The haters of Superman are at it again folks. It doesn’t stop. When you hate a character but want to steal that prestige because only the characters you like should be popular, you boil it down to the barest concept you can and claim the names for yourself. It’s a running complaint here at the Spotlight, and now an article by Ruben Baron on CBR, a site that used to be Comic Book Resources but decided it was too good for just comics, had decided to take concept over character and add it to their identity politics.
Look, I don’t like discussing politics but to me this is an example of concept over character and that’s something I will protest, even if someone wanted to turn something I hate into something I like for no good reason. Everyone is allowed to have their own storytelling preferences and to have those preferences met. By using the hivemind to try to subvert that in order to push your personal sociopolitical agenda (again, whether I agree with it or not is not the issue) is only the reason why, but for me and the purposes of this site it could just be wanting to take something with a famous name and slap it on your “better” idea. See also Battlestar Galactica. It’s also not a question of story quality. You can tell good stories whether you’re (mis)using a famous name or not, but why not create something new and turn potential detractors into potential fans?
So how is CBR targeting Superman? Since they only see the concept they want to make him black, for no other reason than representation. I have two videos on this subject to show you along with my own thoughts on the matter. The first (which I warn you is a bit more vulgar than you usually see around here) is from Just Some Guy, who for the record happens to be black himself and does such a good job refuting his statements that the only difference between doing a BW Versus article and just posting this is we have different ways of making the same point. One of CBR’s points of reason, that a black-skinned Kryptonian should “obviously” be able to absorb more of that precious yellow sunlight that gives Superman his powers, was examined in the past by Comics Drake, so I’ll be including that as well. I do have points of my own to make so you’re not getting out of reading tonight.
You can see more of Just Some Guy on his YouTube channel. He also does the occasional artcast and a bunch of comic reviews.
For the record this works both ways. Black Panther should be a black man for example. Otherwise, just make a Phantom movie. As I’ve noted before, I’d like to finally see a redheaded Jimmy Olsen in live-action, when they’ve gotten him right in the cartoons. Of course to me there is no difference between skin color and hair color but we seem to enjoy dividing ourselves on the dumbest lack of logic we possibly can. Have to keep the hate train going somehow. The point is that they want to see the live-action version of their favorite comic, cartoon, and video game characters actually look and act like those characters. If you don’t want to do a story with those character, just go create new ones and make it good. Superheroes are big enough and popular enough that someone will give them a try, then tell everyone else through word of mouth and the internet whether or not it’s good.
Also, Black Panther is not the first superhero movie to feature a primarily black cast and star a black man, but The Meteor Man came out too early for this new mindset and M.A.N.T.I.S. was actually worsened when they tried to add white people to the mix between the TV movie pilot and the full series, which also had a weaker budget. Plus Lumby’s character wasn’t anti-guns so if this is sociopolitical reasoning they would hate him anyway.
If you really want a “black Superman”, some people point to Steel, but he’s more like a black Iron Man without the riches. (Iron Man’s popular. Why not try Steel again with a more accurate depiction?) What you really should do, and what I’ve advocated numerous times, is to make a movie based on Icon, the Milestone character still under license to DC as far as I know and that DC has done nothing with since bringing the Milestone universe into the proper DC Universe. Another Milestone character, Static, has enjoyed a decent amount of success since the Static Shock cartoon. Imagine if HE had a live-action movie. Not under the current DC mindset since even the CW DCU is a tad on the darker side and everything not Justice League Action, which Cartoon Network ruined, seems to be going that way, including the comics. However, a movie with Icon and Rocket would serve the political commentary the writer wanted. Icon stars the title hero, an immortal alien (or at least near-immortal) who landed on Earth during the time of slavery and made the mistake of assuming the form of a black man. Over the centuries he somehow amassed a fortune, started a company, and actually leaned conservative, which I’m sure Hollywood will “fix” like M*A*S*H*’s Hawkeye Pierce, while his more liberal-minded teenage sidekick Rocket talked him into using his powers and technology to fight crime. She even became pregnant at one point so you have a teenage woman of color with a baby. Tell me there isn’t anything in there that would make for a good movie and would give CBR’s false understanding on Superman a proper home. Heck, Black Panther himself is proof that you can make a new character popular. (“New” if you forget he was created by two Jewish men in the 1960s.)
For the record I care about Aquaman. I can tell they got him wrong. And I didn’t know Dean Cain was of Japanese decent because he looked enough like the part and could play Clark Kent and Superman well enough, like how the late Ricardo Montiban has played at least three different races besides his own. Also, there was an island of black Kryptonians for reasons. As far as that “science” that a black man would gain more power from a sun that Superman, I point to Comics Drake and his examination of this issue. The answer is not what the article writer thinks it is.
Catch more Comic Drake on his YouTube channel.
So in two out of three possible reasons the yellow sun works being black doesn’t benefit, one of those two would actually make it more difficult, and only in one reason does being black have any real benefit. Look, there are plenty of black superheroes to choose from and both Static and Black Panther, or even CW’s new Black Lightning, are proof that you can make one of them as popular as Superman. I even did an article listing a whole bunch of them that really should get some love. Let Superman fans have the character they want as they know and love him. Give these other black heroes a chance to find an audience and it may even gain some of those Superman fans. Like I said, I want an Icon and Rocket movie, if it’s good, true to the characters, and not bogged down by identity politics or anything else that will derail the story. I actually like The Meteor Man and thought M.A.N.T.I.S. was better when it had an all-black cast.
They won’t think that way though. To them Superman isn’t interesting, and all they care about is that every story be what they want. I don’t care if it’s politics or an insistence that only their type of stories be made, the everything for meeeeeeeeeeeee crowd is still in full effect.