EDITORIAL: Why RACE Does Matter in Comic Book Movies

EDITORIAL: Why RACE Does Matter in Comic Book Movies

This is a counter-argument to the article Doxx put up.

For the record, I enjoyed Doxx's well written article. I just totally disagree. And here's why.

1. Comic books are a very visual media. We are always looking right at the faces of the characters we read about. And when I get to finally see my beloved character on the big screen I want the character I've read about my whole life to actually look like the character. That doesn't make me racist, it makes me want an accurate portrayal. It means I have the power of sight.

2. Calling people racist for simply wanting an accurate portrayal is called Ad Hominem Fallacy. Instead of hearing the other sides view, one simply attempts to discredit the other speaker by making an attempt to discredit said speaker to the audience. Because most people would agree, racist people suck. But it doesn't invalidate my argument (and doesn't mean i'm racist for that argument).

Food for thought: Is it sexist if I wouldn't like the idea of a Punisher reboot about a woman named Frankie Castle who lost her husband? Would it feel like the same character? I'm not even saying it wouldn't be a fun comic, I'm just saying it would NOT feel like the same character (to me). And making the character feel the same when adapted for the big screen is the most important thing when undertaking the task.

3. Saying Black Panther and Storm are exceptions to the rule is ignorant. Believe it or not, millions of white people have lived in Africa for hundreds of years. Some are even part of the native tribes. Meaning, Storm or Black Panther could be played by a white actor, according to Doxx anyway.

4. People don't care when they change the race of a character in film for one reason and one reason only: They didn't really care much about the character to begin with. That's it. People didn't much care for Nick Fury until they reworked him for the Ultimate Universe and made him much better. Plus, I think people swallow change much easier when it has been done in the comics at some point. But change the way Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Eric Brooks (Blade), Frank Castle, or Bruce Banner looks and I guarantee people will flip.

5. I love Blade. I'm a huge Blade fan. He is among my favorite comic book characters of all time. I would HATE if they ever cast him white or Native American (I myself am Native American, I think I already mentioned that...) to play Blade. And his race has almost nothing to do with his character. But you better believe blood would be shooting from my eye balls if they cast a Native American to play Eric Brooks.

Which brings me to my final point. My top five favorite comic book characters are:

Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Blade, and The Punisher

Four out of five are white (well the HULK is green but you know what I mean). And I wouldn't have it any other way. Why? Because I want them to look like the characters I've read about for years. I don't care that they were created in a time most characters were white. I don't care why the creator of Blade made him black. All I care about is it feeling like the same character I grew up with and an important factor of that character consistency is visual.

Let's stay on this train of thought. The HULK is green. He has almost always been a shade of green, or grey. Now imagine they were doing another HULK movie (finally) and they announced the HULK would be orange this time around. For no reason other than to change the color. We're told he will be the exact same HULK, his color is just different. Is it racist then to say that would be silly and he wouldn't look like the real HULK at all? Of course not. THE HULK IS GREEN! And guess what? Peter Parker is white. The end.

Would it feel like the same character if Martian Manhunter was red? Or how about making the Thing from the Fantastic Four blue? Or making Luke Cage Asian? It's the same thing isn't it? Race is just skin deep. Yes they look different but as long as the character is the same Doxx shouldn't care. But we all know he would and that's the point.

Just not the same, is it folks?

Not to mention if you change Peter Parker's race you'd have to change EVERYONE else in the stories race as well. Otherwise you'd run into the problem of injecting a racial element into the story that was never there. If Peter is picked on by a white Flash it would make Flash seem like some racist punk white kid picking on a skinny black kid. Stan Lee never intended for that kind of story telling. It would change the spirit of the comic. You would also have to change Uncle Ben since he's blood related to Peter. How is this version even recognizable anymore?

And for the record I can't think of a single Native American superhero, but that doesn't mean studios should nonchalantly change one just to be PC. Find an actor who can play the character well, but part of that is making sure the actor LOOKS like the character.

Also for the record, Michael Clark Duncan was one of my favorite actors. He didn't suck as the Kingpin because he was black, he sucked as the Kingpin because he seems like the nicest F-ing guy who ever lived. Man I wish I could have met that guy. But that's another article I suppose. Peace out my comic book homies. Try not to go too crazy in the comment section.
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BenjiWest - 1/4/2014, 3:05 AM
Wasn't there a Native American X-Men?
DEVLIN712 - 1/4/2014, 3:13 AM
Get ready to be abused man, people will come for your head
DEVLIN712 - 1/4/2014, 3:15 AM
Wolverine's son was native. He led the Brotherhood for a while and was part of Norman Osborne's Dark Avengers.
DEVLIN712 - 1/4/2014, 3:18 AM
Great article though, I can see what you're saying, you want the characters you've read for years. Having a complete change would be strange
Buscemi - 1/4/2014, 3:25 AM
Though Doxx's article was good, I think I might agree with this one a bit more.
And by the way,haven't you heard of Apache chief????
BenjiWest - 1/4/2014, 3:27 AM
@Dev - wasn't there a Native American in the Giant Size, the one that added Wolvie, Storm, and Colossus? I think he had a son as well......
TheRealDorkKnight - 1/4/2014, 3:28 AM
TheAmazingSpiderDumb - 1/4/2014, 3:44 AM
I don't see problems in change the races of secondary characters, like Heimdall or Perry White(and Heimdall become a lot badass with Idris Elba portraying him), but it's not cool when it comes to Main, like Peter Parker, Matt Murdock.
Platinum - 1/4/2014, 3:49 AM

There's both Forge and Warpath from what I know.
iMVuze - 1/4/2014, 3:55 AM
Dead on with pin point accuracy. Hell, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Jollem - 1/4/2014, 4:07 AM
they should make tony stark a woman and give her two chest lights
DEVLIN712 - 1/4/2014, 5:10 AM
They'd be like headlights!
Lhornbk - 1/4/2014, 5:26 AM
I agree for the most part about the visual aspect, except that I will say I get very irritated with fanboys who whine about hair color and stuff like that. Especially in secondary characters and heroes who wear masks anyway. It doesn't make any difference if Grant Gustin is blonde or not. He's a great Barry Allen. Same for Amy Adams being a red headed Lois Lane. About the only character I would be upset about changing hair color is Superman. His black hair is simply iconic.

I think a lot of those who say changing the race is ok are confusing skin color with ethnicity. No, it really shouldn't make a difference if Capt. America's skin color is black or white. But, a big part of Steve Rogers' personality comes from being a skinny white kid from Brooklyn who was bullied a lot. Changing his ethnicity would change that. The same for Batman. He is a rich white kid who saw his parents murdered and was raised by his butler. So, except for minor characters, and some villains, leave them the way they are.
kong - 1/4/2014, 5:38 AM
Actually Black Panther has to be Black. There have been a lot of white people to live in Africa, but that is because they conquered the nations.

Wakanda is a nation that has never been conquered because they are always one step a head of the world in everything. I have a graphic noble on my shelf by Reginald Hudlin entitled "Who is the Black Panther". An origin story that expands on the idea of Wakanda never being conquered. There are no whites in Wakanda because they never conquered the land.

That's why Black Panther has to be black.
DEATHbyEXILE - 1/4/2014, 5:39 AM
Scooby - 1/4/2014, 5:43 AM
If race matters to you in anything then you probably have a small penis :)
SuperBatCap1 - 1/4/2014, 5:44 AM
Man, the idiocy around this thread is just trifling. Seriously.

Look, listen, if a character is specifically stated as a racial color for storytelling purposes then it makes sense to keep it the same, i.e: Black Panther, Storm. But Captain America is a poor, skinny kid from Brooklyn. That's basically. He can be whatever color he wants as long as his honor and heart are kept intact. Superman is an alien from another planet, he doesn't have to be white. Neither does Wolverine, Spider-Man or Batman. Who cares that you grew up with the same skin color on your Superhero? If it wasn't written into the storyline that he/she HAS to be white in order for the character to be who they are then who cares if they change it? Let It Go, dude.
AlternateNo4 - 1/4/2014, 5:47 AM
agreed. some guys have to be white because it's part of their experience set. clark is a midwestern farmer... yes there are black farm families, but their life experiences are vastly different. stark and wayne need to be white because they need to be part of the american aristocracy. as i've been arguing the past couple of days, john stewart needs to stay black (black, not rock-black) as do luke cage and the wakandan royal family. i guess hal jordan should stay white too, otherwise john stewart ceases to be significant.

however, there are some that don't matter as much. sue and johnny? who cares. peter parker? i mean if it matters that much to you then ok, but i don't see why. and as for the hulk, well, keep him green, but i don't see why banner needs to be white. actually maybe banner should be jewish, since the hulk story is based on old jewish folk stories about golems!

anyway if it matters to the character i agree, but some characters i don't think matter as much.
SuperBatCap1 - 1/4/2014, 5:50 AM
Clark Kent is an alien from another planet. Again, whether he's a mid western farmer or not, he's still an alien and still doesn't have to be white.
minusman - 1/4/2014, 5:50 AM
@ Redhood- Actually, BP doesnt have to be black at all. They could retcon him to be a white baby who crash landed and was taken in and raised by Wakandians and who despite being white exhibits all the qualities that it takes to be BP. In fact, it might just be more interesting because then you could have the majority of Wakanda resent him for taking up the mantle of BP and yet he still defends them.
Vegeta - 1/4/2014, 5:53 AM
Batman doesn't have to be white. You could easily change his race. How? Make Martha Wayne black and then we have a mixed race Bruce Wayne. Its as simple as that!
MexicanSexyman - 1/4/2014, 5:54 AM
I don't think it's racist if you want these comic book characters adapted to film to look similar to their comic counterparts. As long as the actor's performance is great, I don't care what they look like. I don't mean that I want the great Paul Giammatti for Superman, but i want someone who has/can get the body shape similar to the comic character they are portraying and have good acting ability. You can still care about characters even though their race might be changed for a film adaptation. Also, no cbm is 100% true to their characters. These films take place in a different universe than their comic counterparts, so it's ok that Wolverine is tall, characters not having accents, and characters' hair color or race is changed. You have to look at cbm as films first then adaptation second, because you won't enjoy any film since all care about is comic accuracy.

AlternateNo4 - 1/4/2014, 5:54 AM
@minusman - a little aquamanny... make an excellent one-shot if nothing else.

@superbatcap1 - he has to blend in perfectly with his adopted species... you can argue that he can look african-american, but either that or european-american are the only choices. he couldn't be asian in midwestern america, and he can't look like an alien.
P862010 - 1/4/2014, 5:59 AM
@SuperBatCap1 you are very wrong about batman and captain america

first of all batman is not only just rich he is filthy rich bruce wayne comes from old money aka upper crust rich lineage that has lasted several generations through his family tree a man of color would be impossible to achieve this

and captain America's whole point to look the way he does blonde hair,white skin,blue eyes is suppose to be a FU to hitler who viewed those specific traits as the perfect appearance so for a man who looks like what hitler finds as the perfect race to be fighting against him is great
minusman - 1/4/2014, 6:00 AM
All of you stating that it is ok to change the race of Steve Rogers, Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Clark Kent, etc because race doesnt matter for them yet you HAVE to keep Storm and Black Panther the same are shining examples of why race is continuing to be an issue across the globe.
Of course it matters- characters are who they are because of who they are- Race helps define who we are- it is part of our history, our family tree, it changes the way we see the world and interact with it.
What matters is how we deal with those differences
Tempo - 1/4/2014, 6:00 AM
Great article

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OdinsMissingEye - 1/4/2014, 6:00 AM
You guys are crazy if you think studios are changing characters race because they care about having a unique assortment of races in their films, because they are sensitive and loving and just want everybody to get along, WRONG.

They are only changing the race of major characters for one reason and one reason only, so they can market their product to a broader ethnic diversity, to sell more product, to make more money. The end.
AstonishingArachnid - 1/4/2014, 6:01 AM
It is a fact that certain characters cant have their race changed no matter what you argue. Even if they retcon them its still an intricate part of their character. Making Luke Cage white would be like making Batman's parents live or making Spider-man into Sheep Man. Part of his character is that he's black. His abuse in prison was because he was black. Same goes for Black Panther if you want to retcon him like @minusman said then hes no longer Black Panther. Hes a completely different character. Small changes like Tony being abducted in a different country is OK. But if you make it that Tony is actually and alien who can control technology and uses his power to create an artificial heart and builds the Iron Man armor by using alien technology from his home planet he's not Iron Man is he?
CrimsonFlash - 1/4/2014, 6:01 AM
Like most things these editorials miss the fact that race in these movies both does and doesn't matter. On one hand I applaud the author of this article for understanding the visual medium that are comics. You look at these characters a ton and then find out the casting is of a different race that is definitely going to be jarring. I like to think of it like this. I am a white male of irish and german heritage as was my father. Now our skin color doesn't really define us outside of an occasional german fest or the like. However if they were to make a movie about my father and I was like oh cool who you gonna cast and they said "will smith". I'd be like well thats certainly an odd choice. And you might respond with "why does race matter he's a great actor". I'd agree but because I've seen my father so much one way to see him portrayed by a Black actor would certainly be jarring on screen.

So why not just keep the characters as close as possible to the way they look in the comics? if you want to have a black spider man, awesome, but have him play miles instead of peter.Black Green lantern? I love the idea, use john stewart. All I know is mandarin was dumb. Maybe Guy pearce really nailed the role of mandarin. I dunno but I do know it was annoying he was some white guy.
minusman - 1/4/2014, 6:02 AM
@alternate- Ya, it would. Be quite cool actually. Much like an Elseworlds tale from DC
UrbanKnight - 1/4/2014, 6:02 AM
It matters because of racist [frick]s, and nostalgia.
DrRockso - 1/4/2014, 6:05 AM
@Tempo- awesome gif
Vegeta - 1/4/2014, 6:06 AM
Batman doesn't have to be white. You could easily change his race. How? Make Martha Wayne black and then we have a mixed race Bruce Wayne. Its as simple as that!
Dinotron - 1/4/2014, 6:07 AM
After thinking about it, I believe that they should just keep these characters as faithful as possible honestly. I mean why change something that has been a certain way for years? I want my black characters black white characters white, there is nothing racist about wanting to see a respectful interpretation if the character.

Jamie Foxx as Electro, yea I think they should have aimed for a white actor, same with Heimdall and Perry White. They should at least TRY to look for good actors that resemble the characters not just good actors. So does that make me racist? I'm black and if someone asked me to portray say Spider-man I would say no because I want an accurate looking Spider-Man.

Will I throw a fit and complain about if the cast a white guy for a black guy or vice versa? No, but I believe if they tried they could find an actor that looks more like said character. Ethnicity can be an integral part of the character, no matter how small. If I was raised in a white family or Hispanic or Chinese I would be completely different character wise no doubt. So for the sake if respecting the characters keep it consistent. It's not racist it's just plain o respect
minusman - 1/4/2014, 6:08 AM
Basically, all these articles for and against race change is BS anyways- From everything I am reading, we are ok with race change as long as we dont love the character or associate with them.
kong - 1/4/2014, 6:09 AM

That's more of a change than making Electro, Human Torch, Perry White, or Kingpin black. This article is about staying true to the source and that would be pulling very far away from the source.
jazzman - 1/4/2014, 6:10 AM
people complaining about something that aint going to happen. all the Main characters will never ever going to change race Film Studios will never change the race of Batman, Superman, etc its a fact. but they will change supporting characters race.

the real argument imo is when you fanboys crying and say Black, Latino, Asian should not audition or even dream to be Spider-Man cause of their colour of their skin or saying Spider-Man will end up been ghetto or urdan is just racist. Peter Parker story is universel to everyone doesnt matter what race u are.

Black Panther or Luke Cage can be played by a white actor. but the truth is Hollywood needs to do more Superhero movies of people of colour first to make that decision.

CaptainAmerica - 1/4/2014, 6:11 AM
Lol it was taken off of main.
mykanmur - 1/4/2014, 6:14 AM
This article makes good points - I'm black and I expect Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man to be portrayed by white actors. I expect this for the same reason as the writer suggests - that's how they've been depicted all my life.

A point that is well worth making though is that it's important to incorporate characters like Storm, John Stewart Green Lantern and Cyborg into these superhero teams in the interest of promoting diversity - the message that "only white people can achieve great feats" should NEVER be sent, which is what an all-white superhero team has the risk of doing.

Kids read this stuff, and it's important to ensure that ALL genders, ethnicities, etc are portrayed. I say that from personal experience as a kid who had to do some "race bending" to pretend to be his favorite superhero.
Dinotron - 1/4/2014, 6:19 AM
Sorry but changing the race of a world renowned hero just to cater to someone's dream of portraying them is not a good idea. They should aim to portray the characters that are their ethnicity and take pride in their own race.
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