Rick Remender: One of the reasons I was drawn to writing him, and one of the reasons I wanted to do this, is if you look at Marvel history where he would land right now, that would make him Generation X.
He grew up when I grew up, and he grew up at a time that was increasingly more violent from the late 80s into the mid 90s.
Sam's story reflects that era, in that he was a kid who was disenfranchised and dealing with racism. He didn't have a lot of hope. But he's got a father who's a minister, and in the Marvel Universe, one of the most prominent popular ministers in Harlem. People come from miles around to listen to his sermon. He preaches about his American dream of tolerance and standing up against oppression, and these concepts that Sam cant buy into because he's not necessarily apathetic, as much as he is a jaded teenager.
His father is killed trying to stop a fight. And Sam becomes untethered. He's spiraling. And things get worse when his mother is gunned down by a mugger not long after his father's death.
I'm using this to build the character quite a bit. It's his origin. It's what was set up way back when. But it's not something that's we've seen examined a lot of. What [these events] end up giving us is this kid who's disenfranchised, jaded, and cynical listening to his whole life and his father and mother, trying to teach him to choose his own path but also absorb the dream that they are presenting. He doesn't get it until they are both dead. And he recognizes the gap they've left — the hole they've left in the community.
He has to then rise, rise in the same way Steve Rogers had to rise after the Great Depression. And he has to make a promise that he will do everything that he can to make sure that people have a defender. He believes in solving the community's problems from the inside.