Coming out of Fear State, the DC Universe needs a fresh hero, and Jace Fox needs purpose. You know what that means, we’re getting a new Batman, and he’s Black.
The Oscar winning writer/director behind 12 Years a Slave, Red Tails, American Crime and the upcoming Netflix biopic of Shirley Chisholm, starring Regina King, is also a prolific comic book writer, who is currently thrilling and surprising fans with I Am Batman.
I Am Batman features Lucius Fox’s son Jace taking over the mantle as Gotham’s protector, but he quickly finds out it’s not a simple transition when Batman is Black.
In “I Am Batman #6,” with the Fox family needing a new start, and Jace deciding to blaze his own hero path, they move from Gotham to New York.
Ridley spoke with The Root about taking on this new Batman story, reinventing classic characters and the blackness of Batman.
No matter who’s wearing the cowl, writing Batman is always going to be a big ask. However, Ridley was excited about the challenges of bringing the world a new Caped Crusader.
“It’s opening that Christmas gift and you’re excited because you got that thing that you wanted, but now you realize there’s assembly required,” Ridley said. “I gotta put this together, I gotta make it work…all the pieces gotta be in place and that’s the only way this thing will work. You get everything you desire and everything you fear all at once.”
In exploring Jace’s story, Ridley gets the chance to do a nice deep dive into the Fox family. As important as they are to Bat-history, we haven’t been given the opportunity to really meet them.
“There’s an element of franchise here. There’s instant recognition of that name, of the Fox name, but at the same time that franchise, and I mean this in the best way, have not been exploited in terms of who they are,” he said. “To be able to talk about the Fox family, you’ve got instant brand recognition. It’s not this whole new thing where people have to go ‘wait, who are these folks? It’s going to take me eight issues to even wrap my head around them.’ People are aware of them. It is the best of all possible worlds to have a brand that people are aware of, but one that they don’t really know.”
With the Foxes now established as one of the richest families in the DC Universe, Ridley also gets to focus on talking about wealth and power in a completely different way from Bruce Wayne’s influence.
“What does wealth, privilege, power mean to this family? I think it’s really interesting to be able to take a Black family and tell these stories from a perspective where you talk about privilege, but not necessarily the way people think about it when those conversations are had on the evening news,” he said.
Where Bruce is driven by his desire to keep others from suffering the same trauma he did, Jace is on a quest for redemption. These contrasting motivations make them completely different heroes.
“Jace’s story is the exact opposite. He didn’t lose his family, he was the driver of what caused loss in another family. He was the agent of chaos, and has struggled with that,” Ridley said. “He’s seen his father use all of his stature to protect him, and then begin to question wealth and power and privilege. Then in real time, where Bruce doesn’t have a family, Jace has a family and it’s a complicated family.”
“To me, that’s where the difference is, Bruce had his parents taken from him and doesn’t have family. Jace shattered another family, but he does have family, and everything he does has consequence in regards to that family,” he continued. “That’s where it’s different, that’s where it’s unique, that’s what I love about it. It’s not just the Jace Fox story. It’s a family drama. Every week to have the opportunity to excavate more and more of this family that people know.”
Though he’s bringing in his own mythology, introducing a new setting and taking Batman in a new direction, Ridley never loses sight of the character’s importance or legacy.
“It’s an awesome, and I mean that in every sense of the word, responsibility to be the shepherd of this real estate,” he said.
“I Am Batman #6” is now available digitally and in your local comics shops.