As most of the world has undoubtedly heard, Marvel Comics will be replacing Steve Rogers, the long-standing Captain America, with Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, Rogers’ partner and analogue in many rights. Changes like this and the introduction of a female Thor may not come until November and may even prove to only be temporary, they’re still welcome in a medium over saturated with mostly white male faces. Not every attempt at diversity begins and ends with a PoC inheriting the title from someone else, and in honor of Marvel attempting to address their mainstream diversity problem, here’s a list of other black analogues to famous heroes and even villains.
War Machine/Iron Man
A Marine pilot who befriends Tony Stark, James Rhodes takes up the role of Iron Man while Stark is struggling with alcoholism and eventually dons his own armor as War Machine. Made popular by Don Cheadle‘s portrayal of him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rhodes’ new role as the Iron Patriot is yet another example of a Black hero embodying the heroic ideals of an American defender.
I know that they’re both from different publishing companies, but work with me here. Both T’Challa (Panther) and Bruce Wayne (Batman) were born into royalty and are incredibly resourceful. They lack powers of their own, but their bodies are trained to the peak of human perfection and they both fight crime in black costumes with nifty gadgets. What makes T’Challa stand out against the Caped Crusader is his status as the king of the hyper advanced civilization of Wakanda and his lack of all-consuming psychosis involving murdered parents. Marvel has been teasing fans with a Black Panther film for years and may yet include him in the still diversity strapped MCU.
Brother Voodoo/Dr. Strange
A master of voodoo magic, Haitian practitioner Jerico Drumm is a formidable magical force in the Marvel Universe. His skills are so potent that he was even chosen to become the new Sorcerer Supreme, the position previously held by Dr. Strange, by the mythical Eye of Agamotto.
Considered to be the most powerful hero of the Marvel Universe in the 50s-60s, Adam Brashear can fly, is super-strong, can manipulate and absorb anti-matter, and has an unparalleled intellect. His position as an American hero was compromised in the 50s when his face-concealing mask came off in a battle, exposing his race to an America still going through some racial growing pains. He responded by going incognito and becoming a professor of physics at the University of Maryland. Impressive, right? He currently serves as a member of Luke Cage‘s Mighty Avengers.
Static Shock, created by famed Africa-American comic writer Dwayne McDuffie, is an electromagnetically powered mainstay in the DC Universe. Most famous for his animated series on Kids WB back in the early 2000s, Static was acquired from Milestone Comics, a DC Comics imprint, and incorporated into the current line-up of the Teen Titans. The similarity to Electro, the Spider-Man villain, is simply in terms of powers, but Static’s more practical and just plain cooler power set (he’s capable of generating/manipulating both electricity and magnetism) and African-American teenager angle signify him as a uniquely compelling figure in the world of comic books.
Captain America (Isaiah Bradley)/Captain America (Steve Rogers)
Sam Wilson isn’t the first African-American to take up the mantle of Captain America. Isaiah Bradley was an American Military man who was involved in an illegal military experiment on 300 African-American soldiers to re-create the Super Soldier Serum. As the only survivor, he donned a makeshift Cap costume and took the fight to the Axis in World War II before being court-martialed and imprisoned by the US government in thanks. The experiments on Bradley continued, but his legacy would live on through his Muslim minister son Josiah X and grandson Elijah Bradley, founding member of the Young Avengers.
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