It’s obvious that plumb movie roles esp in the superhero or supervillian genre typically go to white men. For whatever reason Hollywood is afraid to put an African American in the lead role. (with the exception of Spawn – but that movie was weeeeeiiird). And there seems to be a perception that if you make an African American actor the villian that it may be percieved as racist. Yet they miss the fact that avoiding using an African American actor for that reason is just as bad. Michael Clarke Duncan in Daredevil is the only villian I can remember.
I remember growing up having the Talking Adventure Team Commander doll (yes I am man enough to call it a doll…the word “action figure” hadn’t been discovered). So imagine my surprise when the cartoon came out and the commander was WHITE. WTF?
Then comes the first Batman movie. Who played Asst DA Harvey Dent in that movie? Anyone? Anyone? Billy Dee Williams. For those not following along Harvey Dent is the guy that turns into Two Face. So what happens. Batman 3 comes out and Billy Dee is dissed for Tommy Lee Jones. So he is good enough to sell Colt 45 but not play a villian.
Since the era of the blaxploitation movies, the only time there seems to be a black hero is when there is a African American producer or director (Robert Townsend (Meteor Man) or Kenan Ivory Wayans (I’m Gonna Get you Sucka)) But even those remain in the comedy genre. And please don’t pull out Shaq in Steel.
Samuel L. Jackson seems to be the only guy who can get continuous work in the realm of hero movies.
- Die Hard with a Vengeance
- Star Wars (even though it wasn’t anything close to a main character)
- Unbreakable (even though it was a crappy movie)
- Snakes on a Plane
- Iron Man 1 and 2
I love every SLJ movie (except Unbreakable), but can’t we find some great AA actors who haven’t already been a leading man to star in some hero movies? Tobey Maguire and Christian Bale were tolling around in art house films and who ever heard of Brandon Routh before Superman (then again who has heard of him since).
Am I missing anything?