So yesterday’s pretty obvious news tease was indeed correct, and we have an All New Captain America: Sam Wilson AKA The Falcon. In reading this news story across countless outlets this morning, comment sections are flooded with posts like “big deal, they’re only going to change him back anyway” or “he’ll be back, just like no one stays dead.”
To that I say, who cares?
Do these people look at a giant, exciting roller coaster or water slides and say “you’re only going to end up back at where you started.” Of course you are, but it’s the journey that’s half the fun! I’m not going to try and say that super hero comics don’t treat death and status quo shake ups lightly; people die, change identities, come back and reclaim them to repeat the dance over again. Changing things doesn’t destroy the years of stories you enjoyed with a character before the shake up, and you know they’ll be back so why not enjoy the ride in the meantime?
In the end of 2012, my personal favorite comic writer Dan Slott pulled a controversial move by “killing” Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, and putting in his place his long time nemesis Doctor Octopus into the role of Spider-Man. I’ll freely admit, I was skeptical over the change after reading Amazing Spider-Man #700 (the issue the change happened) but my opinion did a complete 180 upon reading Superior Spider-Man #1 mere weeks later. My view changed from “I don’t know how I feel about this” to “Peter Parker? Who needs him! long Live Otto Octavius!”
I wasn’t naive to think that Peter Parker wouldn’t be coming back, logic dictated that he would probably take up the title again when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out in May of this year, and surprise, it did. In the meantime though, I could enjoy the ride, however long it lasted, with an all new Spider-Man in the saddle. Doc Ock being Spider-Man didn’t change the fact that there was fifty years of Spider-Man comics, close to a handful of movies and dozens of video games with that character to enjoy.
So yes, Falcon will not be Captain America for forever, neither will whoever the fem Thor will be, but so what? Let’s for once give both characters the benefit of a doubt before their respective first issues come out. Like the Spider-Man example, it’s not like there’s not decades of Thor and Captain America stories to look back on, as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron next year. These changes, if handled correctly, could be the new gold standard for comics, or if not they could be the worst decision ever, we really don’t know until we all strap in for the ride. If it is a monumental failure on one or both accounts, Marvel’s pool of writers can think of a way to set things back to normal.
It’s unfortunate sometimes the age we live in that change is so actively fought against. In a lot of ways, it seems like there’s no pleasing people. Keep it the same? It’s boring, I want them to change it up. Change things up? AAAAHHH, it’s different, make it like it was before. Last years summer comic book blockbuster Man of Steel was a victim of this as well. The last time Superman graced the big screen before Man of Steel was in 2006’s Superman Returns, a movie that tried to capture the spirit of the late 70’s/early 80’s films by Richard Donner but felt antiquated upon following up 2005’s gritty Batman reboot, Batman Begins. “I don’t like Superman, he’s too lame, he’s too much of a boy scout,” okay, well let’s make a dark in tone Superman movie with plenty of action and a murder.
“That’s not Superman, why didn’t they make it like before?!!” BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU ASKED FOR, THAT’S WHY!!!!
My main issue with the new Marvel change up is that maybe they should push the characters they already have in those roles. Why can’t there exist a solo Falcon series, or a new take on the Black Panther character? I WANT to like these characters, but they’ve always seemed to be downplayed compared to the heavy hitters in the Marvel U like Captain America and Thor. Just Look at the new Justice League United series from DC, which just introduced a brand new first nations heroine. This is a prime example of pushing a new character that breaks the traditional white male super hero archetype.
Conversely, there’s power in the big names like Captain America and Thor. Marvel’s willingness to change there established characters, especially with how these will not be reflected in the movies for many, many years down the road, is bold. Let’s give other races and genders a chance to inhabit the names that are on the tongues of a lot of people thanks to the pop culture phenomena that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of my favorite moments in the relaunch of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man was Miles Morales out of costume saving people from a burning building and then fleeing a scene. A policeman on scene’s reaction? “I knew Spider-Man was black!” Awesome.
People of the internet, chill out, alright? Yes, your Captain America and Thor are going away for a bit of a vacation, but don’t you worry, they’ll be back someday. That doesn’t mean you can’t nostalgically look back on the all the memories you shared in the past, and hey, maybe if you buy a ticket for that ride you’re so apprehensive about, you might find yourself enjoying it.