In 2007, as part of the aftermath of their very successful comic event Civil War, Marvel did the unthinkable and killed off Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America. While his death didn’t really worry me much since pretty much everyone dies in comics…and eventually comes back, what interested me was how Marvel would handle Steve Rogers’ absence in their universe…in other words, who would take his place as the new Captain America.
That honor would fall upon his original World War II partner/sidekick, a newly resurrected and grown up Bucky Barnes. Now this seemed like a no brainer and quite frankly, I loved this decision by Marvel because well…it made sense on every level. As far as training and skill level, he did train with the best in Steve Rogers. He has his history tied in with Captain America. And even while he had his current identity as the Winter Soldier, that persona was identified as a ruthless assassin. So him shedding that identity and inheriting a more noble one was a great story of redemption for Bucky. And of course despite the fact that he didn’t have the same super soldier serum running through his veins, his physical handling of Cap’s shield could be attributed to his mechanical arm.
Anyway, to no one’s surprise, Steve Rogers eventually did return and took back the mantle of Captain America and everything was good….until Marvel once again felt the need to shake things up. This time around though, they spared Steve Rogers’ life and instead decided to drain him of the super soldier serum making him advance rapidly in age. He grows old…really old, so old that he no longer is able to physically BE Captain America….so enter the need for another new Captain.
With Bucky Barnes being a case of “been there and done that”, Marvel looked towards another close ally of Steve Rogers…Sam Wilson, better known as the Falcon. Unfortunately, if you ask my opinion, unlike “Bucky Cap”, “Falcon Cap” simply didn’t work as well. Ok so if you’re talking about shared history and his close friendship with Steve Rogers, then yes you could say that Sam Wilson deserves the role. But for me, there are other aspects of this new Cap that just bug me to high heavens.
Ok first of all, I don’t like the idea of Marvel is taking well established hero....the Falcon and basically “grounding him” as Cap. There is no need to take an already recognizable and fairly unique character and make him into someone else. This is the same reason why I was against another very close friend of Steve Rogers, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) becoming Cap. What’s the point? Why waste the character?
Secondly, now I know this is more nitpicking and going overly nerdy but it makes NO SENSE that Sam Wilson should be so skilled with Captain America’s shield. First of all, if you Google it, you will find that Cap’s shield is about 2.5 feet in diameter and about 12 lbs of solid vibranium steel. Have YOU tried to lift something like that with one arm and throw it a good distance? Throw one so far and so strong that it would ricochet all over the place? Steve Rogers could do it because he had his super soldier serum running through his veins. Bucky could do it because he had a mechanical arm. Sam Wilson, despite being an exceptional athlete is still human, it shouldn’t make sense that he can handle the shield as good as the other 2. But it gets even more infuriating. In order to make him unique, and not totally shed the Falcon character, Sam Wilson as Cap retains his wings…yup that’s right he is a true “Falcon-Cap”. Which is actually a cool idea, except when you introduce the shield into the equation….how the hell can he handle a friggin shield and still be an effective flyer? I’m no expert, but I would think that attaching shield to one arm/wing would significantly affect your balance in the air and seriously compromise your flying capabilities. He can’t be SO skilled that he can be a perfect flyer AND a perfect shield wielder….it’s just too much.
Finally, I can’t help but think that making Sam Wilson Cap is more of an attempt by Marvel to force diversity into their main heroes. Hey, I’m all for diversity….but not at the expense of replacing well established characters. If they want more African American heroes…then MAKE them, or find someone underused (I’m sure there are a good number of potential ones)…and put a little effort into writing good stories about them and developing them…people will respond.
A few years back, Luke Cage was just a forgotten Marvel hero from the 70’s…until writer Brian Michael Bendis plucked him out of obscurity and placed him front and center in his new Avengers lineup. Now Luke Cage is practically a household name with his own television series in the works. Miles Morales, the ultimate Spiderman is another character that was “created” and was a success because of good writing and development. And for a younger generation of readers, he has become their Spiderman…without having to replace Peter Parker…. Aneeewaay…..that is just my opinion…Sam Wilson as Cap because he is one of Steve Rogers’ oldest friends? OK…but Sam Wilson as Captain America because he’s African American?....no.
Truth be told I would have been happier if Luke Cage was chosen to take over as Captain America, you still fulfil the whole diversity objective as well as have a plausible explanation of how he could handle the shield. True he would lack the skill to truly use it effectively like Steve Rogers, but at least his superhuman strength would be able to throw it really really hard.
Anyway, at the end, all my “nerd rage” over this issue is all for nothing as surprise surprise, after a couple of years, it was finally announced that Marvel would bring Steve Rogers back as Captain America, just in time for his 3rd movie. BUT, they also announced that Sam Wilson would still remain as Captain America as well…so two Caps, which is something I can live with, except for one thing. In an obvious bid to further push the point that Sam Wilson’s is still a legitimate Captain America, despite Steve Rogers’ return, they also announced that the original shield will stay with Sam Wilson with Steve Rogers getting a NEW one that is supposed to be super ultra cool! Ughhh
According to the design, Steve Roger’s new shield would be shaped more like a traditional shield …a call back to his old World War 2 shield. It will also have the ability to split in half so he can have a half on each arm, and the tips of the shield would have some sort of “energy blade” (oooooooh). Now I don’t know about you but it seems that a shield that is more aerodynamically shaped and that can be split into 2 equal parts to be placed on both arms to keep the hero somewhat symmetrically balanced would somehow work better on one who….flies? If you ask me, having a bladed weapon on each arm would seem like a better fit for a flying fighter.
Oh well…at least Steve Rogers is back, I’ll give it another year before Sam Wilson is back to being just plain old Falcon and the real shield will be back with it’s rightful owner.