by Aitch Cee
Like many fans of superhero movies, I was excited to hear Marvel Studios’ announcement on Tuesday. The one that I was most excited for however was not only was there a date set for a Black Panther and Captain Marvel movie but Black Panther already had their lead cast.
There was, however one comment, that came up in discussion about the Black Panther movie which was, “I honestly don’t see why they chose this character for his own movie over lots of other better characters in the Marvel Universe.” Granted, everyone has a right to their opinion but with this one comment, I can think of a few reasons why this and Captain Marvel need to happen and need to succeed.
The first reason is really academic. Think of how many movie series, super hero or no, have been successful without a white male lead. Of course the first that comes to mind is Blade and another that some may grab at is Tomb Raider. Truth be told, Tomb Raider was not really successful commercially or critically so actually if you want to look at a film series where ANY woman was the lead, you may have to go all the way back to Aliens. Even by that standard, we are talking nearly 20 years since the last one and then is you really want to slide one in, you can include the last Charlie’s Angels movie which then gives you 10 years. Of course, there is Hunger Games as well. Either way you look at it; there are very few high profile titles in the super hero genre coming out of Hollywood starring a woman or anyone non-white, getting a successful push. Even with the comment itself, one has to ask, what are these other better characters? Marvel has taken the majority of its staple characters and turned them into financial hits. Even with some of their character licenses in the hands of Sony and Fox, nearly all of the most recognizable of them have seen screen time so one must ask, who is left that is better than Black Panther?
The next reason is when you look at the comic industry especially when you look at the Big Two, there is still two huge issues to look at. The first is the simple fact that there are hardly any writers and artists of color and those who are women. I really shouldn’t have to say much more beyond that. So, really depending on how you look at these two movies coming out, it’s either Marvel and Disney throwing both sets of minorities in the comics industry a bone to get us to come out and support, or it may be a faint sign of change within the company that if you want support from all quarters, Captain America and Iron Man can’t always be the face of your company. Personally, I won’t hold my breath but I am hoping that with these movies coming, it’s a sign of them going in the right direction. The second issue is we are also talking about movies based on comics in which the comics have a rocky history with the company. There hasn’t been a Black Panther solo book on the shelf in nearly 5 years and I am also willing to bet that a lot of people, comic readers included, didn’t even realize that the last incarnation was a woman. Both T’Challa and Suri have been featured in many other books, mostly the Avengers but it’s been a long time without a solo title and one can only hope that with a movie announcement, that may change. On the other hand, Captain Marvel has fared decently even though, it has stopped and started a few times within the last 5 years and right now does have a current solo book out which is actually pretty good.
This is pretty much it. The comic and movie creators really need to realize, if in the process of changing a lot of their stories around to make them appealing to mass audiences, also should consider making movies that appeal to everyone also. With the announcement of these two movies, it’s looks like Marvel is going in that direction. Or, they are simply trying to counter DC who recently announced a Wonder Woman film and a possible Static Shock movie. It’s easy to see that you have characters that have been around for ages that deserve to have their movie told. I mean if you can take an iconic character that was cryogenically frozen and make his story a success, take a B list comic character with a lot of money and make him just as iconic, then why not take a character, who is king of his own country, yet barely used in the comics continuum and a woman military officer, who can hold her own just the same and put them on screen. This needs to be done in a comics corporate world where so few of both minorities have the opportunity to elevate these character regardless of the medium. Hopefully by the time these movies are released, both companies will realize the value that they have in non-white characters and step up in bringing in creators that with give characters like Wonder Woman, Monica Rambeau, Luke Cage, Storm (yes, thanks Greg Pak for not totally destroying Storm), Black Manta, Supergirl and so many others the proper voices that is so sorely needed. It’s time for this to happen and I am hoping also, that when these movies are released, these 2 characters get proper movies that are long past due, not just something that is lip service to shut segments of the population up.