Danny Ramirez is worried about spoiling the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Solider.
The 28-year-old actor, a Chicago native of mixed Mexican and Colombian descent, won’t spill to Inverse even his favorite fighters in the retro arcade game Marvel vs. Capcom — his biggest entryway into the Marvel Universe — for fear of saying too much. But he’s nonetheless excited for his Marvel movie future.
“I feel like there’s going to be something fun with this,” he tells Inverse, “that I don’t want to even lean in yet.”
Still, the young actor feels spiritually connected to his latest onscreen role of Joaquín Torres, a member of the U.S. Air Force, in the newest Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.
“When I met [series star] Anthony [Mackie], I was like, ‘There’s something real with that through-line,’” Ramirez says. “It’s a privilege to be someone’s sidekick to someone you respect and you’re just geeked out about.”
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the second Marvel series on Disney+ follows Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they fight a group of anarchists who feel alienated after the world-altering event known as “The Blip.” Standing in their way is a “new” Captain America, a soldier named John Walker (Wyatt Russell) who has just shown he is unfit to carry the shield.
“I was told not to get straight into that, but just to know there’s a nice little nod in some regard there.”
“It’s an incredibly important show, especially in the times we’re in right now,” Ramirez says of the series’ bold exploration of systemic racism and the maltreatment of war veterans, all through the Marvel filter. “There’s not a lot of superhero storylines that bring in the zeitgeist and the current social-political climate, especially in the U.S. pre or post-election.”
It’s a Marvel show, Ramirez says, but it’s a show with a point. “It’s you sitting there once a week having an amazing adventure but also not shy away from the conversation that needs to be had, which is a conversation with Sam, with Bucky, with Joaquín. I’m getting texts from friends saying, ‘Wow this show is not pulling punches.’ I think that makes it exceptionally special.”
The finale, set to air Friday, April 23, will wrap up the show’s first season and will more than likely end with Sam Wilson taking up the shield as the new Captain America of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But who will take up the wings of Sam’s previous identity, The Falcon? Well, that’s where Joaquín Torres (might) come in.
Introduced in 2015 in the pages of Captain America: Sam Wilson by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña, Joaquín Torres is a Mexican immigrant who was kidnapped by an evil supergroup who conducted experiments on Joaquín using blood samples from Falcon’s own partner, Redwing (who is an actual falcon in the comics, as opposed to the MCU’s drone version of Redwing). The result was Joaquín becoming a half-human, half-falcon. Taken under the rather literal wing of Sam Wilson, who was now headlining as Captain America, Joaquin soars to the skies in Sam’s previous mantle.
That’s what happened in the comics, at least. Will it happen in the MCU? Ramirez won’t say, but the actor did brush up on Joaquín’s comic book history after landing the role of a lifetime.
“It was one of the first things that I did when I found out the full name and everything,” Ramirez says. “I went and got myself five of the comics that he appears in. I was told not to get straight into that, but just to know there’s a nice little nod in some regard there.”
Not for nothing, but the latest episode did have Sam tell Joaquín to “keep ‘em” when Joaquín asked Sam about leaving his wings behind. Again, Ramirez fears the fury of Marvel executives if he says too much. “That’s as much as I can say!”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier isn’t Ramirez’s first brush with the Marvel Universe. In 2017, Ramirez had a recurring guest role as “Wes,” a mutant with the power of illusions, in the X-Men television series The Gifted. But Ramirez says Wes is very different from Joaquín.
“Wes was kind of a drifter,” he says. “As a mutant, his powers of illusion and mirages came out of survival. He was in between the bushes trying to make ends meet. Joaquín had a different way into [his] story. I don’t want to spoil anything, but they’re inherently different people from different backgrounds and they have a different purpose.”
With The Falcon and the Winter Soldier not only exploring the legacy of Captain America but the concept of “sidekicks” in superhero stories, Ramirez feels Joaquín is earnestly excited to be in a position that Sam and Bucky have outgrown. “I think there’s something exciting about being a sidekick, in the extent it’s teamwork,” Ramirez says. He continues:
“There’s funny bits between Sam and Bucky [as] coworkers. But Joaquín, I think he’s so excited about who they are and how he’s heard about them in the world. Like, Sam is Falcon, and the fact he gets to work with him, it’s a privilege and an honor. He’s over the moon to walkie talkie or FaceTime [with Sam].”
Joaquín’s enthusiasm to hang with an Avenger is not unlike Danny Ramirez having a role in the MCU. Hearing Danny talk about Joaquín, you get the impression he’s talking about himself.
“I think in his [Joaquín’s] youth and in his embracing of the world, if he knew Sam considered him a sidekick— if he was a sidekick, I can’t say yet — he’d be over the moon.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streams its final episode April 23 on Disney+.