Marvel is making 2014 its year of big shakeups and revelations, and they're making sure Captain America is part of the action. First, the House That Stan Lee Built made its thunder god Thor into a woman, and now Marvel has revealed that The Falcon will be stepping into Steve Rogers' shoes as the first black Captain America.
Marvel made the announcement Tuesday on in a special appearance on The Colbert Report and confirmed it later with a press release. Colbert is a huge overall nerd, and the satirical news host has a replica of Captain America's iconic shield hanging on the wall of his set.
[Related: Check out the newest developments with the movie version of Captain America and the rest of the Avengers in Age of Ultron!]
Just what happened to Steve Rogers, who has carried the red, white, and blue shield with only a few interruptions since the invention of Captain America? Old Steve fell victim to the Iron Nail, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned villain. As Captain America tried to stop a devastating attack on a Russian city, the Iron Nail drew all of the super-soldier serum out of him, leaving Steve Rogers a withered old man.
Fortunately, Steve's longtime friend Sam Wilson, also known as the Falcon, was there to save the day, defeating the Iron Nail and pulling Steve out of harm's way. The damage was done, though, and there is apparently no trace of the super-soldier serum left in Rogers' body. With the old Captain America suddenly having turned... well, old... Wilson will assume the mantle.
Other supporting characters have stepped into the role of Captain America over the years, but those were all temporary changes. Captain America writer Rick Remender seems to be talking like Wilson's tenure in the red, white, and blue may be for the long haul.
"I think that Steve himself realizes that there's always going to be a Captain America. It's an honor and a privilege to serve in that role, but no one man is Captain America," Remender said in an interview with Marvel last week.
As Sam Wilson steps into the role, Marvel assures us that this will be an all new Captain America for the 21st Century. In fact, the new title is called All New Captain America.
"While Sam shares many of Steve's beliefs in a general sense," Marvel editor Tom Brevoort explained, "he's also a very different person with a very different background," adds editor Tom Brevoort, "He didn't grow up in the 1930s, he's a modern day man in touch with the problems of the 21st Century. For most of his professional life, Sam has worked as a social worker, so he's seen the worst of urban society up close, and how crime, poverty, lack of social structure and opportunity can affect the community. So he's got perhaps a greater focus on the plight of the common man, and perhaps a greater empathy for the underprivileged than maybe even Steve himself. He's also not a military man, so he's more apt to be instinctively skeptical of any situation that calls for just following orders."
This most recent shakeup comes on the heels of Marvel declaring Tuesday that a woman would be taking up the mantle of Thor. Meanwhile, the newest Ms. Marvel is a 16-year-old Pakistani-American student named Kamala Khan, and the Ultimate Universe version of Spider-Man is a half-black, half-Puerto Rican teenager named Miles Morales.
The moves are aimed at making the face that Marvel puts forward more closely resemble that of the company's readership and fandom. The changes are sure to anger some who are attached to the current incarnations of Marvel's heavy hitters, and it is unclear just how committed Marvel is to making its most recent changes stick.
Considering that Captain America has been shot backward through time, apparently dead, and gone through any number of other trials, only to come back to the shield, we're skeptical as to how long this will last. If we start hearing tell that Anthony Mackie will be taking up the role of Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic universe, though, you might be able to take that as an indication that Marvel is in it for the long haul.