Marvel announced that Sam Wilson would replace the elderly Steve Rogers as Captain America way back in July.
This announcement has, unsurprisingly, been met with mixed reception since it first hit the internets. Personally, I don’t know how I feel about Marvel’s pro-diversity moves this year. The hopeful Marvel-lover in me is ecstatic at the prospect of the Marvel Universe looking just a little bit more like the universe I live in. This side of me leaps with joy when sales figures suggest that readers want diversity (pro-tip, buy the types of comics you want to see more of—unfortunately, money can sometimes talk louder than blogposts). The cynic in me, however, echoes Christopher Priest’s recent comments on the issue:
It feels like a stunt [ . . .]. It would have felt like a stunt had I done it. [. . .] Putting the black sidekick in the suit, when everyone knows sooner or later you’re going to switch things back to normal, comes off patently offensive.
If there’s one thing I respect it’s the ability to constructively criticize. Anybody can complain about the problems of the world, it takes a much better person to suggest a change. Later on in the interview Priest demonstrates this by suggesting a very reasonable change (Marvel, how about modelling diversity within the hiring processes of your company while writing it into your universe [paraphrased]) and by sharing that he hopes the cynic in him is wrong about this one. He also took the time to recognize and state the challenge Marvel has ahead of them to make these steps toward diversity strides instead of cheap stunts:
Marvel’s challenge is to deliver something so affirming and positive that the work overcomes that cynicism. I assure you, Black America will be watching: Does this have real depth, or is it just surfacey costume-switching?
So, unfortunately, I’m still checking my joy at the door while I wait and see what’s to come. How about you?