One of the more powerful moments so far in Falcon and the Winter Soldier thus far revolved around a long-kept secret of Bucky’s: Isaiah Bradley. The powerful scene, played to perfection by Carl Lumbly, showed audiences another dark corner of the Super Soldier Serum’s legacy. It wasn’t an easy exchange to watch unfold.
The character isn’t all that well known. In fact, he’s only been in a handful of comics. Unlike many other comic creations, Marvel never really came back around to use him in future storylines.
So what series of events led to his involvement in Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
HOW DID BRADLEY'S ROLE COME TO BE?
In an interview with Vanity Fair, within their ‘Still Watching’ podcast, Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore was asked about whose idea it was to put Isaiah Bradley into the storyline. Nate Moore was quick to credit Malcolm Spellman, Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s showrunner.
“...That was Malcolm. He said ‘I want to do this, what’s your feeling about this, I know it was a controversial comic.’ And I said it would be great. Bradley’s amazing!”
Moore continued on, talking about how he enjoys the character of Isaiah Bradley and had read his debut comic.
“I read Truth: Red, White, and Black a long time ago. I didn’t think the comic was great, but I thought the idea was great. And I think Malcolm was very smart in figuring out how to anchor that story into the overall fabric of the show.”
What is the fabric of the show? The clear answer would be legacy, and that of Cap’s shield. Something that Moore instantly came to.
“...[the fabric] is really about legacy right? It’s about what is the legacy of Cap’s shield, and kind of America. I think if there is an overarching theme, or idea, of the show it wants to interrogate that, and it’s that legacy for everyone. And everybody is going to see that legacy differently.”
The Isaiah Bradley we met in episode two however is far different to his comic book counterpart. In fact, their participation in both couldn’t be more different. Moore broke it down.
“...Isaiah Bradley in the MCU version, which Carl Lumbley has done a fantastic job on, is such a more vocal participant in that conversation than he was in the books. Because he was a vegetable, and was infantilized, and sort of had all the agency taken out of him. Malcolm gave him all the agency back, and now he’s a character that can actually have a conversation about what the show’s about.
Moore continued, elaborating on how it all affects Sam Wilson and his journey and teasing that there will be "more to come" of Isaiah's story.
“And really weigh on the things I think are subconscious in Sam’s character, Isaiah gets to make them conscious, he gets to bring them out. And I think that’s such an important character, and more to come, but I think that’s why the Isaiah Bradley inclusion was so great. And again all credit goes to Malcolm for really advocating for that.”
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It’s always a treat when a more unknown character gets pulled from obscurity, and thrown into the spotlight. Even more than that, when they get to be a part of complex stories. On a larger scale, this is not very different to what Marvel did with The Guardians of the Galaxy, before they were the household names that they are today.
Thankfully, as hinted by Moore at the end of the segment, Isaiah Bradley is likely to make a return at some point. This isn’t really too much of a surprise, given how big a part his son is likely to play in the future. In the comics, Elijah Bradley is one of the founding members of The Young Avengers.
It would be really neat to see Isaiah Bradley potentially play a mentor role for not only Elijah, but the entire Young Avengers team. This of course would all be after Sam Wilson finds a way to bring more closure and justice to Bradley. Or at least, one would hope.