The MCU keeps mocking superhero nicknames, and The Falcon and the Winter Solider is latest to continue the tradition. The iconic superhero names of heroes are often made fun of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that was highlighted throughout Avengers: Infinity War when several heroes met each other for the first time. While it likely comes from a desire to make the universe feel more real and grounded, it is something that now feels odd given that the MCU is a place affected by magic, talking raccoons and trees, and reality-shifting events.
The concept of making light of characters’ iconic identities began with the first Iron Man, despite Tony Stark’s quick willingness to accept the name, which came from the press. While Tony thought it was catchy, he did point out that it’s not exactly accurate as his suit is really a gold titanium alloy. What’s interesting is that there’s more of an acceptance for names if there’s some sort of context behind them. For example, Captain America was a name chosen for Steve Rogers not with the intention for him to go out and be a hero, but to serve as a character for the U.S’ propaganda war efforts. He would then keep the name once he proved himself on the battlefield. King T’Challa’s Black Panther is a mantle of his culture that’s been handed down for generations. Furthermore, more widely accepted names are those such as Black Widow and Hawkeye, as those were codenames before they became their Avenger identities.
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However, there’s just as many iconic names from the comics that were initially made fun of a lot, such as Spider-Man and Star-Lord, whose aliases were chosen by the characters themselves. And even heroes who keep their own names, like Thor and Doctor Strange, are “strange” enough to still have their names be initially mocked in the films. The new MCU shows on Disney+ continue the tradition as well. Marvel’s WandaVision had SWORD director Tyler Hayward asking if Wanda Maximoff had an alias or a “funny nickname”, as it hadn’t yet been learned in the series that she is the Scarlet Witch, a being of immense power. Now, the series premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is doing the same thing with their newly introduced villains who call themselves the Flag Smashers, prompting Sam Wilson to ask if the new thing is bad guys giving themselves bad names.
This tradition of rarely accepting names from the get-go more than likely comes from a two-fold desire by Marvel Studios to have their stories feel more grounded and realistic than the comics, as well as for the names to be gradually earned over time. While the colorful identities and aliases of characters do eventually become accepted into the greater MCU, the tradition of having them not be openly received right away seems like it’s not going away any time soon.
Even so, in a universe where all kinds of cosmic and magical events are becoming more and more frequent, it does seem as though this tradition makes less sense. The reception to a colorful name and identity does seem small in comparison in a universe filling up with all kinds of colorful heroes and villains. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what the Flag Smashers have planned, who they might be working for, and whether or not their name will become earned in the MCU by the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Source: Screen Rant