Marvel is making big changes this year. In a special announcement made on the Colbert Report this evening, the comics giant will this fall have Steve Rogers pass his star-spangled shield on to Sam Wilson, making Wilson (otherwise known as the Falcon) the first black Captain America. This shift comes only a day after Marvel revealed plans to give the role of yet another founding Avenger, Thor, to a woman this fall, and follows with Marvel's overall push for more diversity in its biggest titles.
That Colbert got to announce the change is altogether fitting; Cap's shield has been on display on the show since early 2007, ever since Marvel "bequeathed" the shield to the host after Steve Rogers' assumed death in the aftermath of the Civil War event series. Wilson will take up the mantle as a result of more recent events in Captain America continuity, however. In Captain America #21, Rogers fights his greatest foe yet in the Iron Nail, only to have the villain drain him of the super soldier serum keeping him young and super-strong. As a result, Cap is not only depowered, but ages into an old man.
"HE’S A MODERN DAY MAN IN TOUCH WITH THE PROBLEMS OF THE 21ST CENTURY."
Falcon, one of Cap's oldest allies, has been rumored for weeks as the most likely candidate to carry on Steve's legacy. After all, Wilson was there to save the former super soldier's life before the end of issue 21. Created in 1969, he was Marvel's first African American superhero. (The honor of first black Marvel superhero goes to Black Panther.) He's far from the first character to replace Rogers as the iconic American hero — James "Bucky" Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier, is just one hero to take up the mantle for a time — but he's the first person of color to hold the moniker officially. In an interview with Marvel, series editor Tom Brevoort said, "While Sam shares many of Steve’s beliefs in a general sense, he’s also a very different person with a very different background. He didn’t grow up in the 1930s, he’s a modern day man in touch with the problems of the 21st Century."
However, Marvel has explored the idea of black super soldiers in the past. In the 2003 limited series Truth: Red, White, and Black, World War II scientists attempt to recreate the original super soldier serum and test their formula on enlisted black soldiers, mirroring the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Only Isaiah Bradley survives the tests and gains superhuman strength, speed, and endurance. Bradley would go on to become a legend in the African-American community and even be regarded as the Black Captain America, but his identity and historical significance aren't commonly known.
Of course, this move jibes very much with what Marvel has done in the last few years. Pakistani-American student Kamala Khan recently became the first Muslim Ms. Marvel, and Miles Morales has become a fan favorite in his tenure as Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man.
Marvel is excited to announce an all-new era for the God of Thunder in brand new series, THOR, written by Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder, Original Sin) complimented with art from Russell Dauterman (Cyclops).
This October, Marvel Comics evolves once again in one of the most shocking and exciting changes ever to shake one of Marvel’s "big three" – Captain American, Iron Man and Thor – Marvel Comics will be introducing an all-new THOR, GOD OF THUNDER. No longer is the classic male hero able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, a brand new female hero will emerge will who will be worthy of the name THOR. Who is she? Where did she come from and what is her connection to Asgard and the Marvel Universe?
"The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription," says Marvel editor Wil Moss. "The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"
Series writer Jason Aaron emphasizes, "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before."
THOR is the latest in the ever-growing and long list of female-centric titles that continues to invite new readers into the Marvel Universe. This female THOR is the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for Super Hero comic books in America: women and girls.