Coming off the heels of the announcement that the new Thor will be female, Marvel has made another change to one of Marvel’s big three (Thor, Captain America, and Iron-Man); namely, Captain America will be black.
The New Captain America
Sam Wilson, otherwise known as the Falcon, will be taking over the mantle of Captain America in the fall. He replaces the original and much loved Captain, Steve Rogers . This isn’t the first time someone new has assumed the role. James “Buckey” Barnes (the Winter Soldier) , donned the super soldier’s mask and shield at one point. But this is the first time an African American has held the honor of being America’s iconic superhero. The Falcon was introduced in September of 1969 (Captain America # 117), and was Marvel’s first African American superhero. As such, he is one of Rogers’ oldest allies, and a fitting choice to succeed him.
The Fall of the Original Captain
In the recent Captain America #21 , Rogers faces off against Ran Shen (the Iron Nail), a former SHIELD agent who was once considered on equal footing with Nick Fury, before going deep undercover in China. Ran Shen drains Rogers of the super soldier serum that imbued Rogers with his powers. The Falcon manages to save Rogers, but with the serum out of his system, both his powers and his youth are gone; he ages rapidly and becomes an old man.
A Trending Shift in Comics
With this latest announcement, we are seeing a significant shift in comics. Comics have always been a form of entertainment, the telling of a story. Whether it was lighthearted and funny, or serious and grim, comics have always provided an escape from the day to day. Some reflect the ideological or political views of their time, while others look towards a more progressive future. We are experiencing more of the latter. What some might consider to be taboo topics, like gender equality, and race, comics is tackling head on with female Thor, and black Captain America.
This is fantastic! Growing up, I was an avid comic book reader, and while I enjoyed escaping the world around me by reading the latest “Amazing Spiderman,” I couldn’t help but notice that there were no mainstream latino superheroes that I could read up on. There were hardly any minority heroes/heroines, let alone mainstream ones. The little boy or girl running to their corner comic book shop on Friday afternoons, won’t have to worry about that.
With superheroes like Miles Morales who is the current Ultimate Spiderman, or Kamala Khan (the first Muslim) Ms. Marvel, adding Thor and Captain America to the list of diverse superheroes, not only makes perfect sense, but is a key indicator of the times we live in. However, it is pretty obvious that not everyone will be thrilled by the decisions Marvel is taking in regards to some of the most popular characters in their history. I grew up with a lot of these characters, and while I couldn’t always relate to them, they still have a place in my geeky heart.
If you grew up with them, Steve Rogers will always be Captain America, Peter Parker will always be Spiderman and that’s fine. Those are the memories you grew up with. What makes this exciting is for the newer generation of comic book enthusiasts, who will be able to relate to the stories they read today. Not too long ago DC’s original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was the first openly gay superhero. The fact is, comics are breaking down barriers that have existed for a very long time, and that is a great thing. Just make sure you don’t call him the “black” Captain America. Captain America will do just fine.