Marvel is making big changes this year. In a special segment of the Colbert Report, the comics giant announced that Steve Rogers will pass his star-spangled shield on to Sam Wilson in the fall, making Wilson (otherwise known as the Falcon) one of the first black man to take on the official role of Captain America.  Marvel did not “directly” address the obvious, the fact that Captain America is now black, but fans of the original captain have not missed the less than subtle change.  Society has changed, so superheroes have to as well, said Axel Alonso, editor in chief at Marvel Comics.  It’s not the first time Marvel’s had a black Captain America. Marvel introduced the idea in 2003 in it’s limited series “Truth: Red, White and Black,” where World War II scientists try to recreate the super-soldier compound they gave to Steve Rogers, and try testing it on black soldiers. The experiment mimicked the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis experiment that took place between 1932 and 1972. One soldier, Isaiah Bradley, survives the experiment and becomes a super-soldier. 
Wilson first debuted in 1969’s Captain America #117 and was the first African-American super hero and has been a major player in Marvel comics ever since.  He first appeared in the pages of Captain America, and ever since, he’s been especially important in stories about the Star-Spangled Avenger — one need look no further than Falcon’s cinematic debut (as portrayed by Anthony Mackie) in this year’s box-office mega-hit Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The ins and outs of Steve Rogers’s abdication are a bit too complicated to bore you with here. But basically, Wilson will take up the mantle as a result of more recent events in Captain America continuity. In Captain America #21, Rogers fights his greatest foe yet in the Iron Nail, only to have the villain drain him of the super-soldier serum keeping him young and super strong. As a result, Cap is not only de-powered, but ages into an old man.  It is built around the retirement of Captain America’s original alter ego, Steve Rogers, who finds he has lost the extraordinary strength and agility he had once gained from injections of performance-enhancing “super soldier serum.”  Marvel has said Rogers isn’t dying, but he’ll be taking a backseat and offering remote support to Wilson. 
Wilson will take on the role of Captain America in October’s Captain America #25, written by Rick Remender with art by Carlos Pacheco. The new series will mark Wilson as the seventh character to take up Captain America’s famous shield.  Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada stressed that the change is “strictly in the comics.” (White actor Chris Evans has portrayed the star-spangled superhero in three films, and will reprise the role again next year in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”; African-American actor Anthony Mackie played Sam Wilson/The Falcon alongside Evans in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”) Of course, with Falcon filling Cap’s big red boots, someone needs to step up and carry on his duties. “That opening is available,” Quesada told a hopeful Colbert before sharing a crowd-pleasing mockup of the new (and in no way official) Falcon. The new Captain America is from the 21st century. Marvel says Sam Wilson worked as a social worker, giving him an up-close view of “the worst of urban society,” and “how crime, poverty, lack of social structure and opportunity can affect the community.”  Wilson will have a “greater focus on the plight of the common man.”  While he was on the Colbert Show, Quesada presented an original piece of artwork showing Colbert in the Captain Falcon Uniform. Marvel is also hinting that there will be more changes to come. “We’re not anywhere near finished,” editor Tom Brevoort said in the press release. “Change is one of the watchwords of the Marvel Universe, so there are even more startling surprises to come!” 
The Captain America announcement comes the same week as other big changes for major Marvel characters. Tuesday on “The View,” it was revealed that Cap’s fellow Avenger Thor is now a Goddess of Thunder. And on Thursday, Marvel announced that their colleague Iron Man is getting sleek new silver armor (instead of the gold and red that Robert Downey Jr. has sported in a successful film series) and is moving to San Francisco. Marvel has been striving for more diversity in its most famous characters. Tom Brevoort, Marvel executive editor, said: “It’s about time.” He added: “In 2014, this should be a thing that we shrug off, it shouldn’t be seen as revolutionary, but it still feels exciting.”  The reveal of an African-American Captain America following on the heels of a female Thor is hardly a coincidence. Speaking to Time.com earlier this week, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said that the publisher “perceived there to be a real thirst for characters that reflect what we see in the mirror [and] our goal is to make our characters reflect the outside world.” 
As with all changes in the world of comic books, the reaction among fans has been mixed. . Not everyone is happy with the changes: Fans took to the comments section of the press release to share their views, and while there were some detractors, many people embraced the change, saying they looked forward to following the storyline develop.  A contingent of vocal Internet fans are currently protesting a reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four property in the movies, turning one of the quartet — Johnny Storm — from blond and blue-eyed to black. 
Even if for many geeks this racial switch may appear as a “big deal,” and we don’t say this to downplay this “dramatic event,” but it’s just that, on a scale of Internet apocalypses caused by comic book announcements, it’s safe to say that the female Thor lunacy won the week.  On the other end of the spectrum, the liberal crowd were cheering Marvel’s new “inclusiveness” policy and they were also quick to condemn those who couldn’t stomach the radical politically correct change in their favorite comic character.
Noah Berlasky, author of the upcoming “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948,” said portions of the largely white, male comic book audience don’t want favored characters to change.  “Changing people’s race or changing people’s gender can feel more threatening or a bigger deal than changing Thor into a frog,” said Berlasky, referencing a popular storyline in which the Norse god transforms into an amphibian. “Characters are always changing, but there are cultural lenses which make it seem like a bigger deal if Johnny Storm is black.” 
Wired magazine came out with an original criticism of these recent “politically correct” changes in Marvel’s comic characters: “Let’s ignore the uncomfortable weirdness around an African-American Cap working for a white master; […] there’s also the fact that neither the new Thor nor the new Captain America actually get to establish their own identities in any real sense.”  In this perspective, not only are they, by definition, replacements—forced to live up to legacies established by white male characters both in the fictional worlds they inhabit and the minds of the fans reading the comics—but “they both got the job because of the failings of their white predecessors” rather than on their own merits. We know from the official press release about the new Captain America: “Steve’s spirit is as willing as ever, but his body is no longer up to the task of being Captain America.” We also have the same looser story line coming from the press release about the new Thor: “No longer is the classic Thunder God able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, and a brand new female hero will emerge worthy of the name THOR.”  Wired may have just hit the nail on the head. Beyond the infuriating fact that those changes have been made in the larger context of the multiculturalist agenda that is pushed everywhere these days, there is also something depressing in the script, something profoundly pathetic. Probably that the fans can feel this creepy element as well.