Note: This article includes Avengers: Endgame spoilers. Proceed at your own risk
The Avengers movie franchise has had a relationship with the US Air Force and Pararescue throughout, starting at the very beginning with Iron Man 1. But at the end of the latest Endgame movie, we are presented with a huge whammy that could ultimately change the future relationship of Marvel and Air Force Special Warfare. Interested? Let’s dive in…
Iron Man and the 58 RQS
It all started in preparation for filming Iron Man, when actor Terrence Howard visited Nellis AFB in 2007 for a military immersion. As the original War Machine actor (eventually replaced by Don Cheadle), Howard toured various units at Nellis to include the Rescue Squadrons of the 66 RQS (HH-60Gs) and 58 RQS (Pararescue).
The visit by Howard helped propel a (small) participation of the 58 & 66 RQS in the Iron Man film. The HH-60G and real-world PJs played the role of the rescue team of Tony Stark early on in the film.
Sam Wilson the PJ
Pararescue appeared again in Marvel-world during Captain America: Winter Soldier. At the start of the film, Steve Rodgers is out for a leisurely jog (ahem, sprint) when he bumps into another veteran on the D.C. mall. The vet introduces himself as Sam Wilson, Pararescueman from the 58th.
The Pararescue name and the 58th Rescue Squadron re-appearance in the Avenger franchise is most likely not a coincidence. While the 58th and PJs were never mentioned by name in Iron Man, the support to the film seems to have paid off via the big character plug in Winter Soldier.
To add clarification on Sam Wilson’s role as a PJ, a conversation later on in Winter Soldier confirms (and also slightly confuses) the matter. During the scene at the VA, Wilson talks to Steve Rogers about losing one of his wingmen to an RPG shoot-down on a PJ operation. The term ‘Wingman’ is rarely, if ever used in operator-land and ‘shot down by an RPG’ muddies the water temporarily between Sam’s PJ vs pilot identity. In the end, based off of Sam Wilson’s 58th Pararescue unit (e.g. 58 RQS at Nellis) and stating he was on a standard PJ op, it is clear Sam Wilson is a PJ and not a pilot.
Falcon the Pararescueman
Sam Wilson introduces the EXO-7 Falcon suit to Captain America and Black Widow later on in Winter Soldier and clarifies he was not a pilot after all and shows off his operator roots.
…And we are introduced to Falcon; Captain America’s high flying teammate. Sam Wilson’s Falcon character continues showing up in the Avenger films (Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Infinity War and Avengers Endgame), showing the importance of the character in the movie plots. And while Falcon the PJ had a significant role, he was never one of the lead Avengers. His place was always as a loyal side-kick teammate to Captain America.
Captain America & Endgame
There’s a lot going on in Endgame with Captain America and Falcon, but we’re really interested in the end of the movie. There we find old Steve Rogers sitting down, awaiting his friend Sam Wilson (Falcon). Rogers gifts Falcon with his Captain America shield.
“How’s it feel?” asks Rogers.
“Like it’s someone else’s” responds Wilson.
“It isn’t” Rogers says, relinquishing Captain America to Sam Wilson.
The New Captain America
If you’ve been paying attention you’ve already figured it out.
Sam Wilson = Pararescueman
Pararescueman = Falcon
Falcon = The new Captain America
In the Marvel Cinema universe…
CAPTAIN AMERICA IS NOW A PJ
And if there’s any doubt about the possibility of Sam Wilson to convert from Falcon to Captain America, check out the Marvel comic book universe where Falcon took over Captain America (and leader of Avengers) role in 2014.
And while the main-stream Avengers series has come to an apparent conclusion with Endgame, Disney Studios and Marvel are far from done producing Avengers material. Future movies featuring Spiderman, Black Widow, Guardians and Dr Strange have all been confirmed. Additionally Disney+ (Disney’s new streaming service), has multiple Marvel series in the works that include Falcon and Winter Soldier. Expect that series to get a re-naming after the Falcon -> Captain America transition. (If interested, check out Screenrant’s deep dive into post-Endgame productions for more info on the future state of Marvel).
We are excited to see what’s next for Captain America, the PJ. What’s next on the docket? Additional AFSOC & Air Force involvement? Additional Pararescue teammates? We’re not sure where its exactly going, but we can’t wait to find out.