Today’s episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier introduced us to a character that’s new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but who has an important history in the comics — Isaiah Bradley.
First appearing in Truth: Red, White & Black issue #1, Isaiah Bradley was the first Black Captain America. In the 1940s, there was a scramble to recreate the Super Soldier serum that had enhanced Steve Rogers. Isaiah was one of 300 African American soldiers that were forcibly recruited into Project Rebirth and also one of the few to survive the grueling process. After working with a black-ops team, Isaiah’s last assignment was a mission to stop the development of the German Super Soldier formula. He had taken a Captain America costume and shield with him on the mission and was later imprisoned for doing so. Although Isaiah remained largely unknown, he was a respected hero amongst the Black community.
In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier‘s second episode “The Star-Spangled Man,” Bucky and Sam both found themselves at odds with what their next move should be now that John Walker is the one that wields Steve Rogers’ shield. Bucky then brought Sam to meet Isaiah Bradley, a US army veteran who’s also a Super Soldier. The two went head-to-head in 1951 when Bucky was still a brainwashed assassin, and Isaiah had taken off a chunk of the Winter Soldier’s arm in the process. Isaiah is bitter and angry in his old age, and rightfully so — his “reward” for being a hero was 30 years in jail with people running tests on him.
Sam is baffled by this knowledge. When he and Bucky leave, he remarks, “So you’re telling me that there was a Black Super Soldier decades ago and nobody knew about it?” At a time when Sam Wilson is struggling with the fact that Steve Rogers wanted him to take on the Captain America mantle, something he has yet to accept, the knowledge of Isaiah’s story will likely play an important role in Sam’s trajectory moving forward.
It’s also worth noting that the boy that begrudgingly let Sam and Bucky into the house is Isaiah’s grandson Elijah Bradley, who goes on to become the Young Avenger Patriot in the comics.
Episode 3 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will land on Disney+ Friday, April 2.