If you’ve already seen Captain America: Civil War (one time or five times—we’re not judging), you probably got some great looks at Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, cruising through the sky in his new and improved flight suit. But if you’re a true Marvel Comics nerd, you may also have noticed that he’s missing several qualities that are key to the original hero's identity.
Sam Wilson, under the alias the Falcon, made his first comic book debut in the '60s in Captain America Volume 1; 117, appropriately titled The Coming of the Falcon. And it's a good thing that he did: Wilson swooped in to save the protagonist's life as he battled the vengeful Red Skull. Not only is Wilson the first African American superhero in mainstream comics, he's also a skilled gymnast, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, and, most importantly, an avid bird lover.
So yes, the motion-picture version of the Falcon is pretty cool (not to mention, very handsome)—but he still lacks a certain avian flair. Here’s a look at why Mackie’s Wilson isn’t quite as badass as his comic book counterpart.
No Nifty Birds-Eye View
For starters, the original Falcon has one of the best superpowers out there: the ability to communicate with birds. Although he doesn’t fly around chirping and tweeting at his winged buddies, he's able to forge a telepathic connection with them. That means he can read their minds and even see snapshots of their aerial views—a useful skill when trying to stalk villains or rescue people from imminent death. In the past it's been revealed that he has 6 billion pairs of eyes in the U.S. skies alone.
The Falcon from the films wasn’t given this talent—but perhaps it’s for the best. With all the bombs, gun blasts, and star-encrusted shields zooming around, it’s good that birds weren’t caught in the middle of the civil war.
No Real-Life Raptor Sidekick
In the illustrated Marvel world, Wilson has a reliable little sidekick: Redwing, a crimson-colored pet falcon. He and Redwing share a telepathic link, thanks to some strange mojo pulled by the villain Red Skull. Although Redwing does make a few appearances in the movies, he’s shown as a robotic drone; his feathers have been replaced with steel plates and his talons are now complex multipurpose gadgets. This militarized version of Redwing is helpful when Wilson needs a second pair of eyes—but without any psychic powers, he can only see through it by donning a pair of red-tinted, high-tech goggles.
No Animal-Taming Skills
Best of all, the comic book character is also an excellent bird trainer. As a kid, Wilson had a natural attraction to birds, and was particularly drawn to pigeons (unlike most New Yorkers). He even owned the biggest pigeon coop in Harlem at one point. Over time he became a master bird whisperer and could train any wild avian, no matter how fierce. But the Falcon in the movie doesn’t keep company with pigeons—nor can he train any avian allies. True to his feathered roots, however, he does get into a lengthy battle with a cat (okay, a man dressed like a cat, better known as the Black Panther).
Civil War is a beautiful ride—yet it’s clear that Cap gets all the glory, and that Falcon just serves as his trusty accomplice. But hey, at least they got the suit right.