Super Specific | Superhero Culture, Fandom Still Shows Racist Roots
Super Specific is a bi-weekly blog about pop culture superheroes.
‘Black Panther’ was the highest-grossing film of 2018 at the US box office. He was a cultural phenomenon, and in an industry where predominantly black actors are still a rare feat, his joyous celebration of African heritage and the wonders of science fiction was a treat to behold.
But despite the film’s popularity and the respectful meaning given to it after the tragic death of its star Chadwick Boseman, there were still plenty of people throwing racist vitriol around it and its stars.
Boseman posted an Instagram Live in April 2020 promoting a charity, but despite his desire to talk only about donations, many people watching were only focused on his looks – especially his weight loss important.
chadwick was called “Crack Panther” among other racial slurs, to the point that the actor disabled access to the video and continued to delete comments in the months that followed.
When Anthony Mackie Opened Up About His Hesitation Over Fans’ Excitement For The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “SamBucky” Ship in a Variety interviewhe fell under intense backlash fans.
And while his comments may not have been worded in the best way, Sebastian Stan didn’t. exactly been too favorable Nor is it to ship Marvel characters, and he’s still the franchise’s token fan favorite.
And actors like Chris Pratt, who seems to drop a conservative cringey instagram post every few days get support calls when someone on twitter says they’re not the best chris in hollywood.
The equity scale here seems rigged and based on race. In every nook and cranny of the fandom, whether it comes from the fans or the actors and producers behind the superhero movies themselves, there seems to be a bias against actors of color.
by Ray Fisher the situation with DC is a great example. He accused director Joss Whedon of abuse on the set of “Justice League,” and soon after, Warner Bros. canceled Fisher’s film and other appearances in the DC Extended Universe.
None of the other Justice League stars have had their storylines cut so abruptly. Despite the DCEU Fracture, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have movies on the horizon. Even recently following Whedon’s interview with vultureGal Gadot received more press attention for her response than Fisher – who continues to seek justice for the treatment of cast and crew members on set with its slogan A>E or “Responsibility over Entertainment”.
When photos of Anna Diop in a Starfire costume on DC’s “Titans” leaked in April 2018, many racist fans flocked to her social media accounts to harass her. She replied to these comments in a now-deleted Instagram post defending the leaked photo and its role.
In more intimate fan spaces, it seems clear that black superheroes are being sidelined.
“Black Lightning,” the CW superhero show based on the DC hero of the same name, is truly one of the CW’s only good shows, and certainly one of the best in its lackluster “Arrowverse.” The show contains a predominantly black and queer BIPOC cast love relationship between one of the protagonists, Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce.
But despite the show’s critical acclaim and praise for its diversity, it has gained little to no traction on fan spaces like Tumblr, Twitter, or Archive of Our Own. “Black Lightning” currently has 271 fanfiction works on AO3, 145 of which belong to the ship Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce “Thundergrace”.
It’s rather abysmal compared to the juggernaut superhero ships on the website like “Stucky,” between Steve Rogers or Captain America and Bucky Barnes, which in 2021 was the fourth most popular ship on the site with 55,252 works of fanfiction.
Some might say that there was simply a lack of interest in these black-led shows and movies, or that fans simply had a preference for Captain America or one of the CW’s lackluster white-led shows. But it’s clear to me that the superhero genre, which often dances with the sci-fi and fantasy genres, has a raging race problem.
One would think that in genres where the real world does not exist, or has been distorted beyond our imagination, there would be more diversity in their distributions. But the bastions of science fiction and fantasy on which today’s superheroes are based have racist roots.
Sometimes they’re subtle, and sometimes it’s hard not to throw the book across the room in frustration.
HP Lovecraft, an American author of the early 1900s whose works often revolved around old cosmic fish-like gods and dark New England ghost stories, influenced much of the science fiction genre. and horror that we know and love today.
He was undeniably and horribly racist and put such thoughts into his works. The protagonists of his story were always white, who were often at odds not only with otherworldly powers, but also with people of color portrayed almost as gruesome as the monsters themselves.
Curiously, “Lovecraft Country”, a show inspired by his works, was released on HBO Max in 2020. It was specially designed to highlight the black stories and experiences of its protagonists. It was a great show, until it was canceledtoo much.
Amazon Prime Video is set to release one of the most anticipated streaming shows of the year in November. “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is adapted from Tolkien’s unfinished masterpiece of mythology for his fantasy world: “The Silmarillion”.
And recently cast photos have been released — including pictures of Sophia Nomvete as the dwarf princess Disa and Ismael Cruz Córdova as the wood elf Arondir. The racists were quick to file a complaint on social media. God forbid there is a dark elf on their screen.
But it’s not all bad news. The fact that these actors are included in these shows and movies today shows an improvement. And as for Marvel and DC, their future slate of movies and shows like “Ms. Marvel” and “black adam” are promising for BIPOC prospects.
Will the racists run away? No, and they never will, but maybe one day there will be enough BIPOC representation out there that there is too much diverse content for them to complain.