Why the New Captain America Matters
It’s taken awhile, but comic book superheroes are finally catching up with the times. First we find out that the next Thor will be a woman, and now comes the announcement from Marvel comics that their next Captain America will be black.
We’re loving the diversification Marvel has been throwing into their universe, and even more so that their explanations for the evolution of beloved characters is a natural progression (granted, it’s long in coming). As Marvel writer Rick Remender says, “I think that it’s important with these stories to do things that are natural and make sense and have an inherent logic to the universe, but are also constantly shifting and exciting, keeping the drama high. In order to do that it really comes down to creating new dynamics.”
With the premiere of the All New Captain America series the world will be introduced to a new Captain America named Sam Wilson, currently known as Falcon. Here’s the backstory: Steve Rogers, aka former Captain America, is basically a super old man and in the transformative issue where he’s replaced, a foe essentially drains him of the super serum keeping him young and vital. Not that there shouldn’t be super old heroes, but it’s natural that one of his best buddies, Falcon, steps up to the plate to replace him. And though his body may be weak, Steve’s spirit is still going to be strongly willing as he acts as a strategic mastermind for the all new Captain.
In recent years, Marvel has been making steps to change the male-dominated, white-washed landscape of their comic world. In 2011, they introduced a black-Hispanic Spider-Man, and earlier this year they created a Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel. As with the female Thor, our new Captain America will appeal to a wider audience, and inspire a new generation of readers who can relate more to their favorite superheroes.
Some may criticize the fact that moving Falcon into the role of the Cap isn’t really adding anything new to the mix since their essentially swapping characters. It’s not like their adding more characters of color, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that Captain America is one of the most famed, beloved, and iconic heroes on the block—the kind of guy a young comic book reader can look up to. And I think it does mean something to have a black character move into that role in a meaningful way that makes sense within the context of their universe. And while he doesn’t have Steve’s military background or super strength, the dude can freakin’ fly.
Seriously. Captain America with the power of flight? Yes, please.
Image via Marvel