No Black Batman for You

Wading into the widening debate about people of color playing roles of superheroes, the Portland Mercury's Bobby Roberts observes that ethnocentric Hollywood producers and American moviegoers would foil any plot to cast Batman as black.

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Sand sculpture of Batman and the Incredible Hulk at a festival in Weston-Super-Mare, England (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Ethnocentric Hollywood producers and American moviegoers would foil any plot to cast Batman as black, the Portland Mercury's Bobby Roberts argues in response to the widening debate about people of color playing roles of classic superheroes.

... It’s a strange tug-of-war that many superhero fans are engaged in. There’s the desire to see superheroes look and act more like the people reading their stories, watching their movies, downloading episodes of their television show. And with the knowledge that everything will likely be rebooted/remade on a 10-15 year cycle anyway, part of the appeal in following superheroes is seeing how these characters are reinterpreted, what new twists are applied, what new beats can be dropped in the newest remix of a culturally significant piece of pop-culture.

But how much can you really want a more diverse pop-culture landscape when you’re not even willing to sacrifice the imaginary racial identity of a completely fictional person? If that’s the price that must be paid to help get that playing field just a bit more leveled out, how can you balk at that?

Unless the racial purity of a make-believe crime-fighter who dresses like a flying rodent to punch out fat socialites is too socially important to play with; that it’s too risky an answer to the question "Why aren’t there more black faces in our escapist fantasy fiction?"

Maybe that’s all there is to it. Batman staying white is more important to people than pop-culture more closely mirroring the audience engaging it. That’s why Batman can’t be black ... because even at such a low cost-of-entry, that price is too high.

Read Bobby Robert's entire piece at the Portland Mercury.

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