EDITORIAL: Black Super Heroes On Film

EDITORIAL: Black Super Heroes On Film

My thoughts on the black super heroes we have , and may still see in the adaptations of out favorite comic books. I also weigh in on the reasons Marvel might be taking their precious time on Black Panther.

Now when Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito stated that Black Panther would be difficult to pull off, I scoffed at the statement thinking the same thing everyone was at that moment, “that’s BS”. You guys just created Asgard in Thor, how can Black Panther be difficult to pull off? That’s when it hit me. It’s not difficult to pull off in terms of creating the CG elements of Wakanda. It’s difficult because of the majority black cast.

This isn’t to say that Marvel/Disney (Darvel? Misney?) are racist. I do not believe that to be the case. Being black, I’d love to see more of the black/African-American heroes get the silver screen treatment. I just believe it’s hard to market a black super hero, Black Panther being exceptionally difficult. Look at the origin and environment of BP. First they’re supposed to be the most sophisticated country in Africa. As audiences to CBMs, we’re expected to waive our expectancy of realism or plausibility; this might be something hard for audiences to do just because of how war torn and underdeveloped Africa is usually portrayed (and quite frankly, the portrayals are usually accurate). Second, this would call for them to portray the native people of this African country as those who worship animal gods and gain powers by taking either special herbs or eating the animal (in the case of Man Ape). Nonetheless, this wouldn’t be a good look for Marvel.

Ulysses Klaw, a white man, comes and invades the land for their Vibranium. Yea…not a good look either. So you can see why BP would be hard to pull off. People will say this is a poor attempt for diversity or either throw the race card out faster than a fastball from Strassberg. I believe Marvel will be able to adapt it properly but obviously there are some big obstacles to overcome for it. Going back to the black super heroes, why aren’t there more of them? Well I think I answered that with the predominantly black cast that will indeed be hard to market. Blade was good and I’d love to see a reboot, but he was the only black person in that movie besides the chick he saved from Frost and his mother. Luke Cage could do well, after he gets out of prison (the main obstacle with that, seeing that most of the prison population is black you can see the direction views on it would go) he’s surrounded by Caucasian people (except for his love interest and his enemy Diamondback). Most black characters pop up in sidekick or secondary roles like Falcon in the Captain America sequel, Rhodey in Iron Man, or Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (seriously, it’s Sam Jackson, the guy best known to ALWAYS play the YELLING/ANGRY black guy).

There is no getting around having a majority black cast in a movie, it doesn’t even have to strictly pertain to CBMs. Hell, there’s uproar of when a black actor/actress is cast in what most people would think to be a white role (Idris Elba as Heimdall and Amandla Stenberg as Rue). Elba even has a quote asking about the popularity of Inception had the cast been black.

“Imagine a film such as Inception with an entire cast of black people – do you think it would be successful? Would people watch it? But no one questions the fact that everyone's white. That's what we have to change."

I believe Mr. Elba has a good point here. The good thing is that we are starting to see more and more black actors get roles, not just in CBMs. I’m not trying to incite race arguments of any kind. I’m just trying to voice my opinion on why I think Marvel is taking their time with Black Panther and other properties (let’s remember they’ve expressed interest in doing the Luke Cage movie), which I believe is something they have to do in order to work everything out so they bring a faithful adaption that isn’t offensive to the general audience because we all know we as comic book nerds won’t be offended as we (Black, White, Asian, Martian? Martians exist right?) are actually looking forward to these films. I look forward to seeing the debate in the comments. Hopefully the more offensive/inconsiderate ones won’t pop up.

Chuck for Riddler 2016

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kong - 9/26/2012, 5:26 PM
I like this article. Black Panther and Luke Cage DESERVE heir own movies. Their will be black kids that could dress up as a superhero on Halloween without someone saying the them "That superhero is white not black" it happened to me when I was superman when I was 6. I think miles morales should be in his own movie also.
TheAmazingSpidey63 - 9/26/2012, 5:42 PM
Sweet article, bro. And now that you've brought this up and all, I can see the type of obstacles that Marvel and pretty much many CBMs have to overcome to accomplish these things. I'm with you on this 100%. I just hope that soon, if/when Marvel can figure a way to get production started on Black Panther, Marvel can start bringing in and marketing more black characters/superheroes/villians. Again, bro, an awesome article.

marvelguy - 9/27/2012, 9:54 AM
Good work. I think there's more to be said here.
Ghostfire - 9/27/2012, 12:26 PM
Great article brah! And very true. Those are points that people tend to oversee instead of being realistic.

And one more thing, Chucky, you're black??!!

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GSpawn - 9/27/2012, 12:38 PM
Chuck this article is a really good look at how Marvel goes about their heroes who are black, many people just assume Marvel are racists who don't want to give these heroes their proper film but as you've stated, that is FAR from the case, they're just stuck on how to properly adapt these characters to fit in the marvel universe now/make them work as a CBM, great article, you get the virtual approval of Gspawn
CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 12:50 PM
Thanks for all the love. It was really something that hit me and then I realized how sensitive America can be. They tried to say Residen Evil 5 was racist (i didnt think so and hadnt given it thought until I heard about the uproar) because it was a "white man going to Africa to kill black people". Yet I heard nothing about RE4 and killing the Spanish people. Anyway, it is indeed something that needs to be discussed further cuz these are characters that do deserve their chance to shine along side the others. Plus it gives me a role to actually pursue lol
Ghostfire - 9/27/2012, 1:05 PM
I still stand by second statement chuck.. im still shocked...
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Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 1:07 PM
this is a great article, i've been meaning to write something like this actually. i agree and disagree with you though. i honestly feel like they can do the adaptations, and you're right they are scared because they have no idea how to market a predominatnly black movie. honestly it isn't that difficult to adapt BP. first off it's a comic book movie so people going in expecting for realism are just idiots in my opinion. you can put a superhero in real world situations but at the end of the day the fool has powers and is flying or shooting plasma blasts out there hands. BP could be the most realistic because of all the controversy. yes it's a white man coming to africa, but he's going for vibranium. he isnt there for anything else but vibranium. BP becomes his enemy because he stops Klaw from getting it. so that's not even racism rigth there. that's just another dude wanting power. and why doesnt anyone bring up the fact that captain america was all about nazis. that has more to do with prejudice than what they could do with BP. and it's quite prejudice to say oh since most countries in africa are poor than it's completely unbelievable to have a rich country like wakanda that is so advanced. and some tribes do worship animals. they still do. this article is great but seriously marvel just doesnt want to market an all black cast because the world expects tyler perry movies from black people. if marvel just got there shit together and said hey lets be the first to make a mostly black superhero film that isnt made like a black film. don't hire a black director unless he's right for the job. dont hire a black writer unless he's right for the job. just write and make a film for all audiences. like that rom com "Think Like a Man" that film was made for all audiences with a mostly black cast. it was written by white people. directed by a black guy. and it felt like a movie for everyone. there was nothing offensive about it, like the majority of black films which are full of steryotypes. marvel can make this film. it just sucks that the world is full of prejudice and certain things wont be done because people are too scared to take risks( hence the fact that there arent many original films being made)
Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 1:09 PM
BP is the most realistic marvel character just because of it's controversy.
CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 1:25 PM
I see your points made. Think Like A Man was adapted from a book by Steve Harvey, a black guy. And even tho Klaw invades for Vibranium, its still a white man invading an African country looking to steal something. Thats all I was saying. And Captain America was created for US propaganda and our biggest rivals at the time were the Nazis. Everyone hates Nazis so we understand why Cap fights them.

And you bring up realism, yet thats the thing that would be work against BP. Yes it's a CBM and we waive or realism right but its not prejudice when we know African has some of, if not the most, poorest countries in the world. So one highly advance country that rivals technology of Asia or America would be very hard for me to believe if I were not already educated in BP lore.

I do agree that its a shame that the world is full of stereotypes and have movies that reflect them, but all stereotypes are based on some type of truth. I should know. I believe Marvel wants to make a BP and Luke Cage movie, but theres no getting around the sensitivity of America. Plain and simple. The comics (more specifically Luke Cage) were written in an era of stereotypes that created the character. They just have to work on the adaptation so its faithful yet not controversial/insensitive
Ghostfire - 9/27/2012, 1:25 PM
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CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 1:33 PM
Soto i want to see him brought to screen, i just know the difficulties (many of which you listed for marketing) with the film. They just gotta take their time
Grimfoe - 9/27/2012, 1:42 PM
I wasn't enthused with yet another article decrying the racism of comics and the movie industry, but I don't disagree with your stance. These are major obstacles to overcome. I tend to think that racism is overblown in this country and it is more of a generational problem. My kids don't have an ounce of racism in them. They find it to be a foolish idea, quite frankly. Why on earth would you judge someone solely on the color of their skin? My parents were somewhat more racist. Racism is still a problem today, largely because many aspects of society TELL us it is a problem. If we weren't so quick to cry racism every time something seems unfair, we may realize that sometimes things are just unfair and, in this day and age, much of it has very little to do with race. Much of society no longer cares about race.

With that in mind, I think the larger problem here is that comics have been around for a long time. There is inherent racism and lack of equity built into many these characters. Unfortunately, that means that their origins will need to be rewritten somewhat to make them viable, stand alone characters. It's a different time. Hell, it's a different century. We don't need more black heroes, or more hispanic heroes. We need more heroes that happen to be black or hispanic.
marantaz - 9/27/2012, 1:51 PM
I'll agree, well stated and well reasoned, Chuck. And I like your comments as well, jpfola26. I'm white, and I have always wondered why the supposedly open-minded Hollywood keeps casting the same white actors in all their movies, rarely giving a black (or anyone of color) a decent chance to portray a non-stereotypical character. Those that do get cast as stereotypes end up complaining that they don't get better roles and become undesirable by the studios and their careers are over. Michael Clarke Duncan was the exception in Hollywood, in so many ways.

My hope is that Marvel, and Joss Whedon, intend to use the SHIELD tv program to introduce characters from the Marvel Universe, and thereby expose the masses to characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage, Shang Chi etc. I think BP is rather easy to introduce... as the leader of an African nation with a vital natural resource, the intrigue and villains involved, both internally and externally, could be a series unto itself, and SHIELD involvement in that makes perfect sense. I hope they don't ignore that potential.
rondz123 - 9/27/2012, 2:25 PM

That comment made no sense that whole statement is a contridiction. And its sad to see that people dont think blacks can be a diverse crowd of people or movie cinephiles.
ellispart3 - 9/27/2012, 2:30 PM
can not agree more brotha
rondz123 - 9/27/2012, 2:45 PM
I agree and diagree with some of what you said. If the audience can believe in thor then whats stopping them in beleving Bp. i just think its western thinking that stops a lot of diversity in movies.

The U.S. has some of the most unsophisticated movie audiences in the world thats the main problem.

@ wallymelon you didnt go retard others just need to catch up.
Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 2:58 PM
@ghostfire @spidey really? full retard?

@chuck look i get the fact that everyone hates nazis, that wasn't the point i was making. i was stating the fact that you can have a movie with people that hate another country just because and people can portray german hating everyone but ou're saying it's difficult to portray another european country invading africa for it's resources. homie. that's incredibly insensitive to all peoples. white people did invade africa. slavery happened. africans sold slaves to white men for food and whatever technology they had at the time. it's a problem that hollywood doesnt want to portray the genocide that america and europe has done because (wait for it) white people will look bad. it's not about being racist. it's not about not liking black people or portraying them strong. it's about not wanting white people to remember all the shit they did before the 80's.

@grim you are very ignorant to think that this country isn't as racist as it used to be. hollywood is the most prime example because it is in the spotlight 365 days a year. if hollywood was as forward and liberal as they say they are. there would be more mixing in tv. almost every sitcom or drama is mostly white. all the black shows are bs tyler perry crap. if tyler perry was really about doing something good for the black community you wouldnt see these awful sterytypical films and shows.

@marantz you are the man.

@jpfola26 as usual you are dope aswell

Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 3:00 PM
@rondz123 thank you so much man! someone gets it!
WEJAlen20 - 9/27/2012, 3:59 PM
Good article, Maybe Marvel can make Drax in GOTG black. I could see a black guy playing Drax

misterm - 9/27/2012, 5:27 PM
First of all, this article is outstanding. Well thought out, well written. Kudos!

Second, not to be funny, but I always thought Zamunda from "Coming to America" was a great homage to Wakanda and a Black Panther movie. Hell, tech it up a bit and they could use the same sets! Hell, they could use most of the same cast!

CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 5:29 PM
@WEJAlen20 actually i was thinking the same thing

@wallymellon LMFAO wally you DO know the point that you made about it making white ppl look bad is one the points i made right? Why do you think its difficult for them to pull off with all those things I mentioned? NOBODY wants to see anything CLOSE to wat white ppl did all those years ago. This is why I said America is so sensitive. Ppl throw around the race card too frequently. And why do you think it was ok with Cap fighting Nazis in his comics? Hes PROPAGANDA. So at that time it was ok to EVERYBODY that he was fighting nazis cuz he was helping protect the country. And no, a man from a european country goin to invade africa for its resources is NOT insensitive to EVERYONE. And dont try to school me on black history. Im not trying to argue with you but um...i dont think you read the article...
GSpawn - 9/27/2012, 6:20 PM
Are you seriously trying to say Klaw invading Africa for vibranium will remind people or white's in general of when Europeans came to take slaves?GTFO Wakanda is a fictional place in Africa that contained a FICTIONAL item called vibranium, Klaw wasn't invading Africa or Wakanda because he hates the continent lol he was trying to finalize a sonic weapon, do you know what the closest thing to racism would be in a BP film? Klaw killing BP's father...let that sink in a little, you are acting as if Klaw slaughtered as many Wakandans as he could, he got vibranium, killed ONE dude then left, and yes jackass its okay Cap fought nazis in his comics? Do you know why its okay? Because its not prejudice if you look at WHY he fought the nazis, he is a propaganda tool, not prejudice -_- Cap didn't slaughter countless innocent nazis stop being so blind as it being insensitive to races
NosferatuZodd - 9/27/2012, 6:26 PM
Boo Hoo!
look at all of you. you might as well say "i got a black friend. do you think im cool now?"
the reason there is no black panther movie is because there is not audience for it. maybe straight to dvd but not theatrical. just because a few fanboys on cbm.com and and some black actors who need a job want this does not mean it's gonna happen.
hey maybe bet will make a cage or bp movie.

@rondz and wally. you dont like u.s. movies? go watch some low budget euro trash movie. you uppity douches!
CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 6:35 PM
but arent i already cool then since im black already? Dunce cap. But I see you're trolling so I'm not going to entertain your comment
Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 7:21 PM

@ nosferatu what a completely idiot comment. are you kidding me there isnt an audience? its a great story that anyone would be into. like how can you not see how dope it is to have a completely rich nation like mumbai in the heart of africa and they happen to have a superhero. seriously imagine nick fury being pissed that this fool can hack into sheild and he doesnt want to share his fancy toys. imagine tony stark being obsessed with all the toys black panther has.

@gspawn no fool, if you can read then you would probably understand that i said if you can portray a german nazi in a film and have a whole movie with germans killing people and committing acts of genocide, then why can't you portray 1 man coming to a fictional village and trying to take its resources. l

seriously how can all of you act like america hasn't committed some form of genocide? since before we were a country all we do is go to country and play it cool to only stab em in the back and then say this is our shit. we've been doing it forever and it was the white man. the only reason i continue this argument is because you're all so ignorant to whats right in front of you. if hollywood wanted blacks portrayed in good light then half of inception would have been black. most tv shows and movies would be incredibly mixed. but since people like @nosferatu around that isnt going to happen.
BlackWarrior - 9/27/2012, 7:36 PM
I said the same thing on the article where they said wakanda would be too difficult. Yes, it is because they are afraid or don't know how to use and promote a predominately black cast.

The audience is most defiantly there; like Wallymelon said. The story is great and would make a good movie for all audiences.

It is time black heroes get shown some love and get to be in the lime light.
CharlesLord - 9/27/2012, 7:40 PM
Im not acting like I dont know americas history when its kinda hard to escape. I see wat hollywood is doing which is why i said Id like more blacks in general roles period not just super hero films. Cap didnt show the nazis committing genocide or killing everyone, we as a nation already knew wat they did. However because america is the way it is, wat with racism still existing and ppl being overly sensitive to everything racial, you KNOW it wouldnt be just fine if they showed a white man goin into an african country (fictional or not) to invade and take resources without backlash. Ppl WILL wonder why the white has to invade and steal from africa. So YOU need to stop acting like you dont see wats goin on in your face. Everybody else understands the difficulties while youre calling everyone ignorant to the fact that racism and prejudice still exists. We KNOW. This article is about Marvel realizing some ppl are gonna get offended by some of themes in a movie like BP or Luke Cage dude.
DrainBamage - 9/27/2012, 8:15 PM
Track record for black superheroe films hasn't been all that good. Blade was the only real hit. Steel bombed. Spawn was disappointing. And Catwoman...I'll just leave that one alone. So you can always make more, but where's the quality?

Nonetheless, reality be damned. If they can have a talking, gun toting racoon in a film, then they can have a high tech African country in another.

In the comic book world, you watch villains battling heroes. My friends didn't care who was black or white. Manta vs. Aquaman, Blade vs. Frost, Klaw vs. BP...it was all about who was cool and who wasn't.

I mean, it would be nice to have more black super heroes on film aside from the ones we've already seen, but I don't put a lot of thought into it. I just go to be entertained.
Wallymelon - 9/27/2012, 8:25 PM
@chuck fool what more needs to be explained about a guy wanting vibranium. in the ultimates movie they made klaw a chiatauri and he wanted vibranium because its frikin vibranium. who wouldnt want vibranium if it exists. frikin people want blood diamonds. its literally the same thing. no one is going to expect some elaborate ass explanation for why this fool needs vibranium. he wants to take over the world and wakanda is the only place that has something that precious. its not that difficult. nothing about it is racist. you have to be ignorant to even remotley feel that theres an issue that theres a white guy in africa that wants a frikin rock from space. thats the ignorant prejudice ive been talking about. and i know exactly what this article is about. i wasnt even the first to bring up race. i just merely addressed what was already being said.
lokibane2012 - 9/27/2012, 10:47 PM
I'm a person of color, so obviously, no racism intended.

Black Panther can't be pulled of YET, because cold turkey nobody's gonna see a superhero movie with an all black cast.

I could go into a long analysis about who's fault it is, and who's a racist, but I won't.

All I'll say is that the way to pull off Black Panther (in a manner that would lead to a franchise that grosses hundreds of millions), would simply be to not let the audiences go into the film cold turkey. Add him to the Avengers 2 and show him off like they did with the Hulk in Avengers 1. Make the fans want to see a spinoff series with the characters, and then give it to them.

Black Panther has a rich history that, if explored, could make for some really entertaining movies. But if a comic-book ignorant movie-goer sees a trailer/poster/other-ad for a black superhero, set in Africa, they'd be a little less than enthusiastic to go watch it opening day.

So in-short, put him in Avengers 2, make him look cool, so you have a large pre-built audience to watch the solo film when it comes out.
Unmasked - 9/27/2012, 10:50 PM
Great article!

I think you touched on a lot of great points here. I believe that an African American hero CAN work. I think the problem just lies in who that African American actor is. Let's face it......There are only a had full of popular black actors that are hot right now. The two usual suspects are Will Smith and Denzel, but Idris is really coming up though. Anyway back to my point....I think it can work. For example Will Smith did Hancock a few years ago. It did pretty well in theaters. His star power alone made people interested in a hero that doesn't even have his own comic book.

Been awhile lol....so lets see if I still got it.

You've Been UNMASKED!
CharlesLord - 9/28/2012, 1:03 AM
@Wally you do know that the ultimates was a CARTOON right? They're going to take liberties with cartoons for the story and the blood diamonds analogy was a poor one because people HATE the business behind blood diamonds, FOOL. FOH dude. Americans can be ignorant, Americans can be sensitive to a movie like this. I'm not saying that racism is the direct cause. Im saying that movies with black casts are generally hard to market and the fact that aspects of the story mirror the dark history of America, people will voice their displeasure because someone WILL indeed pull the race card like you have when its not that serious.

All Im saying is Marvel should take their time and just create a good plan to introduce BP. Lokibane came up with a good idea of drawing that attention by sticking him in Avengers 2. Im done responding to you about what I'm trying to say.
AnimatedTdot - 9/28/2012, 1:39 AM
I think marvel is planning to slowly introduce more and more black title characters in their films, because they recently started with Nick Fury even though a lot of people hated the idea as well as Heimdall, Warmachine. (Not to mention Blade 1&2, 3 does not exist to me) It seems they are doing it so it doesnt look out of place ie one film there's scarcely any black people then the next its a whole film of black people. Idk just my thoughts could be wrong.
Grimfoe - 9/28/2012, 3:45 AM
@Waymellon: How does a black man making a stupid, stereotypical black show make white people racist?

I'm not the one that's ignorant. Stop putting crap on BET and blaming me for reinforcing a stereotype. I say racism is dying because fewer and fewer people in each generation give a shit what color someone is. That doesn't make me ignorant, that makes me old. Being older sometimes adds a little perspective.
evyllsummer - 9/28/2012, 4:57 AM
I've always loved the Black Panther, and I would LOVE to see a movie! However, I think that it might be easier to start him out VERY WELL WRITTEN in Avengers 2, then that could possibly springboard into a film. And since Whedon knows him well, Chiwetel Ejiofor FTMFW!!!!
sameoldthing - 9/28/2012, 6:59 AM
If Marvel Studios makes a Black Panther movie,tons of asses hit the theater seats.
Marvel has already proven they make quality films & BP deserves one.

Cast the film correct & get a quality script & director..Market it well & race of character won't matter.
Make a good film & let it speak for itself.
GSpawn - 9/28/2012, 11:53 AM
Dude...there's a HUGE difference between blood diamonds and [frick]ing vibranium, blood diamonds are used during war to finance insurgencies, a warlord's activity, or an invading armies war efforts...Vibranium is an other worldy metal used to make cap's shield or wolverine's claws -_- bad analogy

and you wonder why we can't or need to trend about how a white man invades Africa for resources eh? Well this is something they taught you in 4th grade, its because of the racist history in America, it'd make people uncomfortable (even though its not serious) to see a white man invade an entire nation of Africa of its resources because they know shit like that actually happened, and that's not even what the film would be about lol if you go into BP thinking the whole film will put emphasis Klaw taking its resources or involve genocide of a nation as a history lesson you're retarded, that's why its alright to see shit like that in films involving nazis, its mostly a film based off the events of WW2 and people know that from the get go OR barely involve them at all (Indiana Jones, captain America) BP's focus isn't on Klaw taking resources and has to be careful be careful on that point for those 2 reasons: it isn't a main focal point of the story nor will it have any relevancy to the character except the origin which in this case the scene of Klaw taking vibranium will probably last like 5 maybe 10 minutes AND it is going to make certain audiences disturbed or uncomfortable, what's so hard to understand?
StSharp - 9/28/2012, 12:16 PM
I agree with you that it would be hard to tackle this, but I think people would watch it if it had great black actors that people are familiar with. A lot of the time when theres a movie not many would see (not because its a bad film, just has a smaller target audience) they use star power, like Looper...lol

Anyways, I loved Blade and I also like Black Panther and Luke Cage, and it would be awesome to see them on the big screen! And I disagree with your Nick Fury statement! The guy is the head of SHIELD, he brought everyone together. Hes basicaly the BOSS! Sure hes a "secondary character" but without him there wouldnt be an Avengers...

On a side note, Marvel will know theyve made it when a white kid wants to dress like a black superhero! :D

StSharp - 9/28/2012, 12:25 PM
@lokibane2012 I get where youre coming from, but The Hulk in Avengers is never a good example...weve seen him before and Joss Whedon has said millions of times that they were picking up from the last movie. Hulks story just grew (with a new look and actor) but he was still the same character. It wasnt like we had just met the guy. And yes, I would go see a movie if I saw a poster or trailer with an African American actor. I think any superhero fan would, I mean its never too late to learn about a new hero (if you dont already know about em) we basically crave more hero flicks, dont lie! LOL

And by the way, look at Hancock, sure he was the only black man in the movie, but Hancock got some good reviews and people went to see it because it was a good movie. And when people like a movie they tell EVERYONE. More ticket sales right there. And if it means using star power than so be it, as long as its a quality film.
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