Ta-Nehisi Coates became a best-selling author with his book “Between the World and Me” and the same year he took a job with Marvel comics writing for the titles Black Panther. That series started off as a big hit. A spin-off series he created called Black Panther and the Crew didn’t do as well and was canceled after just two issues:
After just two issues, Marvel is canceling Black Panther & The Crew, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ latest series following Black Panther and some of Marvel’s better known black characters. Coates tells The Verge that the cancellation is due to poor sales, and the series will end after six issues.
However, the following year, Marvel and Coates agreed he would write Captain America for the company. When Coates accepted the job, he wrote about the decision for the Atlantic:
I have my share of strong opinions about the world. But one reason that I chose the practice of opinion journalism—which is to say a mix of reporting and opinion—is because understanding how those opinions fit in with the perspectives of others has always been more interesting to me than repeatedly restating my own. Writing, for me, is about questions—not answers. And Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream? What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of.
And then there is the basic challenge of drawing with words—the fear that accompanies every effort. And the fear is part of the attraction because, if I am honest, the “opinion” part of opinion-journalism is no longer as scary it once was. Reporting—another word for discovery—will always be scary. Opining, less so. And nothing should really scare a writer more than the moment when they are no longer scared. I think it’s then that one might begin to lapse into self-caricature, endlessly repeating the same insights and the same opinions over and over. I’m not convinced I can tell a great Captain America story—which is precisely why I want so bad to try.
I take him at his word, that he didn’t want to just put his words in Captain America’s mouth or repeat his opinions to the point of self-caricature. As much as I don’t care for Coates politics, I’m convinced his love of comics is genuine. I say all of that because it puts the rest of this story in context. Yesterday, someone pointed out that a recent of issue of Captain America written by Coates features the villain Red Skull apparently sounding a lot like Jordan Peterson:
What the hell? https://t.co/CGkuztpEjq
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) April 6, 2021
Peterson’s first came to attention through a series of YouTube videos watched in a format like the one depicted in this image. He then wrote a bestselling book titled “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos.” So you can see how the image on the screen appears to be referencing Peterson. I’m not aware of Peterson ever writing anything about “The Feminist Trap” but a well known hit piece about him written by Nellie Bowles for the NY Times labeled him the “custodian of the patriarchy.” It really was a garbage hit piece, but I very much doubt Ta-Nehisi Coates noticed. After all, he’s won awards for pieces no better than that.
In these panels, which apparently are part of the same page, Captain America describes the Red Skull as telling men they are “secretly great” and that they need to “fight back.”
Do I really live in a universe where Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a Captain America comic featuring a parody of my ideas as part of the philosophy of the arch villain Red Skull? https://t.co/waFsAvWlfd
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) April 6, 2021
I don’t own this issue and I’m not even sure when it was published so I don’t actually know for sure this is Coates work but the timeline appears to fit and I don’t see anyone claiming otherwise. Naturally, there are plenty of Peterson critics whose basic take on this is “If the shoe fits…”
You're so close to getting it.
— Alisha Grauso (@AlishaGrauso) April 6, 2021
Look at that shoe; it fits.
— anthony “two masks” fantano (@theneedledrop) April 6, 2021
There are hundreds more responses like these. Of course the problem is that these aren’t Peterson’s ideas. He doesn’t tell men they are “secretly great” he tells them almost the opposite. He openly tells them to take responsibility for their lives (starting with cleaning their rooms) and try to accomplish something positive for those around them. What Coates has done here is take that view and pretend it’s indistinguishable from the message coming from a character who, in the comics, is a genuine Nazi and mass murderer.
If you’ve seen the first Captain America movie, which features Red Skull as the villain, you know his goal was to take over the world and supplant Hitler as leader. He would do this by bombing major cities and killing millions of people. That’s what Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks Jordan Peterson is about? Really?
It doesn’t make much sense apart from the kind of far-left opinion that Coates said he was hoping not to repeat to the point of caricature. I think it’s fair to say he failed to meet that particular goal. This is a clear confirmation of Godwin’s Law which puts it firmly in the category of know-nothing online commentary. Someone should give him a Godwin Award to go with his Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
The fact that Ta-Nehisi Coates was trying to come up with the most evil supervillain he could and the best he could do is a Canadian psychologist who writes about Jungian analysis and encourages young men to make their beds is pretty telling.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 6, 2021
Indeed. The only question is what Disney is paying for this dreck?
Update: Lots of reactions to this from across the spectrum. This guy has a good point.
— De Mondige (The Vocal One)🦁🎗️ (@DeMondige) April 6, 2021
Some Peterson fans see the obvious disconnect:
Yes let’s vilify the man who tells us to clean our rooms, find a partner with whom we can grow, approach conversations with an open mind, and solve our own problems instead of waiting for someone else to do it for us. https://t.co/52sXrjwoRz
— Ricky Guerrero Z. (@rickywarriorz) April 6, 2021
But you don’t have to be on the right or a fan of Jordan Peterson to see what Marvel is doing here is BS.
I think Jordan Peterson is a complete charlatan and a fool but this type of shit proves Coates is exactly the same. They are both somehow elevated as deep intellectuals but neither give a shit about anything except engaging in the bullshit culture war to enrich themselves. 🚮🚮 https://t.co/lGHgcI26fN
— AOC is a Conor Lamb Democrat 🐬 (@mrrager1987) April 6, 2021