Thursday, March 19, 2015

Classic Corner: Colors for the Win?

By Da CogNegro

With the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron around the corner, everyone is being whipped into a frenzy about any tidbit of news related to  the future of comic book adaptations. However,  recent surfacing of pictures of Jason Momoa as Aquaman ,the announcement of Will Smith as the villainous Deadshot and other murmurings of traditionally white characters possibly being played by actors of color, have resulted in some vehement and vitriolic feedback. Recently, Michelle Rodriguez, of Fast and Furious fame, was questioned about  circulating rumors  regarding her role in  the upcoming Green Lantern movie. After scoffing at the question, she proceeded to state that  "minorities need to stop stealing white super hero roles!" 

I find this to be quite odd that Michelle  would  have this complaint being that she is of Latino descent herself. Anyway, she attempted to clear the air by posting an apology video on Facebook explaining that she meant no harm with her perceived, inflammatory statements. Rather, she just wants Hollywood to stop being "lazy" and for minorities to create their own "mythology" when it comes to superhero lore.  I an extent!

As an avid comic book fan for the past twenty-seven years , I am a stickler for  authenticity when it comes to adapting the material for the silver screen. These stories and characters have worked for decades and have a faithful following. Switching the mythology of these characters for the sake of being radical, "PC" or drawing in a new crowd is nothing more than diluting  and butchering the source material that we have grown to love!  I understand that slight "retconing" may be needed in order to feel a tad bit more contemporary. For example,  the original setting of Iron Man's origin was the Vietnam War not War in the Afghanistan as depicted in the movie. However, some changes are being done simply for shock  and controversy under the guise of "equality"For example, Micheal B. Jordan, who is a fantastic actor, has been cast as Johnny Storm in the upcoming clusterf.....I mean adaption/reboot of the Fantastic Four. Now for those who aren't familiar with the origin of Marvel's first family, Scientist Reed Richards is accompanied by, his then girlfriend, Susan Storm, her BROTHER Johnny Storm and college friend Benjamin Grimm on a mission to space. Of course, things don't go according to plan and they are soon stranded on a strange planet after their ship is bombarded with cosmic rays. As a result, they are all bestowed with fantastic powers. In the Fantastic Four comic, Sue and Johnny Storm are Caucasian siblings. I have no idea how the movie will explain the relationship between a black Johnny Storm and a white Sue Storm and frankly, no explanation will be rational or, in this instance, convoluted enough for me to accept it. I felt the same exact way when the late Micheal Clark Duncan was cast as the villainous Kingpin in Marvel's Daredevil.We get upset when Caucasians are cast as characters of other ethnicities because it's deemed offensive and inaccurate. Therefore, the same ire should be raised when actors and actresses of color are used to portray characters that are originally Caucasian.

However Ms. Rodriguez , there is a  plethora of diverse comic book heroes and heroines that Hollywood can adapt into feature films. Therefore, there is no need for a new mythology to be created because it already exist. For example, in 1993, Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan  introduced the Milestone Imprint under DC Comics. Milestone featured a cornucopia of characters that included the the heroic Icon, the inventive genius of Hardware, vigilantes known as Blood Syndicate and the most popular hero of the lot : Static!

Milestone's Debut Line of Comics

Not conventional enough for your liking? Well how about Marvel's Night Thrasher! By day ,Dwayne Taylor is a philanthropist  who runs the charitable Taylor Foundation. By night, he is the armored hero poised to challenge the scourge of urban decay! 

What about Living Lighting and Cecilia Reyes?  Both have served as either as an X-Men or Avenger and  are of Latino heritage!

Even as it relates to sexual orientation, Northstar and Shatterstar are two gay males that have been integral heroes in the mutant community!


So no Michelle, it's is not a fact that actors of color are "stealing" these particular roles. The true issue  is that Hollywood fails to utilize the surplus of diverse characters for its' projects. If this was done, there would be no need to cast "minorities" as characters already established as being Caucasian. You can simply just use these actors for characters that already exist!

Fortunately, it seems that Hollywood, or at least Marvel Studios, is listening to the fans' pleas   to showcase more diverse heroes with the planned release of both Black Panther and Ms. Marvel. It definitely shows a true effort  to explore the various facets of the comic universe and allows those who believe that they are not  presented in such a heroic capacity to truly be represented by characters that were originally meant for them. Besides, I can not wait  until small suburban children beg their parents to dress up as a "Black Panther" for Halloween!

Um Jimmy dear, isn't there a nice Spiderman costume that mommy can buy for you instead?

-CogNegro Out


  1. goes.
    1) the cluster fuxk part was spot on. Black human torch just rubs me wrong. Like I literally "wtf how" when I found out. I have a issue with movies fucking up comics in general. I also heard dr. Doom is actually a game nerd or hacker in the movie and not the green hooded ruler of some foreign land we all know and love.
    2) that was a damn bold statement she made. Like as soon as the words left her lips she should have known the room was about have a funky breeze because the shit just hit the fan.
    3). I'm also not a fan of thor being a woman and SUPERMAN...getting a new power. Like wtf for. Why does HE, of all people need another damn power. It's like giving thanos two gaunlets! Or giving silver surfer the power cosmic AND the Phoenix force. POINTLESS POINTLESS POINTLESS!
    4) the milestone portion was just cool. I love those comics and ICON IS MY FAVORITE. 5) lastly....why is it that almost ...75% of electric based heroes are black. Lol like that's the token power to give a brotha.

  2. I have a counter point we are dealing with fictional characters so unless the characters race or ethnicity is integral to the characters backstory I dont see the issue. Do i expect to see a king of the african nation of wakanda thats white no. Just the same i dont expect to see hydra a nazi off shot headed by a korean. No one has an issue when a character like the mandarin who is asian is played by a half indian half white brit (or the fake mandarin for that matter).

    What about peter parker's up bringing says he has to be white. I will use batfleck as an example. Are you telling me denzel washington playing a older worn down batman wouldnt have been a better choice the the man who bought daredevil to the big screen (and no the directors cut was still awful).

    I will use an example from literature red in the story written by stephen king s irish in the movie shawshank redemption hes black and played by morgan freeman there are few actors who could have played that role better.

    When youre dealing with fictional characters unless there background screams w.a.s.p. changing a minor detail like skin color doesnt matter weve seen the white washing of ethnic characters since movies began. So im not goanna complain if aquaman is played by a samoan if we have to sit through johnny depp playing tonto

    1. Great points Khalil, I did point out however that we have taken issue with Caucasians playing roles not designated for them and how there shouldn't be a double standard.

      Now to your point:

      Those who have expressed their disapproval when it comes to actors of color being cast in the role of white characters (in this instance, white superheroes) usually fall into one of two categories: 1. Those who champion authentic representation of the source material and 2. those who are enslaved to their own myopic and primitive racial ideologies. I will not spend my time lambasting those who choose allow their prejudices to fuel their views, rather I am focusing more so on those who want to see accurate depictions of said characters upheld. The notion of color blindness sounds very Utopian on paper. However, skin color will always be a disgusting, identifying characteristic of all . In fact, I think that subscribing to color blindness actually strips us of our own, individualistic, cultural identity. Therefore, when a actor of color is cast in such a role, it becomes a distraction or deterrent rather than incentive. Therefore, why create such a scenario in which attention will be drawn away from the source material at hand? There are enough characters of color, which have their own rich stories and adventures, waiting to be adapted into film. So many, that there is not a need to create "manufactured" buzz and controversy all in the name of selling tickets. I encourage all of you to visit the website World of Black Heroes to get a glimpse of the underrepresented.

  3. All that aside, if they make a Power Girl movie, and she has an "A" cup. I will start a protest of the film. Some things I let slide...that I will not. I will not I say!