Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode 1 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Marvel’s latest live-action television series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, finally landed on Disney+ today (check out our full recap of the episode). “New World Order” has started to lay the groundwork of what’s to come for Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, but it also began to set the stage for what might be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next new hero.
Early on in the episode, Sam was assisting the United States Air Force with a mission against a criminal organization called LAF (which just so happens to involve Georges Batroc aka Batroc the Leaper — a villain we first met in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). This segment introduced us to Danny Ramirez’s Joaquín Torres, a young lieutenant that has befriended Sam and seems to look up to him. In his short time on-screen thus far, Ramirez has proven to be an intriguing addition to the MCU.
Though we don’t have much of a backstory on Torres character yet, we do know that he’s a brave and driven soldier, as seen in the way that he takes it upon himself to attempt to infiltrate the Flag Smashers gathering (much to Sam’s dismay). So what’s all of this characterization building to, besides a helpful ally for Sam to have on his side?
Well, in the comics there’s a teenager named Joaquín Torres, who was introduced in Captain America: Sam Wilson issue #1 in 2015. Joaquín was kidnapped by the Sons of the Serpent and given to Dr. Karl Malus, who experimented on the boy and turned him into a falcon/human hybrid using Sam Wilson’s avian partner Redwing. Sam, who was holding the Captain America mantle at that time, ultimately rescued Joaquín and took him under his care. Joaquín gained various powers from the experiments, such as the ability to fly, a regenerative healing factor, and a psychic link with Redwing. Once the Serpent Society was defeated, Joaquín stepped into the role of Captain America’s sidekick and took on the Falcon alias.
It seems unlikely that Lieutenant Torres is going to become a falcon/human hybrid, especially considering that the MCU’s version of Redwing is a drone. In The Winter Soldier when we met Sam, he didn’t have any innate superhuman abilities to bring to the table, but he did have his Air Force training and a winged jetpack. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Torres move into a superhero role in a similar manner. If he will take on the mantle of Falcon or go by another alias remains to be seen, depending on the ultimate trajectory of Captain America’s shield in the series, but he’s likely be an important player on the board either way.