By Shamira Ibrahim, The Root
This past weekend, I dusted off my sweatpants and trekked to the movies to see the latest Marvel cinematic adventure, Captain America: Civil War. It was a good comic book movie—great, even. I normally have a hard time sitting in a dark room for over two hours without taking at least one solid nap, but I am proud to say that this ragtag group of superheroes held my rapt attention while I was enjoying a $5 Popeyes box.*
I’m not here to spoil plot points—I fully understand that not everyone has seen it yet (although I’d like to note that I am firmly #TeamBuckyBeTRIPPINGDawg). That said, I don’t think I’m ruining anything by pointing out that there are not one, not two, but three black men who have prominent roles on the silver screen. To have three fully fleshed-out black characters in a movie who serve more of a role than “black guy who only exists when white people need things without any discussed internal motivations” is kind of a big deal, and we should all give it its just due.
One thing they didn’t highlight, however, is their personal lives. At minimum, we know that one of the three superheroes dates black women; what would it be like if they all did? What kind of men are they outside of their superhero shenanigans?
Sam Wilson, aka Falcon
Former athlete who can’t let go of his glory days, so he’s the most insufferable person in every work intramural league. Could have been in “the league” if his knee didn’t blow out his junior year of high school. Refers to current athletes he may have run into once during Pop Warner or AAU with the familiarity of someone who’s actual friends with them. Signs up for Spartan Races year-round. Wants to find the love of his life in a CrossFit Box. Drops and does 10 pushups before every photo.
James Rhodes, aka War Machine
Dude who talks a big game but ultimately is middle management. Takes a lot of photos at big, fancy galas with people who are way more important than he is. Falls in line with whatever’s on the TPS report but pretends that he’s thought it over and it’s the most reasonable decision to make. Says stuff like, “You don’t understand until you been through it,” and rattles off memorized statements about the significance of history and legacy and service—when all you asked was why were there still grown men taking over the room at happy hour. Has a “nonstandard” MLK quote as a signature to all of his emails. Thinks J. Cole is underrated. Wants someone to take to nerd prom.
T’Challa, aka Black Panther
First-generation dude with wealthy parents, and he went to elite international private schools with far better resources than their American counterparts. Talks a lot of s–t with the credentials to back it up. Consistently presumes himself to be the smartest person in the room. Expresses befuddlement as to why “you Americans” do things a certain way approximately once a week. Insists that his country makes the best jollof. Relaxes in the back of an Afrobeats party with Johnnie Walker. His way or the highway at all times. Eternal question marks around his actual relationship status—rumor is, he has a girl in the Victoria Island section of Lagos (pronounced LAY-gos, not LAH-gos, like in the movie)—but you’ll never ask and he’ll never tell. Requires a woman with multiple degrees who will still make pounded yam and bear his children. Manchester City fan.
Which door would you pick: No. 1, 2 or 3? Important note: While all of these men have their own very unique personalities and quirks, they all have one thing in common (besides consistently coming together to save the Earth from pending extinction, that is): a highly questionable relationship with their barbers.
Don’t judge—the movie ticket was 22 AMERICAN DOLLARS. I was entitled to a spicy two-piece and a biscuit.
Listen, I don’t read comics; nor do I plan to. So maybe they all got girlfriends named Toya; I wouldn’t know either way. Work with me here.