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‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Head Writer Malcolm Spellman On Sam’s Journey To Becoming Captain America

Last Friday, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wrapped up its six-episode series with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), formerly knows as The Falcon, officially becoming the new Captain America. Though, it wasn’t an easy decision for Sam. Literally, almost everyone was telling Sam that becoming Captain America was a bad idea and Sam struggled with what that means for a Black man to wear that uniform.

After the series ended we spoke to head writer Malcolm Spellman who explained why Sam’s journey had to be layered in the truth. And how he and his writing team got Sam to a place where the decision felt like the right thing to do. Also, Spellman takes us through the speech Sam gives in the final episode that he and Mackie worked on together – and that, hey, you aren’t required to like it. You may have thought it was boring. But, for Spellman and Mackie, it came from an honest place.

Also, rumors are flying that Spellman will be writing the fourth Captain America movies (which, yes, would make a lot of sense), but he’s not quite ready to confirm that’s true.

Well, first of all, congratulations on not just the show, but now getting to do the Captain America movie. That’s exciting.

Yeah, it is, it is. I mean, I haven’t confirmed a movie, but doing the show was literally a dream come true.

Oh, I didn’t realize that this was not confirmed by you yet.

Well, it was a news story in the way that Mephisto was maybe going to be appearing in our series.

I see.

You know what I’m saying?

Well, Mephisto didn’t happen. Some people were very sure of themselves about that. Do you laugh when that happens? Are you like, “Okay, well, if you think so?”

Well, you’ve got to be careful, because the fans get a lot of shit right. You know what I’m saying? Sometimes they get on a run and you’re like, “Wait a minute. How did they chalk it down? Maybe Mephisto is going to be in the series and no one told me?”

So, in the fifth episode, from a writing standpoint, how do you get from where literally everyone’s telling Sam, “Do not do this”? Bradley is very much against Sam becoming Captain America. How do you then get to Sam making the decision to do it?

That was the mission statement from the beginning, Mike, to make this as difficult as possible for Sam and to do it with the truth. And, in fact, that episode is called “Truth.” And we wanted to make sure that Sarah, his sister, and Isaiah were not wrong in anything they said. We didn’t want Sam to get to the end of this run and pick up the mantle and just say, “Oh, well, it turns out everyone’s wrong. It’s all good for a Black man to be carrying this mantle without any trepidation.” It just makes it more compelling if you allow the truth of the characters to make this journey difficult.

So then we get Sam’s impassioned speech in the last episode. which I really liked. I did notice there were some on social media who weren’t into it. But it felt like, and tell me if I’m wrong, but it felt like here’s a Black man as Captain America for the first time on screen, and you and your writing staff get to speak through him for the first time and probably had a lot to say. It felt like a lot of stuff was coming through.

Yeah. It is. And the only people I’ve seen have issues with it are people with loud voices, who have issues with anything that doesn’t jibe with their worldview. You know what I’m saying? Because sitting with that… I worked on that speech with Anthony side by side, and the agenda was to let the truth of the character come out and how he sees the world. Not to show up and get on no pulpit. And by the way, one of the things Anthony wanted to make sure of is he was the one who sort of asked us to direct it at the senator so that it didn’t feel like a speech, like he’s talking to somebody and he’s trying to convince that senator. As the new Captain America, we believe that his primary superpower isn’t just that he believes we can do better, which he says in the series. It’s that he, as a Black man, particularly one from the South, understands struggle in his bones and has a shorthand with anyone who feels like they’re struggling. And we would argue that the climate in the MCU matches the climate today in the world. And everybody, including people from rich countries, feels like they’re struggling, which means Sam as Cap has a shorthand with them.

When you did say “people with loud voices” who it didn’t jibe with — you asked if I know what that mean. I think so…

Well, I’m not…

I don’t want to get you in hot water.

Yeah, it’s not even a hot water thing. It’s that because I’m not really on social, there’s not much I can do. You get what it is, man. You see who’s out there and you see the tenor. Everyone knows the truth, man. People can pretend and people are getting very, very savvy at how they package what the truth of what they’re saying is, but we see through it. And it is what it is. By the way, you aren’t required to like it. You can think it’s boring. You can think it’s this or that, but where it came from was that character.

I kind of got annoyed at the criticism that, “some of it was cheesy.” Because Christopher Reeve gave very cheesy speeches in Superman. So why can’t Sam say a couple of cheesy things, too?

Listen, I will promise you this, way more people were feeling it, and it felt honest for the character.

I’m curious, every time Sam and Bucky would talk about Steve Rogers, was that tricky to do? Because when we left off in Endgame, the guy’s still alive, but you kind of have to make it sound like he’s gone. How tricky was that?

Well, it wasn’t. Marvel was like, “You ain’t going to see him.” So I don’t know where! He’s gone, as far as I’m concerned. He wasn’t going to be in our series. So wherever he is, he’s not anywhere we can access. So we just wrote it honestly. We wouldn’t lie to nobody.

I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Wyatt Russell…

Crushed it.

How do you get from an episode where he literally murdered a man in the street with blood on the shield, to, by the end, as US Agent, I’m like, “Well, I can still watch this guy.” I should be furious, but there’s still part of me that’s so interested in him.

Got to blame the actor for having that kind of range.

Right.

He’s gifted, and he knew how to do that dance: when you hate him, he’s making you hate him. When you understand him and feel him, that’s him, that’s Wyatt doing that. That’s the skills.

Also part of it is he’s not wearing the Captain America uniform and Sam is…

That has helped. He did get beat up and lose the shield, too.

I think I’m out of time. And if that rumored story winds up coming true, congratulations on that.

I really appreciate it, man.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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