“It would be a whole lot easier if I had Cap’s wingman on my side.” Unfortunately for John Walker, that’s not going to be the case, which means things between him and Sam Wilson are only going to be resolved the hard way: with broken bones and bruised egos.
For Falcon and Winter Soldier hero Sam Wilson, John Walker is not only an affront to Steve Rogers’ legacy but a shining beacon of America’s systemic issues where a more qualified Black man is passed over in favor of a less-qualified white man. Where Sam has compassion and objectivity, Walker is a government lackey, whose opinions only extend so far as what’s right for America.
Wilson and Walker are heading for a smackdown in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. How that fight plays out in the grand scheme of things is anyone’s guess as of this writing, but for now, an Inversus battle will pit these heroic examples of the idea of “two Americas” against each other to determine the victor.
Inversus is an Inverse series that pits the best of the best against each other from all corners of the superhero omniverse.
In the Red Corner: Falcon (Sam Wilson)
First appearing in Marvel Comics’ 1969 comic book Captain America #117 and later in the MCU in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Falcon has been one of Captain America’s longest-running allies, eventually taking up the role himself in the comics in 2014.
While Avengers: Endgame set Sam on the path to becoming the next Captain America, he’s faced his share of setbacks in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, namely in the form of John Walker. He’s now found himself questioning if there should even be a Captain America.
Falcon’s powers include a mastery of flight, thanks to his wing harness, and fighting abilities that make him one of the best hand-to-hand combatants in the Marvel Universe, thanks to his training from Steve Rogers. And in the comics, he also possesses avian telepathy (he talks to birds, and they talk back). But Sam’s greatest ability is his sense of goodness. He is a righteous man, always ready to lend his support for the right cause, even if it’s not the popular one.
In the Blue Corner: John Walker
First appearing in 1986’s Captain America #323, and later making his MCU debut in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, John Walker briefly wore Captain America’s mantle, before eventually giving the uniform and shield back.
Walker went on to take the name U.S. Agent, becoming a member of the West Coast Avengers, though his right-wing ideologies and PTSD caused his teammates a fair share of unease, and issues down the line.
In the comics, Walker possesses superhuman strength, stamina, agility, reflexes, and durability. He’s a master combatant, having been trained by the Taskmaster. What he lacks in Steve Rogers’ experience he makes up for in his brutal methods.
Falcon vs. John Walker: Comic Book History
Wanna see these two Avengers go head-to-head? Here’s your recommended reading:
Captain America: Sam Wilson #13 (2015): Walker, at the behest of America’s conservative politicians, attempts to get Sam to hand over the shield. After a brutal fight, Sam Wilson emerges the victor and reaffirms that he is Captain America — and Walker can’t do a thing about it.
Falcon vs. John Walker: Fight!
Falcon flies onto a HYDRA base in the middle of the jungle, and to his surprise, he finds all of the agents already dispatched. Many are dead. The few left alive are groaning over their injuries. Sam spots the perpetrator: John Walker, the U.S. Agent.
“Walker, we needed these agents for information,” says Sam, landing in front of Walker. “They were our only lead to Zola’s plans.”
“U.S. government said otherwise, flyboy,” Walker retorts. He hears one of the HYDRA agents behind him grunt in pain. Walker removes his gun from his holster.
“Don’t do it, John,” Sam says. Walker ignores him, and Sam grabs his arm forcing his shot to go astray. The HYDRA agent manages to run into the thick of the forest.
Walker punches Sam hard in the gut. “You let the scum get away,” he says.
Sam recovers, extends one wing, and spins. The razor-sharp edge catches Walker across the bridge of his nose, leaving a deep gash. Walker swings again, hard. Sam dodges.
“Why don’t you take off those wings, and fight me hand to hand, bird man?” Walker says.
“I’m not Steve. I don’t have anything to prove to you,” Sam responds. He knows he’s going to have to keep his distance if he wants to win. He also knows he has to make this quick if he’s going to catch the runaway HYDRA goon. He can’t match Walker’s brute strength.
Or can he?
Sam flies upward, concentrating as he does so, connecting to the jungle. Walker throws his shield, and Sam dodges, without breaking his concentration. He reaches out to all of the birds in the jungle. The air is still, then the leaves of the forest begin to rustle, louder, and louder until the sound is deafening.
Walker looks up and sees thousands of birds, of every native species, in the air above him. They swoop past Sam and pummel into Walker, beaks and talons shredding his costume and flesh, before taking their leave. Left on the floor: Walker, a pulpy mass of scar tissue.
Falcon vs. John Walker: The Verdict
Sam Wilson knew he couldn’t beat Walker’s sheer strength in hand-to-hand combat, but he’s a smarter fighter, having learned tactical skills from Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. And as a former counselor, Sam understands Walker’s constant need to prove himself as the stronger man and better fighter.
By not sinking to his level, and not feeling insecure about relying on help from friends, Sam Wilson proved to not only be the smarter combatant but the more efficient one as well.
The Inversus winner is… Sam Wilson, the Falcon!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney+.