Speaking Saturday at SXSW, author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates explained his recent decision to take on another high-profile Marvel superhero as its comics author. While Captain America may seem like an agent of nationalism and unwavering politics, Coates sees an optimist who believes in the potential of the United States—and he reminds him of a certain POTUS.
“He’s like Barack Obama,” Coates said. “He’s someone who believes in the ideal of America.”
Coates said he finds the superhero’s humanity in a combination of “admirable idealism” and “disappointing naïveté.” He said that growing up in West Baltimore in the ’80s, in a household that studied and followed Malcolm X, Captain America was barely in his periphery as a comics reader. But as an adult, Coates says he was too quick to write off the character.
The Atlantic writer also spoke about why he thinks Black Panther, another Marvel character that he recently wrote, has become an international hit. It starts with director Ryan Coogler.
“He’s a great filmmaker,” Coates said. “If the craft is not well-done none of that matters.”
But he also celebrated the film as a pan-African project starring Black people from the world over, calling it a “beautiful testament to the diaspora.”
Coates’ Captain America series is set to debut July 4.