WE KNOW Miles Morales.
Miles Morales is like a friend to us.
You, sir — Mr. Sam Wilson — are no Miles Morales.
And that’s a good thing.
When Miles was introduced a couple of years back as the new, biracial Spider-Man, the news rippled out like shock waves.
Thankfully, in 2014, the announcement overnight that Wilson will be the new Captain America doesn’t strike like some out-of-the-blue spangled surprise.
Wilson is a Marvel Comics icon — one of the most relevant and long-lasting African American superheroes in comics today. On that count, he is right up there with the Black Panther and John Stewart of the Green Lantern Corps.
So the news that Wilson, aka the Falcon, will become the new/black Captain America this fall — as announced by Marvel boss Joe Quesada late Wednesday on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” — isn’t nearly the Big Bang of a moment as when Morales was revealed to be a half-black/half-Latino Spider-Man.
[MILES MORALES & ME: Why a biracial Spider-Man matters]
The debut of Morales was the genesis of Marvel deciding that its universe’s heroes needed to properly reflect the diversity of their (most of the time) New York base of operations. If a kid was swinging around this city on webs, in a mask, covering his whole face, then simple real-life Census numbers dictated that the chances were fair that he/she might be a minority. Marvel’s initial debut of this Ultimate Comics line helped remedy a glaring lack of diversity (minus the Samuel L. Jackson-influenced Nick Fury).
[THE LIST: Our Top 10 Black Superheroes]
Several years later, and a day after revealing that Thor will be a woman come fall, the news of a black Captain America is just another day at the office for the House of Ideas, which is exactly what the debut of Morales set out to do. That being: Expect anything.
Fans of Cap have already seen a black Captain America — in the Marvel mini-series “Truth,” by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker, which suggested that if America was going to build a super soldier with an experimental serum, that there would probably be a few test runs on black soldiers first — especially given the time of Cap’s debut (World War II-era). And there was a long-term substitute (Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier) when Cap “died.”
So what do we have here today? Publicity stunt? Diversity overkill? Black is the new red, white and blue? Let’s examine: Here are 5 Things That Comic Riffs took away from Marvel’s Wednesday-night news:
1. Sam Wilson was the obvious choice
If you’re going to have a story with Captain America losing his youth and strength — as he has to pass his vibranium shield to someone else — really, who else is there to turn to? Bucky? Been there, done that. Tony Stark? Not likely.
Sam being the top choice has nothing to do with him being black and everything to do with his being Cap’s longtime partner and one of his most trusted allies. The choice seems very organic given the storyline of Cap’s losing his serum-enhanced abilities.
2. A fresh take on The Avengers comic
During the initial phase of Marvel: NOW, Jonathan Hickman took on the writing duties of an Avengers squad that mirrored the roster from the recent “Avengers” movie. This new Captain America-led team of Avengers has a few familiar members, but just from the initial promotional art, this looks like the perfect jumping-on point for those who perhaps took a break from Earth’s mightiest heroes after the very long “Infinity” event. Although, something tells us that this Sam Wilson-led Avengers team (with a female Thor) will more closely resemble the original roster as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” nears its arrival in theaters.
3. We’ve been here before — and often
In he “Truth” and “Winter Soldier” stories, do you remember U.S. Agent? No need to act as if this is the first time that Cap hasn’t been behind the shield. Mantles are passed and in many cases, frequently returned in the world of comics. Will the Falcon as Captain America be any different?
4. What does this mean for the movies?
Given the close relationship between Marvel Studios and the comics they draw their inspiration from — and in light of Anthony Mackie’s debut as The Falcon in the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie — one can only wonder whether this move will affect future Marvel flicks. Given that the Winter Soldier and the Falcon will both be in the next Cap movie, is it possible we could see this plot on the big screen?
5. Can the Falcon stand out on his own?
If this is not a permanent move (history says it won’t be), and if Sam Wilson eventually returns to his role as the Falcon, will he have received enough exposure as Captain America to warrant his own series? Should he have already been given a series to begin with?
In short: How much is a good shield worth?
You can follow Betancourt on Twitter at: @adcfanboy.