After the release of Black Panther in 2018, there was hope that its staggering success would lead to a surge of superhero films featuring black and minority leads. Two years later, not much has changed. Therefore, I have some suggestions on how to put some color into our cinematic superhero universe.
Spawn was the epitome of ‘90s edge. Dude was a buff-ass ex-soldier/assassin who, after dying, made a deal with the devil to serve him as long as he could see his wife. Long story short, the devil did him dirty by sending him to earth five years after he died with little memory of who he is.
Spawn’s early adventures often had him fighting mobsters, hunting pedophiles and dealing out brutal justice to street-level criminals. It’s an interesting blend of the supernatural and urban decay which, visually, would help it stand out from the current superhero crop.
While the live-action 1997 film was trash, the HBO animated series from the ‘90s has remained a cult classic to this day. Personally, I would love to see a trilogy of stylized animated films set in the world of Spawn.
If your Saturday morning cartoon rituals involved Kids WB then you already know why Static is on the list. After exposure to a chemical explosion called the big bang, teenager Virgil Hawkins gains the ability to manipulate electricity and becomes the superhero Static. High key, I’m surprised Static hasn’t been rebooted since the animated series. A whole generation grew up watching Static Shock. The fact that this hasn’t been capitalized upon but I have to continue to sit through 40-year-old white dudes living out their ‘80s nostalgia confounds me.
In comics, Static was one of the key figures in DC’s Milestone Media, an imprint that featured an array of diverse heroes and written by legends like Denys Cowan and Dwayne McDuffie. The built-in audience recognition of Static could lead to a full exploration of the Milestone universe. Which leads me to…
This one is a bit of deep cut. Hardware is a genius inventor who, after finding out his contract with industrial mogul Edwin Alva is akin to indentured servitude and that Alva himself is behind most of the city’s crime, decides to use the inventions made with Alva’s money to bring him down. It’s a high-tech revenge story. The designs of Hardware are visually stunning and its afrofuturist style would help it stand out from the standard spate of superhero movies. By introducing the Milestone universe we could have our own series of black-ass, interconnected superhero movies. Who wouldn’t love that?
Straight up, this one is because for the entirety of my 27 years on this earth, all my mom has wanted is a Storm movie. Not just any Storm movie; one that proudly showcases her African roots and doesn’t shy away from the fact that she’s a dark-skinned, weather-controlling goddess. A Storm movie should be made because too often Black women are relegated to sidelines in the superhero movie—and, you know, life. Wolverine already had a trilogy in the spotlight, why not give Storm her own? It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for solo Storm adventures in the world of comics.
Of all the heroes on this list, Storm should be the easiest sell to have a movie made around her. Especially if Black Widow is getting one after yeeting herself off a cliff.
The fact that the 2011 movie focused on Hal Jordan has always sat strangely with me. For many my age, our first introduction to Green Lantern was through the Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited cartoons which featured John Stewart in the role. In fact, looking at the character’s history, he’s been the de facto Green Lantern for extensive periods of time.
There were rumors that John Stewart was set to be the star of a Green Lantern reboot in the current DC Extended Universe but given how much the DC films have been retooled, it’s unclear when, if ever, we’ll get to see Stewart don the power ring. ‘Tis a shame, as DC’s cosmic side contains some of the most bonkers stories that have ever graced comics.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Stay with me. So, yes, the tried-and-true version of Superman is peak whiteness. I’m not here to talk about him. I’m here to talk about Calvin Ellis, Superman of Earth-23. Instead of disguising himself as a journalist, he’s the goddamn President of the United States. Writer Grant Morrison basically saw Barack Obama and was like “Yo, what if I put an S on that chest?”
I’m an unabashed stan of Grant Morrison so I’m really just dying to see his stories told on the big screen. Focusing on this incarnation of Superman wouldn’t just add some melanin to the paragon of truth and justice, it would open up an entirely new storytelling sandbox within the multiverse. DC’s bread and butter when it comes to their big Infinity War-calibur events often rests on the existence of the multiverse. Introducing Calvin Elis would give their cinematic universe some much-needed diversity as well as present them an easy path to show what makes DC storytelling so unique.
Those are just some of the heroes I would like to see given the big-screen treatment. I’m sure there are many more that deserve to be on this list. There are no shortage of black heroes already in existence, so there should not be this much difficulty putting them on screen.