Where are my Black (Super) Heroes and/or Villians?

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)
  • Shaft
  • Unbreakable (even though it was a crappy movie)
  • SWAT
  • Snakes on a Plane
  • Iron Man 1 and 2

And on top of that he has signed to 9 films with Marvel to play Nick Fury in future films including upcoming Thor and Avenger Movies.

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?

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  1. nursemyra says:

    Hmmm…. I don’t really go to action movies… more of an arthouse gal

    • Once had a conversation with the actor Malcolm McDowell and he asked me if there were any movie theaters in the area. I said, not really, there is only an art house theater. He said something like “Good, b/c that’s the only kind of movies that I can typically find work in”

  2. What about Will Smith in Hancock…does that count? I disagree on Unbreakable, I loved that movie and thought SLJ was great.

    • You are right. Will Smith has played the hero in several flicks including Hancock. Such a doob for not thinking of him initially. But again, megastar who you would expect to get these roles.

      My problem with Unbreakable was that it set itself up for a potentially really good sequel but b/c the first one wasn’t recieved well it never came.

  3. Such a good point and I am glad you made it. I hope this changes soon. I must say I am so sick of the same old boring story lines.

  4. WB DU…glad you are over the crud.

  5. you’re so racist for writing this.

  6. tannerleah says:

    I think it is because the black man, of which I occasionally am, is so heavily endowed that the tight pants can’t hold our junk in place. Plus, our well sculpted buns tend to rip out the back of the costumes.

    Oh, and Hollywood is racist (but we already knew that).

  7. George says:

    I believe Hollywood doesn’t feel that there are enough recognizable African-American superheroes out there that would draw in large audiences. If they did produce such a film, it would have to be led by an actor of mega-star quality who has already proven himself (or herself) at the box office.

    You also had Halle’s “Catwoman” (which I liked, even though it had nothing to do with DC continuity). I think a character will succeed if the book focuses on the hero himself and not his race (dude just happens to be Black, and not have that be part of his name).

    I believe that’s why Spawn works out so well because you’re not constantly reminded that it’s a Black comic or movie.

    • George I agree. I am not looking for them to change the race of an existing comic character or even promote a lesser known hero simply because of race. But avoiding black actors in the villian role (even in action movies not necessarily just superhero movies) In my GI Joe or Two Face examples, those were areas where the character wasn’t predefined by race yet it was another missed opportunity. Just my opinion.

  8. 🙂 We can’t win’em all anyways 🙂 one step at the time.

  9. George says:

    Oh, I ain’t mad at ya, BM. I’d like to see more of ’em, too. I get a lot of flack about “why isn’t your character, Hank, Black?”. My answer is that everyone would B&$^h and Moan about Hank being a typical juvenile delinquent with little regards to the importance of education if he was. They would say he was just another counter-culture, no-good thugling that was a bad influence to young, Black children everywhere. The world’s funny that way…. 🙂 Political correctness is gonna inhibit a lot of good projects.

  10. G says:

    Fascinating post about the lack of black (or AA, whichever term you wish to be used here) actors as leading men for action films.

    I never really paid much attention to action films must, but yeah, there is dearth of solid actors who could play lead roles (on both sides of the coin).

    It is what it is, and I don’t think it’s gonna change for the foreseeable future.

    BTW: nice blog.

  11. wallruss says:

    I think it’ll take a while to get Hollywood to make the change but it wouldn’t hurt for us to lead the way. Black people have been making Independent films for years and nowadays we can always look to the web. Have you seen Blokhedz?

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