwing, his pet falcon and crimefighting partner, giving him an ability to communicate with him telepathically and see through his pet's eyes. This ability will eventually be trained to work with any bird that is near him.
Sam met Steve Rogers, who encouraged to stand against the Red Skull's evil. After extensive gymnastics and hand-to-hand combat training by Captain America, Sam Wilson dubbed himself the Falcon. With Cap and Redwing, Falcon defeated the Red Skull and would return with them to Harlem. While working as a social worker, Falcon continued being a hero, protecting his neighborhood from crime. Eventually, he formed a long-time partnership with Captain America and received a specialized winged-harness that allows him to fly from the Black Panther.
Falcon and Redwing would go to become members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Super Agents, the Avengers, the Defenders, and the Heroes for Hire. Initially appearing alongside Captain America in Captain America and The Falcon, Sam would star in his own limited series, The Falcon, in 1983. He was invited to rejoin the Avengers during Marvel NOW.
In 2014, Sam Wilson became a legacy Captain America after Steve Rogers lost his powers. Even after Steve regained his strength, Sam held on to the mantle and shield until 2017 and the fallout from Secret Empire, after which he returned to the Falcon codename with a new look (and a new series).
Also in 2014, a new version of the character entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, portrayed by Anthony Mackie. The MCU Falcon has yet another completely different origin: as an Afghanistan War veteran turned PTSD counsellor, who flies using a one-man powered wingsuit that he used during his military service and subsequently "liberated".
- Captain America and The Falcon Vol. 1 (1971)
- Falcon (1983)
- Captain America and the Falcon Vol. 2 (2004)
- All-New Captain America (2014)
- All-New Captain America: Fear Him Infinite Comic (2014)
- Captain America and the Mighty Avengers (2014)
- Captain America: Sam Wilson (2015)
- The Falcon (2017)
- Marvel Cinematic Universe, played by Anthony Mackie
- The Avengers: United They Stand
- The Super Hero Squad Show
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
- Avengers, Assemble!
Tropes associated with The Falcon include:
- Adaptational Superpower Change: Every adaptation of the character from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! onwards drops the "talks to birds" angle, instead making him a non-powered guy with a flight pack. Redwing nowadays tends to be a robotic drone that's part of his flight pack rather than a flesh-and-blood bird.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Sam replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America after Steve lost his powers.
- Animal Eye Spy
- Animal-Themed Superbeing
- Angry Black Man: Mainly before he became a hero. He can occasionally channel this vibe nowadays, but it's not really anger so much as it's exasperation with Steve's or Bucky's or Ian's antics, or having to educate someone about African-American history.
- Badass Normal
- Big Brother Mentor: To Bucky Cap.
- Black Best Friend: To the first Captain America.
- Building Swing: This was originally how The Falcon got around, with a glove with a built-in grappling hook launcher. This was discontinued when he got his flying wing harness.
- The Cape
- Clothes Make the Superman: His psychic connection to birds is his only inherent superpower. His ability to fly (which he uses much more frequently in combat) is from the winged harness in his suit.
- Color Character: Notably averted. Falcon was the first black hero not to have "Black" in his name.
- Fake Memories: Due to the effects of the Cosmic Cube. For the longest time, no one was sure if the actual Fake Memories were of Sam's family or of Sam's time as the pimp "Snap" Wilson. All-New Captain America #3 ultimately chooses the "Snap" Wilson memories as the fake ones, with Sam saying that they were lies the Red Skull concocted to discredit him.
- Family Theme Naming: Sam and his sister and brother, Sarah and Gideon, all have names from the Bible, as their father was a minister.
- Fanboy: To Isaiah Bradley, the very first (in-universe chronologically) African-American superhero who becomes Captain America. Sam is among several African-American heroes, along with Luke Cage, Goliath (Bill Foster), Monica Rambeau, and Triathlon; who are gleefully surprised when Isaiah arrives as a special guest at the wedding of Storm and Black Panther.
- Feather Flechettes: Has this ability in The Superhero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! and Avengers, Assemble! but hasn't as of yet been able to do this in the comics.
- The Gadfly: His method of protesting being the token black member of the Avengers.
- Hard Light: The Falcon's Wakandan-made costume has hard light wings.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: One would think being able to talk to birds would be a useless power, until you remember that basically means he has a massive spy network everywhere. It's been said that his birds make for a better information source than Nick Fury's spies. After all, who pays attention to whether there's a bird nearby?
- Hero with Bad Publicity: It's been a major theme in his days as Captain America, his openness about his views on politics caused so much outrae that superheroes such as U.S.Agent were sent after him to reclaim the shield.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Falcon manages to hold his own very competently in many situations that gave Captain America and Black Widow trouble and is never once a burden to the situation, many of which he wasn't trained for, although it can go almost unnoticed because he's Overshadowed by Awesome.
- I Believe I Can Fly: Sam, both as Falcon and Captain America, via retractable, metallic wings. Joaquin Torres, too, as the new Falcon, though his DNA having been spliced with Redwing's grants him actual flight-capable wings.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Freshly gene-spliced, Joaquin Torres expectedly looks forward to being cured so that he can go home to his mom. He brightens up considerably upon the realization that he can fly, which is probably a good thing, since his condition has currently been diagnosed as incurable due to the potent vampirism-related Healing Factor he's also acquired (what side-effects, if any, are still being explored).
- Jive Turkey: Subverted and played for laughs after the Falcon is more or less forced to join the Avengers by Henry Gyrich (who wanted to make it more ethnically diverse), he speaks this way on purpose to annoy him.
- Legacy Character:
- Falcon briefly became Captain America when he thought Cap was dead. He did it again courtesy of Marvel NOW.
- Captain America: Sam Wilson sees the gradual introduction of Joaquin Torres, a young Mexican American man who unwittingly fell victim to a DNA splicing with Redwing courtesy of a Mad Scientist, a process that soon turns out to be irreversible due to Redwing's rather unique physiology, but that grants him a host of abilities, including the power of flight. Said gradual introduction culminates into Joaquin becoming the new Falcon and Sam's sidekick in issue 5.
- Meaningful Name: "Sam Wilson" was the name of the New York meatpacker who's most often credited as the inspiration for "Uncle Sam". Fitting, since this Sam Wilson is Captain America's most trusted ally, and in 2014 Steve Rogers will be passing the title on to him.
- Punny Name: He is, in fact, an uncle.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Redwing, his pet falcon.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Redwing thanks to Baron Blood. However this avian vampire is much different than those of the mammalian variety.
- Outside-Genre Foe: Blackheart and Deacon Frost in the 2017–18 limited series. Rayshaun Lucas, a.k.a. Patriot II, lampshades this trope for the former and played with for the latter as Sam had some experience dealing with vampires when he fought Baron Blood as Captain America.
- Parental Abandonment: His father was killed trying to break up a neighborhood fight. His mom was killed in a mugging two years later.
- The Prankster
- Primary-Color Champion: As Captain America.
- Psychic Link: He has it with birds.
- Razor Wings
- Red Is Heroic: His second costume is predominantly red, and even his later ones still retain it.
- Ret-Canon: For a brief time, he wore the armored costume he sported in The Avengers: United They Stand.
- The Reveal: He was initially introduced as an enthusiastic social worker. However, it was later revealed that this was a Cosmic Cube–induced reality warp and he was really a professional criminal, gang member, and racketeer before the warp. Decades later, this was revealed to be a ruse by the Red Skull.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Can talk to birds.
- Superhero Packing Heat: The Ultimate and MCU versions of Falcon use guns.
- Super Senses: The Falcon's mask gives him telescopic, night, and infrared vision.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Sam is very fond of Bucky... just not of Bucky's plans.
- Token Black:
- In-universe, he was added to the team because Gyrich insisted that the team should have more black members; he didn't actually want to join.
- He was the sole black member of the team in The Avengers: United They Stand. He's also the sole non-white Avenger (as well as the only one not present in the live-action movie) in Avengers, Assemble!.
- The Worm Guy: His Ultimate Marvel version.
- Vague Age: Joaquin's age was rather vague before it was eventually number-dropped to be 17. That he helped boarder crossing Mexicans with clean water and supplies makes him seem as if he would be older, but he's constantly referred to as a kid by Sam, Misty, and most who refer to him directly. That in itself is vague, since some adults will refer to others who are younger then themselves as a "kid" well into that person's late teens or early twenties. Even after we finally got a few scenes from Joaquin's point of view, it's wasn't made much clearer; despite having some tendencies expected of a teenager, by and large Joaquin has a profound and intelligent mind and is very politically and socially minded, somewhat belying of what you'd expect from most 17-year-olds. Lastly, he has quite the muscular physique on him, another obscurer of age, since you never can tell if Teens Are Short is being played straight or not (whether he got this physique as part of being spliced or if he had it beforehand, too, and to what extent if so, isn't clear, since he never had a clear appearance before he was revealed as spliced).