Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why Black Panther & Luke Cage are Important to the Super Hero Genre

With calls for diversity becoming more and more prevalent throughout all forms of media, I thought now would be a good time to give my thoughts on this topic as it pertains to the super hero genre. Comics have always been an escape of sorts for me. Growing up, I was/still am a nerd/geek and fantasy stories are my favorite type of storytelling. Also growing up (and this pertains mostly to comics) they weren’t that many heroes that looked like me or that I felt I could relate to in any shape or form. As a matter of fact this is probably one of the main reasons that the X-Men comics resonated with me so much at that time. The characters were different and diverse (so to speak), also they were pretty much hated just for walking the earth and breathing air. If you read comics you know that crossovers and events happen from time to time and these type stories can be good or bad depending on who the author is and how the story plays out. This was how I was initially introduced to the characters of Luke Cage and Black Panther.

Fast forward a few years and Marvel Studios have made a “connected” super hero universe, the new hotness as it were. Not to mention that their NetFlix shows so far have been nothing short of outstanding. With that being said, at least on the movie side of things, there hasn’t been much change on the diversity front. I know that there are black actors in these movies, however, when I look closely it just seems like they are the token sidekick that just so happens to be black. I am also fully aware that is how it is in a majority of comics but at the very least now it is being addressed. This summer’s Captain America Civil War had two standout performances, one of them being the Black Panther, T’Challa crown prince of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Chadwick Boseman did an excellent job in the role so much so that people wanted to see the Panther movie ASAP! This is an awesome thing that the character was well received because it opens the doors for many other characters. Hollywood is a very interesting animal in that they go where the money can be made. It’s widely known that the Black Panther movie will have a majority black cast. Which is completely understandable as the comic is about the king of an African nation. It is also being directed by Ryan Coogler who is also helping to write the film. If this movie does well then this can very well be what opens the door for heroes of other ethnicities as well.

On the NetFlix side of things Marvel has been doing an awesome job. The two seasons of DareDevil and one season of Jessica Jones made it seem like they pulled a lot of their actors from The Wire. I must admit that I always thought that Cage would get his own movie or at the very least a Heroes for Hire movie would be made. However, after thinking about it, NetFlix is probably the best way to go with his character. This show, like the comic will be based in Harlem, New York. Like Panther, this show will have a largely black cast which is more than likely due to where it takes place. Once again, if this show is well received then doors should be wide open for other more obscure and riskier characters to get there moment in the spotlight. Characters like Static Shock, John Stewart (the Green Lantern not the former Daily Show Host), Hardware, Icon, Rocket, Blue Beetle, and many others. There is one catch though and that is there must be support. Showing support is the best way to get studios to have more faith in those riskier projects. It will also lend itself to more ethnically diverse filmmakers getting a chance to show their talent behind the camera. Showing support will hopefully open the eyes of the studios and writers of these projects to realize we are more than just mystical magical Negroes, sassy jive talking friends, token sidekicks, thugs with a heart of gold, drug pushers, pimps, athletes, or gangsters. That we can be seen as warriors, kings, queens, heroes, nerds, geeks, doctors, lawyers, artists, or just plain normal people.

Post by Jay

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