FALCON & WINTER SOLDIER: Who’s BATTLESTAR?
Look, True Believers, here at Marvel Blog, we have to assume that you’re getting used to the drill! A new episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Star-Spangled Man,” was released for streaming on Disney+ on Friday, March 26th, 2021.
If you haven’t had a chance to see that episode yet, and you want to avoid spoilers, then navigate away from this page now! Why don’t you go learn more about the upcoming stop-animated series on Hulu, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., which had a very interesting panel at WonderCon 2021 over the weekend!
Oh, boy! Did we meet a lot of new characters in the second episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, or what? In addition to Isaiah Bradley and his grandson, Eli Bradley, we also met a character who seems to be something of an ally to John Walker: Lemar Hoskins (A.K.A. Battlestar)!
Played by Clé Bennett, the relationship Hoskins has with Walker (Wyatt Russell) seems to be something of a foil for the relationship that Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).
However, devoted readers of Marvel Comics know that there’s another name adopted by Hoskins….
Who’s LEMAR HOSKINS?
The character first appeared in Captain America #323 (1986) by Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary, John Beatty, Diana Albers, and Ken Feduniewicz. If this issue seems somewhat familiar to you, perhaps it’s because it’s also the first appearance of John Walker, which we covered last week here at Marvel Blog!
As we mentioned last week, Walker first confronts Steve Rogers by putting on a staged performance that pits Walker against “the Buckies” (short for “Bold Urban Commandos”). The leader of this team of “opponents” (who are actually allies of Walker taking part in a choreographed battle) is Lemar, making his first (unnamed) appearance in this issue.
In Captain America #334 (1987) by Gruenwald, Tom Morgan, Dave Hunt, Ken Lopez, and Feduniewicz, readers learned the full name “Lemar Hoskins,” just as he became the fifth character to officially adopt the identity of Bucky in the Marvel Comics universe.
However, the name “Bucky” was an offensive designation for the character. As pointed out by seminal comics creator Dwayne McDuffie, the name sounds very similar to a word that has a history of being used as a derogatory term for Black men in the United States.
Furthermore, it was insulting to have an adult Black man take on the role of a “sidekick,” typically considered a more suitable occupation for a teenager (like the original Bucky, or one of the most common depictions of Batman’s sidekick Robin over at DC Comics).
Fortunately, McDuffie was able to work with Gruenwald to write a new narrative for Hoskins.
In Captain America #341 (1988), in a special story called “Stan Lee Presents Captain America: Free Speech” by Gruenwald, McDuffie, Kieron Dwyer, Al Milgrom, Jack Morelli, and Bob Sharen, readers got their first glimpse of Battlestar’s new name, identity, and fresh uniform.
In that story, a Black man explains to Hoskins exactly why it isn’t appropriate for him to be appearing as Bucky, explicitly noting that the name has its origins as the name of white teenaged character who was Cap’s sidekick and explaining the racist history of the word associated with the nickname.
The story goes on to have Walker help premiere Battlestar’s new persona and costume at a press conference, where Cap makes it clear to everyone that Battlestar should be recognized to be his partner, not his sidekick – an important distinction!
A Faustian Deal?
However, in the Marvel Comics universe, both Walker and Hoskins make a Faustian deal with the Power Brokers, a group that was mentioned by name in last week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Could the onscreen versions of the characters be making a similar ill-informed agreement… or have they already done so?
Only time will tell, True Believers, but while we’re waiting, be sure and let Marvel Blog know what your suspicions are in the comment section!