Initial Thoughts: The All New Captain America
As a comic fan of three decades, Marvel has finally impressed me with a monumental move on the diversity front! This week revealed major changes to two of Marvel's Heavy Hitters: Thor and Captain America. Marvel has revealed that Mjolnir will be passed onto a woman, and the vibranium shield of Captain America will pass on to long term friend and first African American Superhero, the Falcon.
Marvel, and most comic publishers have had a long-running problem with diversity in their comic franchises. The initial reason linked to the time when a predominant number of the heroes were created. Following the civil rights' and feminist's movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the country's evolving experience with regard to race and gender, it is encouraging to see a comics publisher attempting to embrace diversity wholeheartedly.
While Marvel dipped it toes into the water of diversity with Miles Morales in 2011, it was a measured and somewhat cheap move. Marvel could say they had embraced diversity by changing a major character--in this case Spiderman--into one of the primary heroes of people's childhood. However, at the same time, they were able to abate other fans because it was not taking place in the main 616 universe.
By implementing these changes in the main 616 with such iconic characters, Marvel is making a statement. To my mind, this statement is that that they want to change, and they want to appeal to every reader no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. Hopefully this will be reflected in the cinematic universe, where we could see a minority lead superhero movie!
On a very personal note, as an African American war vet, it is particularly resonant that Marvel has made this move with Captain America, my favorite hero, in a time when our country needs a symbol. While I was in Iraq, I would sit with my Kindle and read comics during my downtime as a reminder of higher idealism, but the fact remained that comics never properly represented minorities. Looking forward to when Marvel will follow up with some diversity in their movies!