Written By: Sheldon Williams (originally posted on Atlanta Black Star)
Growing up Black and watching Saturday morning cartoons, watching sci-fi and superhero movies was oftentimes frustrating due to the lack of identification with the characters. Often we did not see ourselves portrayed as the superhero. Image is very important to children, and by not seeing superheroes who look like them and always being portrayed as white men has an effect on a child’s self-esteem.
However, to me it seemed that comic books were always a little more progressive than mainstream media. In fact, you can trace the rise of modern Black superheroes to the civil rights movement. For example, the X-Men characters of Professor Xavier and Magneto have even been compared to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While comics have not been a bastion of diversity, they have offered us some great superheroes to identify with as young Black children, which in turn helped to inspire the next generation of artists to create even more Black superheroes. Today, there are literally hundreds of Black superheroes and heroines across all mediums with the most iterations coming in the form of comics. Here is a list of my top 10 superheroes.
10. Spawn (Al Simmons)
Spawn first appeared in 1992. A CIA agent devoted to black ops. Once there, he began to question the morality of what his agency was doing. Murdered by his partner in a blazing inferno, Simmons’ soul was sent to hell because he had knowingly killed innocents during his days in the CIA. Simmons made a deal to sell his soul in order to avenge his murder and see his wife. Spawn is ranked 60th on Wizard magazine’s list of the “Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time,” 50th on Empire magazine’s list of “The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters” and 36th on IGN’s 2011 “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.” Spawn has been featured in an animated HBO series, a feature film and several video games.
9. Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
He first appeared as Spider-Man in August 2011. The inspiration for the character was taken from both U.S. President Barack Obama and American actor Donald Glover. Following the death of Peter Parker, a teenager of Black Hispanic descent, Morales, is the second Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. However Morales isn’t the character used for the Disney XD show UltimateSpider–Man. However, he does appear in a third season storyline in which Parker travels through various parallel universes and encounters those dimensions’ versions of Spider-Man, including Morales, who is voiced by rapper/actor Glover. “Spider-Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis has stated that he favors incorporating Morales into the Spider-Man feature films. Miles Morales appears as a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Spider-Man Unlimited and Lego Marvel Super Heroes.
8. Cyborg (Victor Stone)
He first appeared in 1980 and is best known as a member of the Teen Titans. However, in 2011, he was introduced as a member of the Justice League. He appears in several video games, various animated films, the Teen Titans cartoon from 2003 to 2006 and can currently be seen in Teen Titans Go! In April 2014, it was announced that Ray Fisher will portray the superhero Victor Stone/Cyborg in the upcoming film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as the follow-up Justice League film and a solo Cyborg film.
I’ve never been a big vampire fan, so when I came across Blade from Marvel Comics, I had to give Brother man his props. He is the coolest vampire hunter to walk in the sun. Wesley Snipes played Blade in three movies. Rapper Sticky Fingaz played him on television. Blade has had multiple comic titles, several video games and an anime.
6. Power Man (Luke Cage)
He first appeared in June 1972 in “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1.” Imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, he gains superpowers in the form of unbreakable skin and superhuman strength. He was added to the Avengers in 2005 and has appeared in various Avengers titles as member or leader of the group. Actor Nicholas Cage used Luke Cage as the inspiration for his stage name to differentiate himself from his famous uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. Luke Cage has appeared in several cartoons and video games. In 2013, it was announced that Mike Colter will play the character in A.K.A. Jessica Jones, a live-action television series set to premiere in 2015, before headlining his own series.
5. Falcon/Captain America (Sam Wilson)
He first appeared in September 1969. He is the first African-American mainstream superhero. When he was introduced back in 1969, Wilson was a social worker who worked with inner-city youths in his Harlem neighborhood. Falcon was placed as the 96th greatest comic book hero by IGN, which opined that the partnership between him and Captain America forms one of the greatest crime-fighting duos in comics. In July 2014, Joe Quesada announced that Sam Wilson will be taking over as Captain America. The Falcon has appeared in several cartoons and video games. Anthony Mackie portrays Wilson in the Marvel Studios film Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In 2016, Mackie will reprise his role in the sequel, Captain America: Civil War.
4. Green Lantern (John Stewart)
He first appeared in 1972 and was DC Comics first Black superhero. Artist Neil Adams decided to have a substitute Green Lantern and decided to make Stewart Black. In his words “given the racial makeup of the world’s population, “we ought to have a Black Green Lantern, not because we’re liberals, but because it just makes sense.” No affirmative action here; Stewart earned his spot on DC’s roster from pure common sense. Stewart has been featured in hundreds of the Green Lantern comics as well as several video games, the cartoon series JusticeLeague and Justice League Unlimited as well as several animated Justice League movies. His character is rumored to be featured in the upcoming Justice League live-action movie.
3. Storm (Ororo Munroe)
First appearing in 1975, Storm is one of the first Black female characters to play a significant role in comics. In fact, there were only a handful of Black male characters at the time of her arrival. She is the descendant of an ancient line of African priestesses all who could wield magic.Her mother, N’dare, was an African princess who married American photojournalist David Monroe and moved with him to Harlem, where Ororo was born. She was at one point the leader of the X-Men and revered as a goddess in the Marvel Universe. Storm has been featured in the X-Men animated television series, X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men. She has also appeared in four live-action X-Men films, where she is portrayed by actress Halle Berry. Director Bryan Singer announced on Twitter on Jan. 22 that Alexandra Shipp will play Storm in the 2016 X-Men: Apocalypse.
2. Static Shock (Virgil Ovid Hawkins)
Static first appeared in 1993 and was produced by Milestone Comics, a coalition of African-American artists and writers who believed that minorities were severely underrepresented in American comics. Static’s civilian identity was named after the first African-American to go to law school in 1949. Milestone closed in 1997, but Static was saved by the WB animated series Static Shock, which aired for four seasons and led to several comic book series. Static has appeared in video games and comics, has action figures and, of course, is famously known for his cartoon Static Shock. In October 2014, it was announced producer-director-writer Reginald Hudlin is developing a live-action Static Shock series for Warner Bros with Jaden Smith rumored to be playing Static.
1. Black Panther (T'Challa)
First appearing in July 1966, the Black Panther is the first Black superhero in mainstream American comics. Black Panther is not only a superhero but an African king of a highly advanced unconquered albeit fictional African nation of Wakanda. The Black Panther is married to Storm of the X-Men. In 2006, their wedding was a central theme during Marvel’s civil war story arch. The Black Panther has been featured in several video games, has an action figure and has been in several animated cartoons including BET’s animated series voiced by Djimon Hounsou. In 2014, Marvel announced that the Black Panther will be played by Chadwick Boseman and will debut in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, with a solo Black Panther film to be released in 2017.
Written By: Sheldon Williams (original posted on Atlanta Black Star)
White culture has been hesitant to allow too many Black heroes and Black superheroes into mainstream media, but mainstream media have not been without Black heroes/superheroes. In fact, the very term “hero” actually derives from an ancient Black deity by the name of Heru, son of Isis and Osiris.
Yes, the ancient Egyptians were Black; check Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop for further explanation and “10 Arguments That Prove Ancient Egyptians Were Black”.
So, with the very term hero being based on a Black deity, you could actually say that all superheroes are essentially Black and just being drawn and marketed in a form that is easily digested and accepted by the dominant culture. Whether you think they are again appropriating Black culture or paying homage to our ancient ancestors, the fact is there are actually many popular superheroes that use ancient Egyptian names and symbols as their source of superpower.
The Green Lantern Corps uses a power ring with two ancient Egyptian Shen Symbols, which mean eternal protection. The character is rumored to be featured in the upcoming Justice League live action movie set for 2017.
The Moon Knight is based on the ancient Egyptian deity, Khonsu, and uses his symbol the crescent moon.
Dr. Fate from DC uses magic that manifests in the shape of Egyptian hieroglyphs, such as the ankh.
Apocalypse, a Marvel supervillain from the X-Men, was born in ancient Egypt. Fox is producing X–Men: Apocalypse, which is set to be released in 2016.
Black Adam from DC is an ancient Egyptian prince who was given incredible powers by a wizard named Shazam. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been confirmed to play Black Adam in the 2019 live action film.
While the appropriation of culture can be a frustrating occurrence for a community that is struggling to reclaim its identity and is continuing to break down barriers in mainstream media, there are and have always been many great Black superheroes in fiction as well as in real life.
Written By: Kaitie Clink
The best part about a remake in today's cinema are the special affects! Even if the story being retold bombs and the acting is awful, we can at least be dazzled by the sense of sight. We have come a long way, within the last ten years of movie-making; Especially within the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres, One can't help but want the movie industry to remake movies just for those purposes alone! I grew up in the 90's and early Millennium, and I know we can redo those works 10 x's better now. I think that's saying a lot for technical progress for someone who is still in their 20's! To put the icing on the cake, we are opening up to a more diverse society (which is about time!) and we should enjoy seeing the inclusion of other ethnicities, genders, and lifestyles.
The first two Star Trek movies were basically just remakes of the TV series and past movies, but the general population let that slide since the acting and affects were phenomenal The series set up for a reboot of the franchise and it worked. This review of "Star Trek Beyond" is only happening, because of the success of the first 2 films and we can look forward to the new TV series on CBS, "Star Trek: Discovery", in January 2017. However, I couldn't figure out why the popularity of this film seemed to fizzle so fast and why I never heard much talk about it from anyone. I soon found out. - When we think of Star Trek, we think of the future. Not just a few years from now, but we think- "What will life be like 200 years from now?" and Star Trek is suppose to answer that in an action-adventure-type way. Star Trek has always been diverse in casting, intelligence, diplomacy, and culture. Of course, one would hope that 200 years from now we would have made considerable advances in those areas! Sadly, Star Trek Beyond seems to have come up short in all those categories.
So, this was the first film in the reboot series to stand alone and not be made from something of the past, but it just couldn't do it well. While many blame the fact that J.J. Abrams was absent from this one (he directed the first 2 films in the reboot), I can't help but think- Why would there be such a lack in every aspect, just because one man is not a part of the franchise anymore? I feel that critics are generally making excuses for a film's failure that instead of going beyond our time, actually took steps about 20 years back. Had I watched this film in the year 1996, it would have been something acceptable and expected, but as I stated before- We're in the year 2016 and we look forward to the advancements we are making in society and technology.
Let's start with the fact that we divert right back to "dark is bad" and "white is good". So, they made the heroes Caucasian- Captain Kirk, Spoc, McCoy (doctor), Montgomery Scott, and Jaylah. We made the villain, Krall, black. At first it's not really known what ethnicity Krall is, because he's become disfigured, unless you already knew that Idris Elba was portraying him. I honestly could tell right away it was a black man though and later the film does reveal Krall's original human form. Even Krall's second in command is played by an Indonesian actor. The truly sad part of it all, is that Jaylah is actually portrayed by an Algerian actress who is dark-skinned. Yet they choose to make her a being that covers her body in white paint for a truly colorless complexion and has pure white, straight hair. If you are not into the hip-hop or street dance scene then you would not even have known that she was not Caucasian. So, how did they go Beyond in this film, when we're still white washing in it? Simply put- they didn't.
The film also tried to pay tribute to actors who have passed away since the time of the last film and the release of this one, but they really failed at it. They don't hone or relinquish any of the wisdom or accomplishments of the past characters and instead we just are left with confused, sad characters of the present. Really, the characters of the current film did not seem to take any actions that honored them either or showed their success. The audience just sees pictures that we can Google. Many of the beloved actors of the original series and films are aging too,. The franchise seems to want them to show their faces in public and at conventions to rope in the original fan base, but not have any part of the current action or to honor them in the films like Nichelle Nichols and George Takei.
This leads us right into another great big problem of the film- Why in 200+ years from now can women still not save themselves? Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, while clever and even shooting her way out of harm and saving others, cannot save herself in the end; We need a team of mostly men to do that. Even, Jayla, who has a long overdue battle with Manas (Krall's second in command) cannot defeat him or save herself, despite the fact that she has technology and techniques that the crew of the Enterprise need in order to save themselves and their crew; instead she is saved by Kirk and given a second chance in life by Mr.Scott. It seemed all too fitting to have the epic battle scene be between Jayla and Manas, the being who killer her father, but I guess that's just too advanced for Star Trek Beyond.
Finally, there's the sad side stories that just are a repeat of the past two movies. Once again, Kirk is not sure he belongs on the Enterprise or is fit to lead and in the end he discoveries that he cannot stay away from space, the crew wants him to lead, and he is back in the captain's chair. We have the on-again-off-again Spoc and Nyota relationship, but of course, again, they end up together. Plus, Spoc ponders once again if he should be traveling on the Enterprise and what he should do for his race, but still ends up going back out into space. Maybe Star Trek Beyond did not take from the far past, but they definitely couldn't move past the last two movies.
I will say that they did have a few things that were nice to see. We did have more involvement and action from characters we did not get to see out of their chairs much in the last movies; doctor McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov had much more prominent roles. Even Lieutenant Uhura has more air time. We do get a brief peek into Sulu's life as a gay man raising a daughter with his partner and that is definitely a great way to honor Mr.Takei. They even have a truly interracial relationship with Spoc, an alien, and the human Nyota Uhura who is black, but other than those slight touches on these topics, we really don't get much more than that.
There's no question why the film plunged quickly down the drain at the box office. As we advance in the present time, we expect the future to show that and this film did not portray that. Despite how unoriginal in the story line was, We couldn't even get decent action or effects. "Pew-pew" shooting is done with - we are not in the 70's anymore. There were no great martial arts and they destroyed any chance of having a great battle scene. The ending battle between Kirk and Krall was even mediocre, and who didn't know what was going to happen? It was the same as the previous films! We find our captain having to battle alone and restricted by time, and of course, coming out a winner and a hero. Paramount cannot expect the audiences today to watch the future with actions from the past. While many original fans are upset that they have made too many changes to the franchise to draw in a wider audience, they can take rest in knowing that those changes have failed. The general movie-goer wants to be dazzled with effects and connect with the story and Star Trek Beyond does neither.
Justice League vs Teen Titans—premiered at WonderCon in Los Angeles last weekend and I got to sit down with the cast and crew of the new DC animated film. Being a big comic book fan some of my favorite comic books are Team books like the X-men, Avengers, Justice League and Teen Titans. So when DC announced that there would be a Justice League VS. Teen Titans movie I was super excited. After all 2 of the best Super Hero cartoons on TV this century were Justice League and Teen Titans. Oh, I’m not talking about that god awful Teen Titans Go. I’m talking about the original show that travesty is based on. Teen Titans along with Justice League was a favorite amongst comic fans and critics alike it’s got a 9/10 on IMDB. Despite having a hugely successful run of five seasons on TV, the powers-that-be at WB decided to cancel both the Justice League and Teen Titans in 2006. That year Warner Bros. and DC announced at San Diego Comic-Con the DC Universe Animated Original Movies which are direct to video films aimed at an older audience based on DC print comics and graphic novels. While most of them showcase Batman or Superman but quite a few focus on the Justice league. So I was looking forward to seeing what version of the Teen Titans they paired with the Justice league and what the storyline would be. The first thing you’ll notice is the film is set in the same continuity as Justice League: War and the recent Batman animated films Son of Batman and, Batman: Bad Blood. So that means we get Damien as this Teen Titans Robin. There is also a lot of Young Justice elements in here, as well as some from the 2003-2006 animated series, and uses the same voice cast as those films (Jason O’Mara is once again Batman, Stuart Allen is once again Robin, Jerry O'Connell as Superman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman and Shemar Moore as Cyborg). It starts out with the Justice league taking on some common criminals when a paranormal threat emerges and Damien uses a little too much fire power. After which Batman decides that Damien needs to learn socialization and teamwork. Enter the Teen titans. There are a lot of funny moments with Damien adjusting to his new team (Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Raven and Starfire). Even though the title is Justice League vs. Teen Titans the Justice league aren’t in the majority of the movie. The main premise is the Titans taking on the possessed form of the League when they’re taken over by the evil sorcery of Trigon, an inter-dimensional demon. Who, by the way, also happens to be Titans member Raven’s father. Oh, by the way if you have seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice you’ll find the Boss battle remincent of that film. The film is definitely entertaining and lives up to prior Justice League animated films. The film captures the essence of the 2001 Titans Show, The DDR scene will have you laughing and so will Cyborg with his penchant for Pizza. Overall the movie is entertaining and witty a 7.5/10.
Before the screening I got to sit down and talk to supervising producer James Tucker. So my first question for producer James Tucker was why it’s taken so long to see the Teen Titans in a movie and will we start seeing other characters from the DC U in future animated films. Tucker explained that Warner Bros. and DC only fund DC Animated Universe to make 2 movies in continuity a year so they are careful with how they use these projects. “People know what Batman is and people know Justice league and even though you would think they know Teen Titans… they kinda don’t.” So it seems Justice League vs. Teen Titans is a way to re-introduce the team to the masses. When asked if we will see more Teen Titans Tucker explained “We because we only get 2 shots a year. One shot is usually a Batman specific project the other is a Justice League specific project. But hopefully after the release of this movie Titans will be added to that mix and if we get to do more we’ll get to show what happened before this team and where this team is going.” So it seems that the success of this film will determine whether or not we see more Teen Titans. Lastly, Tucker added that he’d love to see the DC Animated Universe do a direct to Netflix or TV series. He said he’d be able to tell give the fans more in depth characters and storylines if he had the benefit of an entire season. “If they gave me the greenlight for a series I’d be all over that.” So comic fans let’s hope sales on this movie are great so that we’ll get a Teen Titans movie going forward. The teaser at the end of the movie suggest we might be getting that original Teen Titans: The Judas Contract movie announced back in 2006 Which I would love to see. Justice League vs. Teen is available now via digital download; it will arrive in stores on DVD and Blu-ray April 12, 2016.
So this past weekend I had the privilege to attend Wonder Con; thanks to Atlanta Blackstar. Word! While there I was present at DCE’s massive REBIRTH title relaunch. There was a stellar collection of writers and artists from DC universe there to discuss their ongoing projects as well as to reveal the future of the DC Universe. I was fortunate enough to hear from the minds behind some of DC Comics' most popular series including HARLEY QUINN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and BATMAN about the future of the DC universe. The event kicked off with Tiffany Smith from DC All Access introducing DC comics’ co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio. Jim Lee talked about how happy he was with the success of the DC universe in TV and Movies but that the comics are where it all starts; Lee “comics are the source material and it’s important to keep them at the center.” He explained that Rebirth was about just that. Dan Didio’s take on Rebirth was that it is a recommitment to the fans and that they felt so passionate about their fans that not only are they going to publish key titles twice monthly but they are lowering their price to $2.99.
Sounds great but what is Rebirth? I mean the New 52 isn’t even old enough for kindergarten why another relaunch? Well enter “the main man” Himself; Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics (Sorry I couldn’t help but drop a Lobo quote). Anyway, Geoff told us that when Lee and Didio approached him about Rebirth he was skeptical, but hopeful as a comic fan because Rebirth is not a new launch but a continuation or next phase of “The New 52.” In fact they told us that it will all lead to the revealing of the biggest secret in the DC universe ever…..Key ominous music. Because they never told us or hinted at what this will be or did they? So we will just have to wait and see. Jim lee, Dan Didio and Geoff Johns also announced that they had signed Scott Snyder (All-Star Batman) and Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn) has been signed exclusively to DC. Speaking of signed…everyone that attended the event got received a signed Jim Lee lithograph of the DC Rebirth line up…Awesome! Overall the event was quite entertaining they gave a rundown of the top titles in rebirth and sneak peaks of the costumes. Check out below and you can see a list and synopsis of the titles below.
Batman: Written by Tom King, Illustrated by David Finch and Mikel Janín (Not many details were given for this title)
Detective Comics: Written by James Tynion IV, Illustrated by Eddy Barrows(the storyline is described as a Batman boot camp with Tim Drake, Cassandra Kan, Batman, Batwoman and Clay face as team members.)
Nightwing: Written by Tim Seeley, Illustrated by Javi Fernandez and Marcus To (the storyline is described as Nightwing finding a new mentor who he feels is better than batman and having to deal with trust and loyalty issues.)
Batgirl: Written by Hope Larson, Illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque (the storyline is described as Batgirl leaving Gotham to go on a backpacking and training mission in Asia.)
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Written by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, Illustrated by Claire Roe (the story here is Barbara Gordon is no longer the oracle but someone is pretending to be the oracle. So she teams up with Black Canary and Huntress to find the impersonator.)
All Star Batman: Written by Scott Snyder, Illustrated by John Romita, Jr., Paul Pope, Sean Gordon Murphy, Tula Lotay, and Jock (classic Batman with a storyline that has him chasing two-face across the country)
Action Comics: Written by Dan Jurgens(the first storyline will be “The Path of Doom” Lex Luthor becomes the Superman of Metropolis and we discover there is a separate Clark Kent from the Superman we know.)
The Super-Man: Written by Gene Luen Yang( Kenji Khan who lives in Shanghai gets infused with Superman powers and has to cope with his new abilities while living in China.)
Supergirl Rebirth #1: Written by Steve Orlando (Supergirl has to decide whether or not she wants to stay on earth or go with her father back to krypton. Oh, and he’s also an evil cyborg with superman abilities.)
Trinity Rebirth #1: Written by Francis Manapul (A One-shot not much info given)
Superwoman #1: Written by Phil Jimenez (not much info given)
Superman Rebirth#1: Written by Peter J. Tomas (not much info given)
Wonder Woman Rebirth #1: Written by Greg Rucka, Phil Winslade (This title will be published twice monthly with 2 storylines running simultaneously. The odd #’s will be contemporary Wonder Woman stories while the even #’s will tell the story of Wonder Woman from Year one.)
Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1: Written by Rob Vendetti (Takes place after Sinestro has won the war and Rebirth starts with him parking War World in the middle of the universe.)
Green Lantern #1: Written by Sam Humphries (2 new rookies Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baez must learn to work together to defeat the Red Lanterns can courage conquer fear.)
Flash #1: Written by Josh Williamson (A Speed force storm creates dozens of speedsters all over central city and the Flash has to train them in how to use their new powers for good; but they all don’t want to be good)
Cyborg #1: Written by John Semper (Cyborg explores the question of what part his soul plays in his technologically advanced body)
Aquaman #1: Written by Dan Abnett (Aquaman wants to make Atlantis a part of the United Nations and the world. The storyline is Rise of the 7 Seas.)
Justice League: Written by Bryan Hitch, Artist Tony Daniel (An all new team of Justice League members)
Harley Quinn: Written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner
Suicide Squad: Written by Rob Williams, Jim Lee
Justice League 50: Written by Jason Fabok (This is probably the title I’m looking most forward to. Geoff Johns revealed at Rebirth that we will finally hear the answer to the question Batman asked at the end of the Darkseid war. That’s right the Jokers real name will be revealed.)
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