Say what you will about Captain America: The First Avenger, but apparently it knows its history. Derek Luke, who previously cut his World War II teeth in Spike Lee’s The Miracle of St. Anna, is officially playing Gabe Jones, the first African-American soldier to serve in an integrated military unit… in the Marvel Universe that is. (Harry S. Truman didn’t actually integrate the American armed forces until 1948, four years after the end of WWII.) Luke’s casting had previously been announced, but only BlackFilm was able to break the story that he’d play the historically significant character who served alongside Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan in The Howling Commandoes.
Although introduced in 1964, Gabe’s inclusion in a war comic was still so unusual that the original colorists assumed his inclusions was a mistake, and in the first issue of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes ‘corrected’ the ‘mistake’ by making him a white man. Gabe Jones would continue to be a significant character in the Marvel Universe, joining Nick Fury as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. before he was killed by agents of HYDRA in 2010’s Secret Warriors #19. Gabe Jones was also an important plot point in the videogame Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – his name was Nick Fury’s secret password to the S.H.I.E.L.D. database.
No word on how big his role in Captain America will be, although we’d be surprised if he’s particularly vital to the plot since he didn’t seem to appear in the trailer released during the Super Bowl. Still, it’s an encouraging inclusion in the upcoming film and Luke is very well cast, having given strong performances in such films as Antwone Fisher and Pieces of April.
Crave Online will return with more Captain America news as it continues to impress us, and possibly even eventually let us down.