For the past few months, I’ve been seeing an attempt by the movie, comic and television industry to be diverse and include people of color to their cast or superpower team. One would think that this is a good thing; for far too long the entertainment industry has been “whites only”. It’s good that people of color are being included, right?
No, it’s not.
Why, you ask? Because these same industries are diversifying by putting a “black face” on a white character. Case in point: AMC is developing the Preacher comic into a television series. I was thrilled when I heard the news. But recently, SuperHeroHype has reported that AMC will be making Tulip, the female lead and love interest of the main character, Jesse Custer, black.
What the fuck, AMC?!?
Mind you, most of the cast is white. The reasoning behind this is unknown.
Another case in point, the new Fantastic Four film. Johnny Storm, traditionally a white character, will be black for the newest reboot.
What the fuck, Fox Studios?!?
Again, the reason is not clear. What comes out of this is speculation as to why there has been changes in the races. Typically, all roads lead to diversifying the cast.
To be clear, I’m not against diversity. But I’m against diversifying for no damn reason. To me, there is no reason why they should change the race of two well known characters that were white from their inception. I would start a riot in the streets if Marvel made Black Panther white “just because”. Not only does it have no reason whatsoever for happening, but it takes away and flat out changes the backstory. You would literally have to rewrite T’Challa’s life just to fit it in a white context. Hell, you would have to change his name as well. It causes problems.
Another reason is that there are so many black characters from the “big two” that there should be no need to make drastic changes. There are plenty of heroes to make a movie or a TV show. I’m reminded of Milestone Comics, home to Static Shock, Hardware, Icon, and a host of others, that was published by DC Comics in a deal that was unheard of for a small company. Though they shut down in 1997, they were able to introduce Static Shock as its own animated series and Icon in the Young Justice series many years later (he’s also part of the Justice League, albeit Unlimited).
It’s just baffling how no one wants to put them out there and generate an audience. Perhaps the logic is that a black character cannot succeed without being anchored to a well known hero or team consisting of, more often than not, white people. That’s bullshit. Guardians of the Galaxy was a roll of the dice chance that gave Marvel a huge payday and that team consisted of a green woman, a giant tree and a talking racoon. I don’t see Captain America or Iron Man giving them a boost. Sure, there was a white male lead, but what’s selling more? Star Lord figures or dancing baby Groots?
Simply, there was a chance that this small franchise (small compared to The Avengers, for example) wouldn’t do well and yet it did. Marvel took a risk.
And that’s the key word: risk.
Until the entertainment industry start taking a risk on introducing established heroes of color, I’m afraid I’ll be seeing White Panther sooner than I think.