Black Superman; Powerful or Pandering?

SO, it has been officially announced that the JJ Abrams Superman project will indeed be a reboot. The screenplay will be written by comic book writer, journalist, and novelist Ta-Nehisi Coates and Abrams will be on as producer. No word yet if he will take the director’s chair as well but time will time.

The confirmation of the reboot means that Henry Cavill has officially lost the role (should have done the damn cameo in Shazam, sir!) and the Man of Steel moving forward will likely be played by a black actor.

This is sure to create some reactions in the community so let’s break it down; is this a poweful move or is this just a studio attempt to pander?

1: Cavill: To get started we need to address the death we saw coming. We know that Abrams was on the fence with the idea of moving forward with Snyder’s Superman, Henry Cavill. My prediction was that the studio would first wait and see how the Snyder Cut performed on HBOMax before making the decision, but no dice!

The desire to kill the Snyderverse continues.

For some fans this is totally fine as they were not fans of Snyder’s vision, while for others it is dissapointing as they hoped that his work could carry on at least on HBOMax.

Is Max still a possibility for Cavill and other actors in these roles? Uh, maybe? but it is indeed looking dimmer and dimmer. I still think we need to see how Justice League performs before we can take this off life-support and call time of death, but for now, it’s not looking too good.

Cavill did indeed piss off a lot of people over at Warner so the decision is not that shocking.

2: Pandering: Now, all that aside, a black Superman! I can hear the internet trolls already getting very upset over this decision. Personally, the fact that Coates will be writing the screenplay gives me hope that whatever is released will be of quality with something powerful to say.

That being said, as much as I love representation and more BIPOC characters on screen, I feel this is just not the move.

I have nothing against race-bending characters. In this particular situation though I find it to be unneccesary. Superman is an extremely established character. We know he is an alien white man. What I can’t help but feel is that this is a cheap move to pander. Why? Because there are TONS of actual black characters in the DC mythos to properly invest in. Taking very established popular white characters and race bending them almost feels like there is no trust that traditional BIPOC characters are good enough to gain the support of audiences.

If Coates were to write an Icon and Rocket movie? SOLD. the majority of average comic people didn’t know who Black Panther was, and CERTAINLY didn’t know what Wakanda was. Then what happened? An amazing film was released and people couldn’t stop saying “Wakanda Forever” for like a year!

If you make the proper investment and effort, even an unknown character can become A-list overnight. I know this is going to happen with Marvel’s upcoming Blade project, Warner’s Static Shock, etc.

I am also in favor of race bending characters where there is not alot of public recognition. I’ve said multiple times on our podcast that I am eagerly awaiting more news and images from Ava Duvernay’s The New Gods because the story, the world, the Kirby art, and the characters are not that known! However, they are iconic and a perfect place to redefine certain characters for a modern audience (High Father, Lightray, Metron, Mr. Miracle, Barda, Orion etc.)

These are great places to make these investments instead of what feels like a shortcut for kudo points.

3:Powerful?: Having a black Superman will be a big deal. It will have an amazing impact on young viewers and many others who will see the movie. The issue here, as we pay attention to stories from behind the scenes, is that it feels very much like an attempt to save face.

When it comes to JJ Abrams, we know that his Star Wars trilogy did a terrible job with John Boyega’s Finn. Boyega has been extremely vocal about the lack of consideration for the character’s devlopment and there’s no dobut Abrams is at part to blame for this.

When it comes to Warner Studios as a whole, we have the drama with Joss Whedon and Geoff Johns which began with Ray Fisher’s comments about their onset behavior. Since Fisher took so much heat for speaking out he has indeed been removed from any future DC projects, but Whedon and Johns have also seemed to have lost their careers as well. Or have they…?

Geoff Johns, as far as I can tell, remains involved as producer on some DC projects such as the upcoming Green Lantern series (he lead a very successful run on the book). Though his in-person engagements will likely never recover, behind the scenes he is still cashing in on Hamada’s favor while Fisher, who spoke the truth, has been ultimatley black listed…BUT WE HAVE A BLACK SUPERMAN SO THEY’RE WOKE.

That’s not it.

This feels very much like a publicity act to try and recover reputations while also continuing to erase traces of the Snyderverse. Snyder aside, I find the lack of accountability and consideration for Fisher to be troubling in the light of trying to show wokeness with an inane diversity casting.

None of this is to say that I criticize Coates position on writing the film. As a storyteller and advocate I can obviously see the potential of the project.

Suspicions of intention rest completely with the studio.


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