but were afraid to ask.
Since today we've been talking about Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, I wanted to bring some attention specifically to The Falcon, who will be played by Anthony Mackie:
*The Low-down on The Falcon*
So what's his real name? Sam Wilson
Where's he from? He's from Harlem. When Sam is a teen, both of his parents are murdered, albeit two years apart. Torn up by grief, Sam eventually moves to LA and becomes a gang member.
A gang member? Yeah, that's original. It was the late 196os/early 1970s. Deal with it.
While on his way to do something illegal in Rio de Janeiro, Sam's plane conveniently crashes on an island populated by Red Skull (whom you might remember from the first Captain America movie) and some of his cronies.
In a plot to get back at Captain America, Red Skull gives Sam the ability to communicate with birds, including the (actual) falcon, Redwing, whom Sam befriended (or bought, depending on the story) while he was on Red Skull's island. At any rate, Red Skull's plot is foiled when Sam decides to help Cap and defeat Red Skull, probably because the latter apparently didn't give him any useful powers except for talking to birds.*
Sam eventually goes back to Harlem with his trusty bird friend Redwing and becomes a social worker by day and Captain America's crime-fighting partner by night. He artificially gains the power to fly after Black Panther fashions a special flight harness/wing pack for him.
In other adventures the Falcon is a member of the Avengers and also takes on the persona of Captain America at one point while Steve Rogers is presumed dead.
He really likes birds, doesn't he? Yes, in addition to his bond with Redwing and his ability to communicate with and control birds to some extent, as a child, according to canon, Sam trained pigeons and was known for having the largest pigeon coop in Harlem (this is seriously canon).
How he will differ in the movie? Sam Wilson is now a former military paratrooper trained to use a special wing pack in aerial combat. His day job is still that of a social worker by way of VA counselor for veterans with PTSD (aww). Redwing the actual falcon will not appear in the Winter Soldier. Telepathic connection to birds also not included.
Why he's important: The Falcon is the first African-American superhero in a mainstream comic. He isn't the first man of color to be a superhero — that would be Black Panther — but he's the first American man of color to be a superhero.
Why he's REALLY important: in an interview with Newsday, Anthony Mackie said, "He's the first African-American superhero. It makes me feel all the work I've done has been paying off. I have a son, nephews and nieces, and I love the idea that they can dress up as the Falcon on Halloween. They now have someone they can idolize. That's a huge honor for me."
All flippancy aside, I think it is really great that the Falcon is being included in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. To date, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), James Rhodes (Terrence Howard/Don Cheadle) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) are the only other significant people of color in The Avengers storyline and its associated films, of which there are eight at the moment. Representation is important in all media, and maybe, just maybe, the inclusion of the Falcon will lead to other superhero movies fronted or co-fronted by people of color, LGBT people, disabled people, etc.
*The Falcon's backstory is super confusing and weird, even for a comic book hero.