It has been three weeks since Avengers: Endgame opened in theaters. The culmination of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline will go down as a seminal moment in comic book filmmaking—thanks in part to Chis Evans’s role as Captain America.
**Spoiler Warning: Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame.**
The ending, where Steve Rogers passed his mantle on to Sam Wilson, was one of the most poignant moments in the film. It added equal amounts of gravitas and triumph to a movie already filled with several emotionally charged moments.
On the surface, the bit felt like a fitting end to Steve’s journey ever since he woke up in the present. However, it was also the natural progression of Sam and Steve’s relationship.
No one did more than Sam to help Cap acclimate to his new life after he returned from the ice. In Endgame, Steve counseled people with PTSD when we caught up with him after the time jump. That was no coincidence. Part of what makes that scene so powerful is it illustrates he learned just as much from Falcon, who did similar work in Winter Soldier.
See, Sam taught Steve there’s a way to instill hope outside of the battlefield, right here on American soil. Also, Steve could relate to him more than his peers because he also served in the military. In addition, they bonded over the need to continue to contribute to the betterment of the country.
With that said, some fans may ask what makes Falcon the best choice to succeed him as Captain America. Yes, he’s a great friend and partner who stood by him no matter what. But that alone doesn’t make him worthy of carrying the shield.
As stated earlier, Sam helped mold Captain America into a modern iteration, who wasn’t just a soldier. In the process, he inadvertently proved he understood what it took to be a symbol for others.
He also has military training and tactical leadership skills to fill the role. Not to mention, he’s well-versed in both hand-to-hand and aerial combat.
Sam doesn’t have the abilities the Super Soldier Serum granted Steve. However, he was proficient enough to work beside him without them. If we know anything about Steve Rogers, it’s that he believes heart and mettle are more important than physical gifts. That is to say, Rogers picked Falcon because he sees him as comparable in terms of conviction and integrity.
Speaking of, it was important to see Captain America acknowledge a black man as his equal. The racial aspect shouldn’t be the focus of his decision, but it was so moving that it can’t be ignored.
By his own account, Anthony Mackie cried after they filmed the scene. Like many fans, he understands how significant representation is.
So, why not Bucky Barnes? He’s just as qualified. Well, for one thing, it would be problematic to hand the shield to the man who murdered its creator, Howard Stark. If Steve picked Bucky it would’ve come off like he didn’t learn anything after Civil War. He picked his friend over his duty once, so he couldn’t very well do it again.
Choosing Bucky would’ve been more about redeeming his old partner than choosing the best person to replace him. Secondly, it wouldn’t have felt as emotional because the audience has spent more time with Steve and Sam’s partnership over the last five years.
The end of Steve Rogers’s adventures as Captain America was sad, but he deserved a happy ending. It will be interesting to see how Sam Wilson fares as the new “Sentinel of Liberty.” He is more than capable of carrying on the mantle for a new generation.