When Marvel Comics recently announced that they would be replacing Captain America with a black man, Marvel hoped this would get them credit for being trailblazers and bringing diversity to comics. What actually happened is that Marvel took the natural progression of a storyline and evolution of their characters and made it needlessly politically correct, actually making themselves look like they are decades behind the times.
It was more than thirty years ago, after all, that a black character (John Stewart) filled in for and temporarily replaced Hal Jordan as a Green Lantern. Eventually Stewart would become a Green Lantern full-time and was the primary Green Lantern in the DC Animated Universe more than a decade ago. Marvel is not exactly breaking new ground here.
What is really happening here is a natural progression of the Captain America mantle. Marvel had already temporarily replaced Steve Rogers in the 1980’s with a character formerly known as the Super Patriot. Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s sidekick in World War II, replaced Steve Rogers while he was temporarily dead following the events of Marvel’s Civil War storyline. Dick Grayson (the former Robin who later became Nightwing) replaced Bruce Wayne as Batman while Wayne was temporarily dead following the events of Final Crisis.
The Falcon (Sam Wilson) has been Steve Rogers’ crime fighting partner and close friend for decades. While Rogers is sidelined, it makes sense that Wilson would take the mantle of Captain America – not because he is black but because he is Rogers’ close friend and is one of the few characters in the Marvel Universe who can fill the role of Captain America while Rogers is temporarily on the shelf.
By making this a politically correct gimmick instead of the natural progression of the story, Marvel Comics is actually diminishing the importance of Sam Wilson taking the mantle of Captain America. It would have been better to completely ignore Wilson’s race and place him into the role his character would fit into naturally. Fans of Captain America are not going to take this seriously because it is being advanced as political correctness instead of a genuine (and worthwhile) elevation of the Sam Wilson character. That is a shame.