Marvel Have Ta-Nehisi Coates On Board To Write Their African Hero, Black Panther

Their films may be full of white bros, but the comics are really starting to do diversity right.

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Over the past couple of years especially, Marvel have been making a real push towards diversity. That may come as news to those who just follow their cinematic universe — one which is so stacked full of guys they’ve started simply rounding them all up in one place and throwing in a doe-eyed Scarlett Johansson for novelty — but it’s definitely true of the comics themselves.

In the past year, Captain America became an African American man and we were given female versions of Thor and Wolverine. These major changes have been complemented with a dramatic increase in female protagonists on covers, and an introduction of more LGBT characters as well as those from less-commonly represented ethnicities and religions.

It’s by no means perfect. Many critics, for instance, have pointed out the fact these changes haven’t carried across to the industry itself. As Wired wrote this year, with a vast majority of their writers and artists still caucasian there are a number of contributions from people of colour potentially going unvalued. Most problematically, this resulted in a controversy this year in which white creators were giving exclusive voice to a series about racism in the US.

Speaking about all this at Comic-Con, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort suggested much work was still being done. “Really, and we mean this genuinely, it’s only the beginning,” he said. “We talk about the need for greater diversity in our cast and in our writers all the time. We don’t want to just throw stuff out there, so it takes a certain amount of time to make things happen. But this is only the beginning.”

Turns out he was serious.

Marvel have today announced that bestselling author and foremost commentator on race and social justice Ta-Nehisi Coates will be penning their forthcoming Black Panther series. Even better: Coates shared the news on Twitter in truly spectacular fashion.

If you haven’t heard of Black Panther, he was Marvel’s first African American superhero. From the kingdom of Wakanda, he has superhuman senses and physical attributes with a brilliant mind and knack for animal mimicry. He’s scheduled to star in the upcoming Captain America film and has his own scheduled for 2018 as well.

If you haven’t heard of Ta-Nehisi Coates, he is also a pretty big deal. A national correspondent for The Atlantic, Coates regularly writes about race, politics and culture. He has penned two books about similar topics; the most recent of which has spent the whole summer at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. Moved to action by the death of his friend who was killed by police, Coates wrote Between the World and Me as a broad meditation on politics, violence and racism in the lives of people of colour.

This, combined with his intense love of comic books, makes him an incredible pick to author the series and people are pretty damn excited.

There’s no word yet on when will this new series will be released, but it’s clearly something to get look forward to. Speaking about his appointment with The New York TimesCoates expressed his excitement recalling the influence such stories and characters had on his childhood — a topic he’s previously written at length about.

“It meant something to see people who looked like me in comic books,” he said. “It was this beautiful place that I felt pop culture should look like … I want to make a great comic. I really, really do.”

It’s probably time for the movies to catch up.

So. Many. White. Bros.