Sam Wilson is Captain America (Not Captain African-America)
By Andy Frisk
July 17, 2014 - 22:42
Steve Rodgers has been replaced as Captain America an great number of times over the course of his tenure as the Star Spangled Avenger. Most recently, and most effectively (from a storytelling perspective), he was replaced by Bucky Barnes while he was "dead." Well, after being back for only a few years as Cap, returning just in time for the character's big screen debut, Steve Rodgers is once again going through a dramatic crisis that will render him impotent as the Sentinel of Liberty. It appears that he has "lost" his super soldier serum and therefore his virility and ability. Enter Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, aka Steve's one time long termed crime fighting partner, as the new Captain America. At least until Avengers Age of Ultron hits the big screen...one would think...
Long termed ComicBookBin readers might remember that I was a big proponent of leaving Steve Rodgers dead after the events of Civil War. I really felt that Bucky Barnes represented America's contemporary politics and history a little better. Yeah, for many around the world, America is still the "shining city upon the hill," but for many it is a violent interventionist superpower that starts wars for dubious reasons. Bucky Barnes represented the new (and slightly ahead of its time) gun toting, mechanized man with some skeletons in the closet America. There was no way that Marvel Comics would (or would have the stones to) leave such an iconic character dead, and Steve came roaring back to don the red, white, and blue again. Things might be a little different this time though...
For the first time a minority character will bear the shield, and Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, makes sense on many levels to take up the mantle of Captain America (at least until the movie screen demands require yet another "return of Steve Rodgers"). Sam Wilson as Captain America isn't without its own inherent problems that are more systemic than specific to Sam though.
With the ever growing economic inequality becoming more and more of an issue in America, and Sam being a life long social worker, Sam might just have a better "focus on the plight of the common man, and perhaps a greater empathy for the underprivileged than maybe even Steve himself,” as Rick Remender stated on Marvel.com (and as quoted here). Therefore Sam just might have a better handle on the more realistic evils that have beset American society. Hopefully, this will lead to some more down to Earth based (realistically based) stories than much of Remender's Cap stories have been thus far. Seeing Captain America metaphorically stand up for the under privileged, since he's a little closer to their plight, might lead to the kinds of stories that will drive far right wingers crazy (I'm sure that there are plenty who are already fuming that an African-American is now Captain America. I can't wait to see their responses to this news).
It is a shame to see an African-American character be only raised to such a high profile by taking over for a long established white character though. Hence the systemic issues built into the whole minority as superhero dilemma. Yes, there are plenty of African-American, or even just straight up African, superheroes at Marvel Comics: Blade, Black Panther, the Falcon himself, Bishop, Dr. VooDoo, Cloak, Deathlok, Luke Cage, and Storm to name a few, but none of them are nearly as high profile as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America (Steve Rodgers), Reed Richards, and the rest. One can argue that they haven't really ever had the best writers or storytellers devoted to their solo adventures, or that their titles just didn't sell that well. Why is this? Why hasn't there really ever been a solo minority superhero to reach the heights of one of the major ones? Perhaps because the others have been around longer? I don't know, but it is a fact. It is true that Sam Wilson/The Falcon DID co-headline Captain America for a while, but never succeeded on his own as a solo hero.
I for one would really love to see an original African-American character flourish on his own and become a legendary, well know superhero without taking over for another superhero. Plenty African-American superheroes have come close, but perhaps I'm completely missing the point here. The fact that an African American superhero can take over a role as big as Captain America, and be widely accepted, IS a huge step forward for America as a society (at least pop culturally). Maybe I'm not as color blind as Joe Quesada professed himself to be on The Colbert Report. I want to be though, and I want to see "Sam as Cap" or "FalconCap" be one of the most successful Captain America runs ever. America is not a color blind society, not by a long shot, but we have made progress, and will continue so, only as long as each and every one of us recognizes that we all need to be a little more color blind.
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