Marvel continues to expand their conglomerate and compete with other comic book industries by changing the faces of their most iconic heroes. Following the change of Thor from God of Thunder to Goddess, Marvel gives a new look and identity to one of their most well known heroes – Captain America. Changing from the usual white hero draped in the American-flag embedded suit, Captain America is now African-American superhero Sam Wilson, also known as, The Falcon.
The news of Captain America’s change comes fresh off the heels of Marvel’s Avengers NOW! Initiative. Teased earlier in July, the news was confirmed this week by Chief Creative Executive Joe Quesada during an interview with Stephen Colbert. This alteration to the well-received character coincides with a change to the classic Thor mantle and, later, a change in Iron Man. No longer will the core powerhouses of the Avengers’ team be the same, as Marvel makes ready for a new generation of ever-changing and diverse superheroes.
Considering that the Captain America title has gone through several different characters portraying the iconic character, the news that Marvel is changing the man-behind-the-mask again should not come as a surprise. Originally created in the 1940’s by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Captain America is a product of a super soldier serum developed during World War II to find a new way to combat enemies and promote patriotism. The first to wear the mask and sport the signature American shield was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Steve Rogers. Over the years, the mantle has been passed down/around to several different characters in the franchise. Roger’s sidekick Bucky Barnes, US Agent Isaiah Bradley, and more, have all been given the chance to put on the mask and claim the title. The most recent change of Sam Wilson becoming the new hero is due to the draining of Roger’s super-soldier serum that has left the character to age drastically and lose all his powers.
Sam Wilson is no stranger to the Captain America franchise. Widely known as The Falcon, Wilson has been a best friend to Rogers for years. Working alongside the hero, The Falcon has become a staple in the Captain America series and throughout the Marvel Universe. The character was even brought to the big screen in the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie, starring Anthony Mackie as The Falcon.
Although news of the change for one of Marvel’s most iconic heroes comes as a bit of a surprise for some, this is not the first time that the company has taken a positive step towards diversity in its most recognizable characters. From changing the uber-masculine character Thor into a woman, making a black Nick Fury one of the more notorious and recognizable characters in the movies and comics, turning Spider-Man into a young Spanish/black inner New York city teenager named Miles Morales in the Ultimate series, portraying a gay wedding in the X-Men comic series, to developing the new Ms. Marvel as a 16-year old Pakistani-American Muslim, Marvel has begun to make their characters just as diverse as their readers. Though these changes should not be shocking or jaw dropping, they send out a message to young readers that changes the former status quo of a white male superhero always saving the day.
By Tyler Cole