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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