CS Top Tens First Edition: Ten Black Characters in Media Who Have Left a Lasting Impression on Us

Hey everyone, welcome to the first Character Spotlight Top Ten list. In honor of Black History Month ending today, we decided to highlight some of the most impactful Black characters we have seen. This isn’t a traditional top ten list per se, as this list was put together by a committee, and thus it isn’t a list saying that number ten isn’t as impactful as number one. Every character on this list has impacted at least one person, and these are characters quite a few of use love. This list will be hitting characters from a variety of different sources so this will be a pretty diverse list. Lastly, I would like to say that this list, along with any future top tens from Character Spotlights will possibly include characters who have gotten spotlights, and definitely will include characters who haven’t as of yet. Without further ado, let’s start our list:

#10. Morpheus (The Matrix)

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Morpheus is the captain of a hovercraft crew in The Matrix. He’s a strong leader and rallies support from a loyal crew. While Neo is the star of the movie franchise, without Morpheus, Neo wouldn’t have been able to do as much as he did.

#9. Cyborg (Teen Titans)

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Teen Titans was a beautiful show. It had a lot of things that should be done everywhere, such as a great balance between humor and drama, strong characters, and very interesting character dynamics. Cyborg is one of the strongest characters in the show, going from the practical joker we see in the beginning to someone capable of leading teams and being his own man.

#8. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

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Steve Urkel is the smartest yet most accident prone kid you’ll ever meet in the Family Matters universe. With his “Did I do that?” catchphrase, he made various people groan in frustration with his antics, but he is still shown to be an interesting character.

#7. Gwendolyn (Saga)

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Gwendolyn is a Wreath Warrior. She was engaged to Marko, right before he left for war. She’s very good in a fight and has the ability to speak in any language. She’s strong, caring and actually has character flaws that aren’t glossed over like quite a few characters in comic books.

#6. Michonne (The Walking Dead)

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Armed with a Katana, Michonne does not play games. She becomes a core member of Rick Grimes’ group and proves to be one of their best people. Having to deal with a background of sexual assault also adds a layer to her, for it isn’t just used as something to push a plot, but it does become part of her backstory, in the comics.

#5. War Machine (Marvel Comics) and Storm (Marvel Comics)

War Machine, a.k.a. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was the partner of Iron Man. He was also Tony Stark’s best friend, and while they had ideological differences, they always had each other’s back. War Machine was necessary for Iron Man because he showed that Iron Man can’t do it all alone.

Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munroe is one of the most popular members of the X-Men. She’s also one of the most powerful, being able to control the weather. Storm actually has led the X-Men too and has led them quite effectively.

#4. John Stewart (DC Comics)

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John Stewart was made popular by the DCAU show Justice League. He is an ex-marine in the show and his tactical training has helped him out a lot in his adventures. In the comics, he’s an architect and because of that, his constructs are the most powerful. If you ask the average person who their favorite Green Lantern is, chances are, they’re either going to say Hal Jordan or John Stewart. John Stewart also refuses to wear a mask, and in his first appearance actually stated: “This black man lets it all hang out!” (Green Lantern v2 #87)

#3. Miles Morales (Spider-Man

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Miles is an example of a legacy character done right. While he is similar to Peter Parker on some levels, he is also his own unique character. Miles showed us that Spider-Man really can be anyone. Spider-Man is actually one of, if not the most popular selling superhero, and for a young black child to be the new face of him, it lets kids everywhere know their dreams can still become and race is not a barrier.

#2. Static Shock (DC Comics)

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I already did a spotlight on Static Shock, which explains in greater detail more about him and why he is so well received. The TL;DR version is that Static is one of those characters that was designed to show the hardships of a minority and of a superhero. Static is always going to be one of the most important characters out there.

#1. Black Panther (Marvel Comics)

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The Black Panther is definitely an impactful character. He is a king of a country, which not many forms of media had shown before his debut, and not only does he say he’s a king, he’s shown it. He’s earned his title of king, and probably is one of the most proactive kings to exist in fiction (and probably in the real world too). What he gives black kids is the thought that anyone is capable of being a king or a queen, race isn’t the factor to it, it’s your ability to lead.

Character Spotlight #2: Falcon

Welcome readers, to the second installment of Character Spotlights. This is the first spotlight where I tackle a character with a huge amount of backstory so the brief history is very brief and glossed over. So without further ado, I present Sam Wilson, The Falcon.

Brief History:

Sam Wilson as a teenager, dealt with the death of both of his parents and extreme encounters with racism which led him to leave his life as a respected community volunteer. He moved from Harlem to Los Angeles, under the new persona “Snap” Wilson, who’s a gang member and a criminal. During one of his scores, his plane crashed on an island, where he met a falcon named Redwing and encountered Red Skull, the nazi supervillain. Red Skull uses the Cosmic Cube to warp reality and to give Sam Wilson the ability to mentally bond with Redwing and rewrote Snap out of existence. He meets Captain America, who convinces him to don a costume and inspire the natives of the island. He becomes the Falcon. He gets recruited to be the token black member of the Avengers (I can’t even make this up) by Henry Peter Gyrich, the liaison for superhero teams. Falcon obviously resents that and quits ASAP. Currently, Falcon is now Captain America (or as I refer to him, Captain Falcon), after Steve Rogers is aged into an old man.

Why is he being discussed?

For starters, Falcon is the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, and that deserves a bit of warrant, especially since this is Black History Month. A lot of his character history has been closely associated with Captain America, as his first appearance was in one of Cap’s comics, they team up almost as frequently as Batman and Superman, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s basically Captain America’s yes man. That last reason was the reason I decided to write this piece. In the comics, he’s had a complicated past, and that past shaped him in the present. Also, even though he’s associated with Captain America, he did have his own personality and his own views. In the movies, we’re not given much about him, other than he will agree with everything that Cap says and that he’ll argue with Bucky over anything.

Now I’m not going to bash the MCU’s treatment of Falcon and not provide better sources for you to get your Falcon Fix. So here are some comics and TV shows where Falcon is a central character:

  • Captain America #115-119 (This 1969 comic run  marked Sam’s first appearance in the comics)
  • Avengers #57-70 (The 2003 series written by Geoff Johns)
  • Captain America and The Falcon (there are the 1970s and the 2004 comic series)
  • All-New Captain America (Where Sam takes over the mantle of Captain America)
  • Falcon #1-4 (A four issue miniseries)
  • Avengers Assemble (An animated series that depicts Falcon as a 17-year-old that Tony Stark wanted to bring to his team)