The King’s Director

It was recently confirmed in the February issue of Empire Magazine that “Creed” director, Ryan Coogler, will be directing the upcoming Black Panther movie. That is Fantastic News! If you have not seen “Creed” I strongly recommend that you do, it is truly a great film. I think that Marvel getting such a promising upcoming director to helm the film shows that the studio is serious about quality. There is one scene in “Creed” where Adonis Creed is fighting one of his early opponents and it was beautifully shot, in one take no less!

Image courtesy of wearewakanda.com

It’s sad that Ava Duvernay passed on the opportunity to direct this film but I am happy for Ryan Coogler. Mr. Coogler was asked about the importance of having someone of a similar gender or ethnic background as the main character of the movie and he said something pretty profound. He stated that the director could give a cultural perspective on that film character because they share a common trait. I think that’s very interesting, I don’t think that a Caucasian director couldn’t do a superb job on Black Panther, in fact they could. It would just be that extra nuance and truthfulness that a director of African ancestry could give to a film about an African King would make the film all the more better.

So, what do you think about Ryan Coogler being tapped to direct Black Panther? Do you think he’s the right person for the job or do you think they should’ve gotten someone else? Does it matter if the director of the Black Panther movie is black? Please sound off in the comment section.

Take care.

True Warriors

In one sense I feel like comics have gone back in terms of diversity of characters. I remember that one of my favorite comics was New Warriors. The characters debuted in Thor # 411. They were a group of teenage heroes headed up by Night Thrasher who was an African American multi-millionaire. A lot of people looked at him as just Marvel’s Black Version of Batman. If you followed along with the characters you could find that he in fact was way more than a Sepia-toned Caped Crusader.

New Warriors2
A picture of my well-worn New Warriors: Beginnings trade paperback

What really got me was that you could have a legit super-team led by a black male and he was not a stereotype—he was intelligent, well-traveled and decisive. Unfortunately in the space of the big two, Marvel and DC you don’t see that now a days. Granted, the all-new Marvel comics will debut a diverse Avengers line-up but this is still months away. I think the problem is not just to throw in diversity for diversity’s sake but to also put in very layered characters from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. That’s something that Marvel did very well with New Warriors and it’s something that they would be wise to do again.

I am curious as to your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Invisible (Super) Woman

I am a big fan of comics and genre material as you can very well tell, based on the fact that I have this blog. The pop culture atmosphere is changing such that genre material, like comics, is reaching more and people. With the success of movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it has never been a better time to be a fan boy (or girl). Now that these characters have bled into the mainstream consciousness there is something missing in these movies. Diversity.

Many internet outlets and You Tube channels such as Beyond the Trailer, IGN, Clevver movies; to name a few; have pointed out how male oriented these superhero films are. They consistently ask for more gender equity when it comes to superhero films. I totally agree with that assessment. People don’t  just simply eye candy superheroines, but fully realized and equally powerful female superheroes. It seems like they are trying to make strides with movies like the most recent Avengers movie having two women on the team. The only thing that is often missing in these discussions about the need for more female superheroes is a big glaring lack of minority female superheroes. Outside of Storm from the X-Men movies can you name one significant minority female superhero in the recent slate of comic book movies? Yeah, I’m hard pressed to come up with one as well.

Monica Rambeau, one of the other characters to carry the mantle of Captain Marvel. Image Courtesy of : Marvel.com

While I think that it is awesome that Marvel is planning on coming out with a Captain Marvel movie with a female lead, and DC is doing a Wonder Woman movie, I can’t help but think how many female fans of color are missing out on a reflection of themselves on the silver screen. And although the new Supergirl TV show at CBS this fall looks nice, I can’t help but think that it looks like Ally McBeal with tights. In an America where 17% of the population is Latino, 13% is African American, 1.2% is Native American, and 5.3% are Asian (according to U.S. Census estimates)  it is a shame that there are no (with exception of Storm) female superheroes of color on the silver screen. In a world, where Furious 7 is the highest grossing movie of 2015, with a cast that looks like a Benetton ad,there is simply no excuse for the lack of female superheroes of color.

Captain Universe. Image Courtesy of Google images.

That’s why it is well past time that a property is put out there with strong female superheroes of color who are not stereotypes but in fact strong, interesting individuals. I have a couple of characters in my new novel which fit that bill and I think that you’ll be impressed. Stay tuned.

Cheers,

The Hyphenate

Avengers Assemble….Again

Hi All,

So, I know by now everyone’s at least seen the second Avengers movie. In my opinion I think that the movie was excellent even though there have been mixed reviews on the film. I’ve heard complaints that there were too many characters (which there were) and that the plot was all over the place (which I disagree with). In essence I think the movie did a brilliant job of balancing the various storylines from the previous characters’ movies while still moving the team narrative forward. The only real problem I had was that it was too short. Yeah, I know that’s movie blasphemy but I think that this movie deserved a 3 hour run time. I think that the movie could have explored the depths of Ultron’s hatred toward his “father” Tony Stark. In the comics they explore this oedipal relationship pretty well with the “father” being Hank Pym and not Tony Stark.  Ultron could have been a little more menacing but I think that James Spader did a great job over all.

Avengers: Age of Ultron roster. Image courtesy of: Aceshowbiz.

Another thing that the movie could have explored more was the growing tension between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Even though they had (SPOILERS!) a brief fight in Avengers Tower, after Vision emerged from his casket everything was all hunky-dory. I know if I was in a fight like that I wouldn’t just forget it and act like things were were cool. Nah Jack, I want revenge! Maybe they’re just saving that for Captain America: Civil Ware. One other area of improvement could have been to at least reference Black Panther. They mentioned Wakanda but failed to acknowledge the ruler of that country.

Overall I think that this was an excellent movie. It wasn’t the same as the first movie but different in a good way. In closing, it looks like the movie is trying to address the common complaint that the team is lacking diversity.  The new team (MORE SPOILERS!) has two African Americans and two women.

The New Avengers MCU line-up. Image Courtesy of: Comic Vine.

I think that this is a start but even more can be done. The Avengers have a rich history of diverse characters including the new Captain Universe, who is an African American; Manifold; Monica Rambeau a.k.a. Spectrum a.k.a. Captain Marvel; Triathalon; Shang Chi; and of course Black Panther. Diversity works, look at Furious 7, it has made over a billion dollars worldwide and is in the top 10 of the highest grossing films of all time. This is a cast that reflects not just America but the world.

Image Courtesy of: Shortbox

Hopefully Kevin Feige and other movie execs will realize that if they portray a diverse cast onscreen (and Marvel has the characters) then they can rake in as much if not more cash than a less diverse one. I am writing a novel which addresses this very thing—a team of diverse, fully realize characters with amazing abilities and conflicted agendas. Be on the look out.

 

 

 

 

My Main Man Miles…

Of course I am talking about Miles Morales. Since his debut as the new Ultimate Spider-Man there has been a lot said about the character. He’s definitely developed a huge following. So much so that there was a big push to make him and not Peter Parker the next big screen iteration of Spider-Man.

Image Courtesy of comicvine.com

 
Now, I can understand how some may want this but also I can see how others may want to stick with good old Peter Parker. My only problem is that they want to go back to High School Peter Parker. To that I say….ENOUGH! C’mon the character has been around since 1962 with Amazing Fantasy number 15. He’s a grown man, let’s see him as such on the big screen. Granted, the Sam Raimi version of Spider-Man was the closest that we’ve seen of a big-screen adult Peter Parker but even then, he wasn’t fully realized. I want to see him married to Mary Jane and going though the struggles that come with a real life marriage and busting up Hobglobin’s face. If you think about it, most of the demographic that collects comics now is in that age range anyway. I understand that they want to get younger viewers but who actually has the disposable income to go to the movies in the first place?

Photo courtesy of: WorldofBlackHeroes

With Miles though, there’s an opportunity to cast a wider net in terms of audience. You can get a more racially diverse group as well as a younger audience while still keeping the older comic faithful fans. I think maybe a small-screen version of Miles on a Netflix or Hulu could be a great first step. In fact, with the success of Daredevil and others to come I think that this would be an excellent option. The only suggestion that I would make would be that Miles needs his own rogue’s gallery. As a fan of the Ultimate line I’ve seen that Brian Michael Bendis is pitting Miles against Peter’s own enemies or Hydra. He needs a wider range of villains unique to him. I think that will make him stand alone as unique character and not simply “The Black Spider-Man.”
That being said, I think that it’s time for a diverse group of heroes who aren’t portrayed as token side kicks or fodder for the bad guy to beat up on. I want fully realized, human and interesting characters of color represented in the print pages and on the big screen. That’s something I wish to do with my forthcoming novel. I’ll keep you all abreast as things develop. Take care.

 

Leave it up to Letty…

Sorry I just had to go there with this post’s title. As many people have all heard, Michelle Rodriguez set off an internet firestorm when she told TMZ that minorities should stop “stealing white superheroes.” The full quite courtesy of the Huffington Post website is as follows:

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Because of this whole ‘minorities in Hollywood’ thing … It’s so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own.”

To her credit, she later clarified her statements on her Facebook page with the following statement (NOTE: I did get this exact text courtesy of CBSNews.com):

“I stuck my foot in my mouth once again,” she said. “I said people should stop trying to steal white people superheroes. And I guess it got taken out of context, because a lot of people got offended.”

“What I really meant was, ultimately at the end of the day there’s a language, and the language that you speak in Hollywood is successful franchise. And I think that there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology. It doesn’t matter what culture you come from. I’m just saying that instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or Latin character, I think people should stop being lazy and people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology.”

“It’s time to stop. Stop trying to take what’s already there and fit a culture into it. I think it’s time for us to write our own mythology and our own story — every culture,” she added. “So that’s what I meant. And I’m sorry if it came off rude or stupid — that’s not what I meant. Cheers.”

Now she does make a few valid points. A lot of the characters are well-established and as such should be represented as they were originally created. There are a lot of comic purists, and I can be one to a certain extent, who believe the characters should translate exactly from the comics page to the silver screen. On the other hand, many of these characters were created in an era that was a product of its time–majority white. In addition, many of the characters were representative of their creators or what their creators aspired to be. All due respect to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Bob Kane, Steve Ditko and all the other comics legends, but I wouldn’t expect them to create a black female superhero in the 1940’s because that wasn’t their reality or necessarily what they could relate to. I will give Jack Kirby and Stan Lee credit on being forward thinking and creating the Black Panther.  I think it’s important that the pie should be expanded in terms of the superhero genre to reflect more of the way the country is now.

Marvel’s Black Panther: Image Courtesy of Marvel Fan on Wikia

That gets to my next point. In her apology, Michelle Rodriguez notes that, “it’s time for us to write our own mythology and our own story.” Here is where she misses the boat, people of color have been making their own mythology for years but it just hasn’t hit the mainstream as widely as their Caucasian counterparts’ has. For example, in 1993 Milestone Comics was created by the late Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis to address that very issue–the lack of diversity in comics. They created such memorable characters as Icon, Rocket, Static (from the Static Shock Cartoon), Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, Hardware and so many more diverse and interesting characters.

 

One of my favorite comic duos: Icon and Rocket. Image Courtesy of: Movie Pilot

It wasn’t just their skin color that made these characters stand out, it was their personalities and struggles that did. Unfortunately Milestone went defunct in 1997 but it has recently been resurrected by Reginald Hudlin (Django Unchained) and many of the original creators. You can read more about it at this link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2015/01/21/exclusive-milestone-media-rises-again-hudlin-cowan-and-dingle-will-revive-company-with-eye-toward-characters-of-color/

Furthermore, there are other creators of color who are currently doing their thing like Brandon Thomas  (The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury) and Brandon Easton (Shadow Law). So, I think that she should have done a little more homework before making her statement on Facebook.  The other thing that Michelle Rodriguez fails to recognize is that even if there’s a plethora of minority superheroes on the market, movies headlining them will have to be greenlit by a movie executive. In this current risk-averse climate where a lot of movies are either reboots, book adaptations, or comic book movies, many execs would be less likely to approve a project with little known superheroes. They would rather greenlight a film with an established track record (i.e. Superman or Spider-Man) than say, Miranda Mercury or Icon. Not that the latter books aren’t awesome, it’s just that they aren’t as well  known to the wider non-comic reading audience.  Also, you have to look at the execs who can greenlight a film. With the exception of Kevin Tsujihara at Warner Brothers, the rest of the CEOs of the major studios are Caucasian men. Without people of color in position to greenlight a film, it’s less likely (although not impossible) to see a superhero movie with character of color at the center.

Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara. Image courtesy of LA Times.

 

I think that there is progress being made but we still have a ways to go in terms of seeing superhero films with people of color prominently displayed. I am looking forward to the Black Panther movie, although it has been delayed because of Spider-Man. I am also looking forward to the new Suicide Squad movie with Viola Davis and Will Smith. I am curious as to what you all think.

 

 

Welcome to my blog

Hi, this is my first attempt at blogging so bear with me. I hope to expand on this in the future. Be on the lookout for more insightful discussion regarding the state of superheroes as well as the future of superhero-themed movies. I will also tackle the recent brouhaha that Michelle Rodriguez started about minorities creating their own mythology and “not stealing white superheroes.” It should be fun.