Recently, Deadline broke the news that actor Carl Lumbly (Doctor Sleep, Alias) had joined the upcoming Disney+ series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Comic book fans may recognize Lumby from Supergirl where he plays M’yrnn J’onzz, and some astute listeners might also recognize his voice as Uncle S’Yan from the 2010 Black Panther animated series.
While Lumby’s role in Falcon and the Winter Soldier remains a secret, Deadline did bring up speculation that Lumby will be playing Isaiah Bradley, introduced in the limited comic series Truth: Red, White, & Black by the late Robert Morales and Kyle Baker. Bradley is a significant character, who is subjected to cruel experiments that attempt to recreate the super soldier serum that allowed Steve Rogers to become Captain America, giving a darker edge to the full story of the star-spangled hero. With Falcon and the Winter Soldier dealing with Sam’s decision to take up the mantle, Bradley would be a welcome addition and many fans in the online sphere have already begun theorizing that Isaiah Bradley’s potential appearance here might lead to his relative, Elijah Bradley aka Patriot, showing up down the line.
However, I remain skeptical at this concept, in large part because of the Bradley family’s absence at Marvel. Despite Isaiah, Elijah, and a third member of the family, Josiah, being introduced in relatively rapid succession between 2003 and 2005, none of the characters have had a significant presence in the comics since 2012. In fact, they’ve largely been absent, even from cameo appearances. And while many characters in comics do often fade into the background until a writer or artist decides to use them, this doesn’t seem to be as simple.
In multiple interviews regarding the 2012 reboot of the Young Avengers book, writer Kieron Gillen stated that “I can’t use Eli” and that “when I was told that Eli (Patriot) was unavailable, I wanted someone in the red, white, and blue…”. Further, when editor, Tom Brevoort was asked about Patriot’s whereabouts in 2014, Brevoort replied – “He retired and moved to the midwest at the end of AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE.” And finally, when discussing the cast Black Panther and the Crew series with TIME, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates said, “I was going to try to do it with the same members that [Christopher Priest, writer of the original The Crew series] had. But it became clear that certain characters would not be available for various reasons. So I decided to think about it in a different way and think about something new.”
Considering that the titular team of Priest’s The Crew consisted of four members: James Rhodes aka War Machine, Justice aka Josiah Bradley, White Tiger aka Kevin “Kasper” Cole, and Junta aka Danny Vincent, there’s not a lot of room for interpretation. While Rhodes had been killed previously in the crossover event, Civil War II, there was nothing readily apparent in the way of Coates using the other three heroes. In fact, Coates used Kasper within his Black Panther series and Vincent was a minor character who had only appeared in Priest’s Black Panther series and The Crew. So what was the issue with Josiah?
The absence of the Bradley family members is bizarre, but perhaps no more than a string of coincidences. Perhaps editors have earmarked one or more of the characters for a story and that story never materialized. But a quick search through message boards leads to theories about lawsuits and gag orders between the estate of Robert Morales and Marvel. In my research, I could find nothing substantive to support this speculation, so I’ll leave it as such.
On the bright side, if you believe in corporate synergy, Marvel did release this piece on the Bradley family by Karama Horne on Tuesday, so if there were any issues, perhaps they have been resolved and the Bradley legacy is now ready to carry on to a new medium in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I certainly hope so. Just call me a bit skeptical when it comes to the rumors.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to debut on Disney+ later this year.