The comic book movie and TV space — like all other genres — has always been populated by white people. This is a choice considering the comic book world has been inclusive with their characters when it came to heroes of color, LGBTQ characters and other characters from traditionally underrepresented communities. This hasn’t always been reflected in what we have seen on screen — until recently.
One can argue that Marvel’s Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler and starring the late, great Chadwick Boseman was a watershed moment for representation. Warner Bros. and DC have also been bolstering diversity within the ranks of their own Justice League and it has mostly been in their TV space with the CW’s Arrowverse with shows like Black Lightning and Batwoman, the latter featuring the first TV iteration of a Black, queer version of the hero via Javicia Leslie. Beyond that, the forthcoming HBO Max Green Lantern series is looking to cast a gay character while Ava DuVernay’s Naomi will also feature a female Black lead in Kaci Walfall.
On top of all this, DC is looking to start a new chapter with their Warner Bros. movie universe. Apparently the Flash movies will introduce a whole multi-universe which will help shake off the remnants of the universe Zack Snyder left behind. Word is that Sasha Calle will appear as Supergirl and the OG Batman Michael Keaton will pop up as well. The studio are also developing the first Latino-led superhero pic with the character of Blue Beetle which will be helmed by Angel Manuel Soto. To add more inclusivity, they are now looking for a Black lead for an new iteration of Superman written by the brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by J.J. Abrams.
A Black Superman isn’t exactly brand new. Comic book writer Grant Morrison and artist Doug Mahnke introduced the character of Calvin Ellis to DC Comics in the Final Crisis story line which launched in 2008. The character was not only the Man of Steel, but he was also president of the U.S. in the storyline. If you want to get further into the inclusivity of the character, DC introduced a Latino version in Hernan Guerra as well as an Asian iteration in the Superman of China Kong Kenan. That being said, Superman is fluid when it comes to race — and it seems that Warner Bros. is embracing all of this.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the story will follow the traditional story of Abrams does not want the film to be “tone-deaf” so they are looking to get a Black director as well — which should already be understood from the jump if this is going to be a Black-led film. Rumors are already stirring with who they are going to pick. Names that have been thrown into the ring to direct this upcoming Superman pic include Regina King, Shaka King and Creed II helmer Steven Caple Jr.
Speaking of Creed, rumors of Michael B. Jordan stepping into the role of the all-powerful Kryptonian — and we’re sure that everyone else has their own wishlist of which Black actor will be the Man of Steel.
This could be a major turning point for DC as their features spotlighting iconic heroes have been a bit rocky, to say the least. However, this inclusivity is welcomed. With Coates on board as writer (he is no stranger to comics as he has penned Black Panther comics), they have the fuel to create something phenomenal. Even so, Warner Bros. and DC walks that fine line of being performative and tokenizing. With the right director, actor and story in place, this iteration of Superman can be a film that will empower the Black community and reinvigorate the DCEU.