Marvel Comics has taken strides to include African-American characters across its various comic book titles since the ’60s, including becoming the first mainstream comic company to feature a Black superhero. What isn’t known to many outside Marvel’s vastly detailed comic books world is that three of its top characters hail from the borough of Harlem in New York.
With Harlem Week celebrating its 40th anniversary celebration wrapping up this weekend, it’s fitting that the “Black Mecca” of America would be the birthplace of X-Men standout Storm, Avengers member Falcon, and the mercenary with a heart, Luke Cage.
Storm, also known as Ororo Munroe, is an African warrior princess with the mutant ability to control the weather. Storm’s father, David Munroe, was a photographer, and her mother, N’Dare, was a Kenyan tribal princess. Storm lived in America when she was a baby but was reared in Africa until she was a teenager.
Played by Halle Berry in the live action X-Men films, Storm is one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, was a former criminal who crossed paths with Captain America while on his way to committing a major crime. Armed with a detachable flight suit, Falcon also has the ability to connect with birds and see through their eyes.
Falcon learned fighting skills from Captain America before joining the powerful Avengers squad. Marvel’s first Black superhero, Black Panther, helped design Falcon’s flight harness in the comics.
In the Marvel cinematic universe, Falcon is played by Anthony Mackie. Another interesting fact: Falcon has now assumed the role of Captain America. Luke Cage, born Carl Lucas, also has roots in Uptown. The former gang member terrorized the streets of Harlem as a teen and ended up in prison.
As a result, Cage fell victim to a series of secret experiments similar to the Super Soldier serum application that made Captain America superhuman. After the experiments, Cage was adorned with super strength and healing powers. Cage becomes a mercenary or, Hero For Hire, alongside martial arts expert, Iron Fist.
The duo was popular in the comics during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s but has since faded into superhero obscurity. A live action Luke Cage film was announced in 2013, and Jamie Foxx revealed recently that he was approached to play the role. Other actors considered include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and singer and actor Tyrese Gibson.