Marvel says the next Captain America will be an African American
Marvel characters are unveiled at Disney Infinity 2.0 launch at Pacific Theatres Cinerama Dome on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Katy Winn/Invision/AP)
In this Tuesday, July 1, 2014 photo, a lone USA supporter dressed as 'Captain America' sits in the stands after Belgium defeated the USA 2-1 in extra time to advance to the quarterfinals during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
MARVEL'S AVENGERS ASSEMBLE - 'Guardians and Space Knights' - When Galactus attacks Earth, Iron Man is able to lead him to another planet but discovers that it is populated and under the protection of the Guardians of the Galaxy. This episode of 'Marvel's Avengers Assemble' premieres Sunday, April 6 (8:00 AM - 8:30 AM, ET/PT) on Marvel Universe on Disney XD. (Disney XD via Getty Images)
STAR-LORD, ROCKET RACOON, CAPTAIN AMERICA
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: As a trader looks on, Captain America poses for photographers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after ringing the Opening Bell on April 1, 2014 in New York City. Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, the stars of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, were joined by Marvel Entertainment executives for the promotion of the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq were both higher in early trading Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Captain America art by Gil Kane at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 31: A Marvel Heroes frisbee sits on display at Midtown Comics in New York, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009. Walt Disney Co. said it agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for about $4 billion in a stock and cash transaction, gaining comic-book characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
THE AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES! - 'The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!,' an all-new animated series featuring the best of the best in the Marvel Universe, premieres Wednesday, OCTOBER 20 (8:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD. Produced by Marvel Animation, the series stars the world's greatest heroes -- Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Ant-Man/Giant Man and Wasp -- who form the Avengers, a team assembled when the powers of a single hero are not enough to save the world. Photo by Disney XD via Getty Images IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE HULK, THOR
This image released by Marvel shows Chris Evans, left, and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." (AP Photo/Marvel-Disney)
This image released by Marvel shows Anthony Mackie in a scene from the film, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." The movie releases in theaters on Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Marvel-Disney)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
By STEVE GORMAN
(Reuters) - An African American character will soon strap on the star-emblazoned shield and step into the red, white and blue uniform of Captain America in the pages of Marvel Comics.
The character of Captain America first appeared in 1941, as a super soldier fighting the Nazis. He was revived by Marvel in the 1960s and became an icon among Marvel's lineup of heroes.
The change in characters was announced on the publisher's official website on Wednesday. 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."
Rogers will hand the Captain America persona to his much younger friend and cohort, the character Sam Wilson, already a comic book star in his own right as the true identity behind the winged superhero known as Falcon.
A three-page explanation of the transformation was posted under the headline: "It's time for an all-new Captain America." It was authored by Marvel writer-artist Rick Remender and editor Tom Brevoort, part of the creative team involved in the publisher's re-launch of several of its popular heroes.
The Captain America update also was unveiled by Marvel Comics' chief creative officer, Joe Quesada, during a Wednesday night TV appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."
It came one day after Marvel's announcement that another founding member of its Avengers superhero team, the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor, would be reintroduced as a woman.
For now, the changes in both characters - Thor and Captain America - will be limited to the pages of Marvel comic books. Chris Hemsworth will continue to play a male Thor, and Chris Evans a white Captain America, in Marvel's feature films.
When Sam Wilson suits up as Captain America this fall, the character will undergo more than a mere racial transformation.
Wilson will don a modified version of the familiar Captain America costume and keep Cap's trademark circular shield, according to Remender and Brevoort. But he will retain a key vestige of his old Falcon persona - retractable wings that give him the power of flight.
As for the old Cap, Steve Rogers will stick around to serve as a strategic advisor to his successor, Marvel said.