“Look — up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a black superhero!
Actually, there’s a slew of them primed to infiltrate Hollywood’s white comic-book movie universe, and their inclusion is overdue says Richard Douglas Jones, one of the co-hosts of the podcast Black Nerd Power.
“There’s definitely an excitement and very much the sentiment that it’s about time,” Jones says about recent casting decisions in new and upcoming comic-book films, including the less-than-fantastic Fantastic Four, which stars Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka the The Human Torch. “Seeing black superheroes, particularly in theMarvel universe, has been refreshing, but at the same time, it’s still not enough.”
But, it is a start.
Anthony Mackie makes a brief-but-important cameo in Ant-Man as Falcon, who’s been in three Marvel films so far and appears next in Captain America: Civil War, along withDon Cheadle as War Machine and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Black Panther, slated for 2018, stars Chadwick Boseman (also co-starring in Civil War) as the title character, the king of an African nation. Alexandra Shipp takes on Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, scheduled for next spring. And, Will Smith, like Jordan, has taken on a traditionally white character with his role as Batman super-villain-turned-antihero Deadshot in DC Comics’ highly anticipated Suicide Squad, due next year.
They’re certainly not the first black superheroes in major movies — Smith as Hancock, Wesley Snipes as Blade, Halle Berry as both Storm in X-Men and Catwoman, Michael Jai White as Spawn and Idris Elba as Thor’s Heimdall — but there is significance in this relative abundance and prominence of black fantasy figures during geekdom’s current pop culture reign.
“Demographics are changing and the idea that the mainstream American audience is this white audience is over,” says BirthMoviesDeath.com’s Devin Faraci. “It’s taken a very long time for the media companies to understand this.” However, Hollywood’s injection of inclusivity has less to do with racial enlightenment and more to do with finances, he adds.
“The reality is that this kind of social justice change is being motivated 100% by money. The studios look at who’s going to the movies and they want to make those people come to more movies. I’m not going to complain that there’s a more capitalist reason for things getting more diverse, I’m just happy things are getting more diverse…”