Superhero Movies and Race

This post may be a little serious. What sparked these thoughts are what I have read on the internet. There was an article about who should play the next Batman and among those there were suggested one was a black man. Again this question came up on Facebook and someone suggested that Batman could be played by a black actor. Some people did not think that was a good idea and that changing the race of an iconic character was only being done in the name of being politically correct. It was cited that change Nick Fury and Perry White to a black man was for politically correct reasons only.

It is an interesting topic to think about. Does not wanting to change the race of a character racist in itself? I really don’t think so. I tend to not want to view this topic in “all-or-nothing” categoires. I think there is room to change a character and then I think we also run into resistance not because of race as much as how people become attached to certain aspects of a character and race is one of those components.

Let me see if I can explain it this way. I am a huge fan of Godzilla. The 1998 movie changed the character so much that it no longer resembled Godzilla to the fans. I think this is the same issue with changing any iconic character. If you change to much the character begins to take on a new identity separate from the iconic character it is supposed to be portraying.

This happens when you even change a Superheroes costume. Sure, there is room for change but if you go too far fans will say that it is no longer the character. The new Man of Steel movie rremoved Superman’s red undies and many fans were outraged and cried foul! So people do have their limits.

I have them too. For instance, I would be alright with a black Batman, however I may not be so open to a black Superman. I would be open to it if the actor seemed to fit the role and the tone of the movie. I was fine when they cast Laurence Fishburne as Perry White thinking that was a great choice! Marvel Comics crreated a black teen Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and that was well recieved.

Now, all of what I have written doesn’t mean racism doesn’t occur because I think that it can be part of the reason why someone doesn’t want a character changed. Therefore it can be a touchy subject because not many people will want to admit that the motive behind a resistance to change can be racism.

Like all thinks in society these changes do have to happen slowly to allow people to adjust to these changes.


About liamfoley63

I was born in 1963 and that is relevant to my development of my love for science-fiction and fantasy movies, comic books, superheroes and many other things attributed to Nerd culture. In the 60s I watched all the Saturday afternoon Godzilla and monster movies I could take. In the 70s I became hooked on Star Trek. I am also an artist (in my own mind at least) and a musician. I enjoy learning about physics, astrophysics, chemistry and earth silences such as meteorology, anthropology, paleontology. When I reached my late 30s I began to re-explore my nerd roots. I reconnected with my love of science fiction and fantasy movies along with the other science related topics. For this blog I will focus on movie and TV reviews for science fiction and fantasy and post my thoughts on up coming movies. I will also include some fun facts from the various sciences I enjoy along with weather facts and bits from royalty and history. What I will not discuss is religion and politics. I am married to a beautiful woman named Sarah and have a lovely daughter named Danielle.

Posted on August 28, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The thing about race in America is that if you change the race of a character, you’re very often changing the character.

    Bruce Wayne is probably the whitest man alive, a crybaby from a background of American aristocracy that raised him to believe that being a corporate criminal who’s embezzled several billion dollars from his publicly held company is okay.

    Steve Rogers was an American propaganda icon in a racist time.

    By the same token, Nick Fury was a WWII hero who was given command over thousands of people and a multi-billion dollar war machine in the 1960s. His change to a black guy in the Ultimate universe necessitated a change in his character and the jettisoning of his Howling Commandos/immortal director SHIELD backstory, because the America of 1960 could not have accommodated that. Sam Jackson Nick Fury is fine, arguably even better; but he is not the same character as David Hasselhoff Nick Fury.

    On the other side, no one wants to see a white T’Challa, King of Wakanda. A WASP Erik Lensherr is likewise preposterous (although iirc he’s actually characterized as Roma now in the comics? I forget, but same difference insofar the Holocaust is the Holocaust).

    On the other hand, when you have characters where background is less of a factor or where the changes don’t affect it, go nuts. Peter Parker is the prime example of this. Lower middle-class Jewish kid from Brooklyn, lower middle-class black kid from Brooklyn, it really doesn’t matter. Clark Kent is probably the same, adopted son of smallholder farmers in Nowhere, Kansas, adopted son of smallholder farmers in Nowhere, Missouri. Also it would make more sense for a Kryptonian to be black. Those yellow rays don’t absorb themselves.

    Anyway, that’s what sometimes bothers me about changing race. Sometimes a character has to be a certain race in order to remain the same character.

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