In a story about two sidekicks trying to cope with the loss of their main character, one of the most quietly important new faces we've met is a sidekick himself.
Young Torres seems like a bit of a giddy kipper when we first encounter him, whooping it up as Falcon sets about killing dozens of nameless heavies to save one kidnapped soldier, and it appears that he genuinely believes Captain America hasn't died, but instead gone to live on the moon and look down on us all.
However improbable it seems right now, the man who pulled a Blue Steel after getting his face stomped on by the Flag Smashers and taking a broken orbital might well be the next Falcon in waiting. Certainly that's what happens in the comics: Joaquìn Torres is saved from kidnapping and some sketchy human-hawk hybrid experimentation by Captain America and later became his full-time sidekick. He's also sort of a vampire in the comics, but that feels like it's on the outer edges of probability in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
What's particularly pointed about Torres' introduction is that it chimes with the themes of patriotism and race in America which the TV show looks like it'll be digging into. Sam, the current Falcon, comes up against institutional racism at the bank when he tries to sort out a loan, and the new Official Captain America seems suspiciously white-bread and gun-oriented. There's a clear distinction between the kind of America which Sam and Torres think is worth fighting for, and the kind of America the man we assume is a US Agent has brought in to rep.
"I see a lot of hopefuls on the Mexican border struggling to get into US," Torres says in a 2017 story. "America means opportunity to them. It means freedom from tyranny. I have a very big place in my heart for freedom."
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