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There is no way in hell that Falcon is broke
Why is Sam Wilson poor? After 23 films the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally does something implausible.
I very much enjoyed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode one, because my cultural tastes are sickeningly mainstream and I am an enormous fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What I like about the MCU is its consistency: Everything fits together reasonably well. And up until now, even with Endgame involving time travel, the franchise hasn’t tied itself up in continuity knots. I’m sure more eagle-eyed viewers than I can already point to a host of problems with either the MCU timeline, or how it employs logic or science. But whatever, I can tolerate those things.
What bothers me, however, is how in the first episode of TFATWS, we’re supposed to believe that the Falcon, Sam Wilson, is broke.
We see him return to Louisiana where he grew up to meet his sister, who reveals her business is having financial problems. They might lose the boat that their parents raised them on.
At this point it gets confusing. Sam doesn’t simply pull out his Avengers chequebook and write a whopping great big cheque, he tries to help his sister apply for a bank loan.
This… doesn’t make any sense. Because there is no way that Sam can be poor.
Sam is famous. Moments earlier, we saw him deliver a speech to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum as he handed over Captain America’s shield for the collection. The loan guy at the bank knows who he is.
Sam fought in the battle at the end of Endgame. He literally helped save the world.
Even if the Avengers didn’t get paid a salary, or survived on goodwill alone, there is absolutely no way that Sam wouldn’t be able to solve all of his sister’s financial problems by simply giving one or two paid speeches to Goldman Sachs or whatever other rich guys want to pay him.
To put this into perspective, Hillary Clinton famously earned $675,000 for giving three speeches to Goldmans, and she didn’t even save the world. Arguably she actively failed to do so.
After Endgame, Sam is easily one of the most well known Avengers, and is arguably the best positioned to cash-in. All of the top-tier Avengers who are more famous than he is are gone: Iron Man and Black Widow are dead, Captain America is back in time, Thor is on another planet. Hawkeye is living on a farm, having retreated from the world until his own spin-off series happens1.
Sam saw the battle against Thanos first hand. Publishers would be biting his hands off to offer him a book deal. Think of the Oprah interview. The biopic. The endless corporate gigs. The personal appearances. He could become the face of practically any brand. He could run for Congress. He could give Pepper Pots at Stark Industries call.
If he wanted to earn money in the most banally evil way, he could become a corporate lobbyist for a defence contractor given that he already knows the Secretary of Defence, presumably the President and is a freaking Avenger. Just take a seat on the board of Raytheon and do two hours a week work so they can use your name in their PR material!
Even if he took a regular people job, someone with his skills could easily command a big salary. The Falcon isn’t going to be working in Walmart. Someone with his earning potential, even in a blip-fuelled recession or economic crisis, would have absolutely no trouble getting credit from lenders.
Also I’m pretty sure that if push came to shove, a man with super advanced wing suit and Avengers training could probably somehow steal some money from somewhere without being detected.
It would be hard to not make money.
And even if he finds selling out distasteful, if his family heirlooms are at risk, you’d think he would swallow his pride and do a corporate gig.
The only other way the writers could explain the money problems subplot is that, for some reason, the sister is rejecting his help. Maybe for pride reasons. But there is no evidence that she is doing this given later in the same episode we see her try to leverage Falcon’s celebrity in the bank. So there are no principles at play here.
So, I ask you: What’s the deal with this? Let’s not forget that a few weeks ago we learned that Vision somehow bought land for a house!
Maybe future episodes will explain in more detail why this is a problem. That’s how narrative television tends to work.
Maybe this is one of those comic-book things you’re just supposed to roll with, like how we’re not supposed to question how the Agents of SHIELD could simply call up Thor and solve whatever problem they have in two seconds.
Maybe this is because - as has been reported - the writers want to do some thematic thing around racial inequality and needed to find a heavy-handed way into it? But even though racial inequality is a big, important problem, it doesn’t follow that the famous superhero who just saved the world would be poor2.
In any case, I hope the show finds a way to either explain this better, or hand-wave it away because on the strength of the first episode alone, a talking raccoon with a talking tree friend seems more plausible to me than Falcon being broke.
Don’t worry, I will try to make my next Substack about something political in the real world. Maybe why that thing you like is actually bad, or the thing everyone thinks is actually wrong. You know, the usual bullshit that I do.
Hulk is still around somewhere, but even if Hulk cashes in, it doesn’t mean Sam couldn’t. Buzz Aldrin still earned a handsome living dining out on Apollo 11 even though he is objectively less famous than Neil Armstrong.
The racial progress in the America of the MCU appears to be roughly equivalent to our own universe. So unless the show is going to take a very sharp turn, we’re not talking about Falcon being in a Jesse-Owens-forced-to-ride-the-freight-elevator type situation here.