This change marks a couple of milestones. First, this makes for TWO massive changes Marvel has made in the span of a few days, first introducing Thor as a woman in future comics and now this. Additionally, The Falcon will mark the first African-American Captain America in the comic characters history, which does show a massive change in direction for the character and its potential future storyline.
Firstly, The Challenge
The Captain America change will have more complications than a Thor being recast as a woman, and it isn’t an issue of race. With the Thor change, you have the possibility of bringing another super-powered female character to wield the hammer or have an ordinary person who is worthy, who will then wield Thor’s powers. In essence, the hammer becomes the source of the power. For Captain America, there is no real passing of the torch. It’s more like donating ones clothes. Sam Wilson will take on the red, white and blue but isn’t getting the main ingredient that made the Cap, well, the Cap: his super human strength. Rick Remender states that “[The Falcon] doesn’t have the super soldier serum, but he has the added zing-zang-zoom of flight”. Sure, The Falcon is a master of flight, but does that give him the skill-set to become a soldier. Take out the wings – which isn’t super hard – and you have a pretty easy target. The challenge for the new storyline will be to create confidence in the new character which, as it stands, is a tall order. This is the second time Sam Wilson has taken on the patriotic suit, the last time being in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty. That, however, was a temporary thing. This is a complete rebrand of the character.
An Interesting Storyline for the Films
When The Falcon was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Solider, people did wonder how connected he will be to the Captain America universe. When word got out that Sharon Carter, AKA Agent 13, was part of the film as well, everyone started making deductions as to where the storyline will go. By having Winter Solider and Agent 13 alone in the film made future film possibilities endless, for those who know the comic storylines. With this new announcement, things are very different. Some speculate that The Falcon may indeed take over the mantle in the next film, which is very much a possibility. It’s the same case with the new Thor being announced. However, both changes will need time to develop, and we will not likely see any changes until after the next film installment.
Some concerns that are constantly being brought up include if Sam Wilson can actually hold the mantle. One of the storylines in current comics includes the Winter Soldier becoming a Captain America and frankly, that seems realistic with his crazy bionic arm and what not. Sam Wilson is the assist-type, who doesn’t really have the strength to wield the Adamantium shield with the speed and agility as the Cap. This may be made clear with the currently in-development story, but it will have to rectify this fact to make it realistic.
Marvel Has Done It Before
It isn’t the first time a prominent character was given a race change. A very recent, and profoudly important change, was that of Nick Fury. He too was a Caucasian character prior to Ultimate Nick Fury, which when released in 2001 featured an African-American Nick Fury. The character was even styled after Samuel L. Jackson, before he took on the role in the films. That too was a relatively recent change that could have made or broken Marvel Comics. However, there are two reasons why that change worked: 1) Nick Fury is not front and centre as Captain America is when thinking about Comic book distribution and 2) Samuel L. Jackson became a very big part of the characters creation, and did justice to the character on film. Jackson is essentially the only person who has played Nick Fury, unless you want to count David Hasselhoff’s attempt.