With Marvel Studios’ Black Panther to release in theaters this Friday I felt it was appropriate that we acknowledge the fact that this is a film that is going to hopefully send a ripple across the film industry and more specifically, the comic book movie sub-genre. I think that fans can believe that it’s critical, commercial, and audience success will influence Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures to greenlight more films or shows with a more diverse cast with leads who are black, Asian, or of the LGBTQ population in a time when representation for all of those populations is so low. As someone who definitely champions the idea of equal representation of everyone in Hollywood I strongly would like to issue my proposal for the top ten diverse heroes that could actually make for an interesting film.
As it was highlighted by films such as Ghost in The Shell and former Star Trek star George Takei, Asian Actors struggle with finding jobs within the film industry and Asian-Americans do not have a lot of widely successful heroes that they can look up to. I think with the proper writer and director Marvel Studios can make a film starring Cindy Moon/Silk work. Moon is a Korean-American who acquired her powers from a spider who moments before had been Peter Parker.
Storm is definitely a hero I would love to see get more attention in the sub-genre since I feel that 20th Century Fox has mishandled the character since the very beginning even if I am an avid supporter of their X-Men franchise. She is a strong, inspiring, and regal character that could inspire little African American girls all over the world that they can be strong and amount to anything if they put their minds to it. I would hope that if Marvel Studios does acquire the rights to the X-Men they consider re-casting her with an actress who can really bring something better to the role than that of Halle Berry or Alexandra Shipp.
Batwoman is perhaps one of the most recognizable LGBTQ characters in comics and within DC Comics’ large roster of characters. For those who are not quite aware of who Batwoman exactly is I would like to explain that she is Katherine Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin. Like Wonder Woman, Batwoman is someone with a military background and has on more than one occasion proven herself to be an effective character and a leadership. Most recently Katherine has been a major star in the re-numbered Detective Comics, where she has trained a team of heroes (or unlikely heroes) like Red Robin, Batwing, Spoiler, Signal, and even Clayface to protect Gotham City from threats like The Colony. The character stands to show the general public that the LGTBQ population aren’t “pansies” as some have tried to say of them. Additionally, this would be a way for DC/WB to rectify their past mistakes with the character such as cancelling one of her solo titles several years ago due to the backlash it had received because it featured a homosexual lead.
Sam Wilson, better known as The Falcon is already an established character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and one that I feel has somewhat been neglected within the films. Falcon was the first African-American superhero to make his way into the comics in 1969 after appearing in Captain America #117 and the first to not have “black” in his name. Marvel Comics utilized heroes such as Falcon as a way to support the Civil Rights Movement and combat issues such as gang violence (Wilson’s father was killed by gangs) and drug abuse (he was a drug dealer). He eventually turns his back on his criminal past by working with Captain America to take down the Red Skull. Afterwards, he would become a regular partner for the Star Spangled Avenger. Falcon made headlines within the comics in 2014 after assuming the mantle of Captain America once again. In all honesty, it was actually a seriously great comic that highlights that Falcon is not a hero you should underestimate. He’s as strong, dutiful, and inspirational as his mentor. A solo film with him as Falcon or Captain America would be amazing to see happen. Particularly since I actually am a huge fan of Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of the character.
In November 2013, Marvel Comics announced that they would be re-launching the brand-name of Ms. Marvel with a welcome but diverse twist. The title once held by Carol Danvers would be assumed by an American Muslim named Kamala Khan. While she was not the first American Muslim to debut in comics, she is still an inspiration to Muslims across the world and in America at a time when Islamophobia is a growing issue. Her solo book did not just feature her pummeling supervillains. It started a dialogue within the community about how the world perceives Islam and opened a window that explored conflicts that Kamala has with her faith, her home, and her family. As Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson said, “Her brother is extremely conservative, her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant, and her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.” These struggles, however, do not define her. Islam is only one part of who she is. I think that a Ms. Marvel film could send a beautiful message to a community that is so peaceful and hospitable but lives in fear. Muslim children could use someone like Kamala to give them some much needed confidence.
Simon Baz/Jessica Cruz
Green Lanterns is one of my favorite DC titles that is currently being published right now and one of the strongest examples of diversity mixed in with strong storytelling within comic books at the moment. Green Lanterns is a buddy-cop outing starring rookie Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz who were forcibly bonded together by Hal Jordan. Simon Baz is a Lebanese-American Green Lantern who grew up in the shadow of 9/11, which forced people to victimize him and judge him for his religious beliefs. This is something that consistently plagued him for a long time and it still does hence why he seeks redemption in this outing with his partner, Jessica Cruz. Jessica Cruz is a woman who like Simon is trying to reconcile with her own demons in the aftermath of her rampage as Power Ring, where she destroyed her hometown. Eventually, she was able to re-gain control of herself and was mentored by none other than Hal Jordan himself. This series also does have it’s heartfelt moments which provided for a lot of laughter and “d’aww” moments. How can you go wrong with a buddy-cop movie starring a Lebanese-American and a Latina?
Yes, I am aware that she has been a character in the Arrowverse and has her own solo cartoon character but I really feel like DC has somewhat neglected this character to the point her full potential is never realized. She is in some ways an answer to Marvel’s Storm or Black Panther. She is a strong, beautiful, and inspiring African woman who has some serious charm to her. You can definitely understand why the character’s occupation outside of being a costumed crime-fighter is modeling. She has had two solo comics, which were short-lived but I still enjoyed them as they shined a light on her troubled background as an orphan from a wartorn African country. Ironically, one of those solo comics was written by G. Willow Wilson who as I stated earlier is the creator of the groundbreaking Ms. Marvel title so if you take the concepts used to make both of these characters work then you are in business.
This is a rather obscure choice for a DC movie and one that can work with the proper direction. Batwing is Lucius Fox’s son, Luke. I first stumbled upon this character by watching Batman: Bad Blood, which is why I see a lot of potential for the character on top of the few comics I have read featuring him. I somewhat liken Luke to T’Challa in the sense that both characters have a certain struggle pertaining to their fathers. They live in the shadow of their parents and want to do something that will put them on their own track hence why Luke pursued a career in the military with several tours in Afghanistan. Something his father did not necessarily approve of and wanted him to pursue a career similar to that of his old man’s by working at Wayne Enterprises because of Luke’s background as a double major in Chemistry and Physics. This isn’t something he wants. He wants to find a different purpose. Eventually, Luke is forced to save his father and subsequently acquires an enhanced armor that his father designed to help save Batman from his captors. By the end of this whole fight he winds up joining Batman in his war on crime as Batwing. As a young African American who grew up not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps for one reason or other I think that a Batwing movie really could reach out to those young African American boys who have a lot of issues with their fathers which isn’t uncommon in the culture. It would give me a little more comfort as someone who always wants to push past the stigma of his parents.
Misty Knight/Colleen Wing
As someone who genuinely loved Luke Cage and even Iron Fist I think the two characters I really liked a lot were Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. These are two characters that are so pivotal to the story of their respective shows to the point you almost have to ask why a team-up show hasn’t been planned or greenlit for them as far we know. Misty is an intuitive African American detective who isn’t above getting her hands dirty whenever she deals with street thugs and has proven she can hold her own in a fight. The same can go for Colleen Wing, who by the end of Iron Fist learns that she shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for something or use her skills as a martial artist. It’s not exactly a bad idea considering that the two badasses did star in two team-up books, Heroes for Hire and Daughters of The Dragon.
These are some of the most diverse and interesting characters from across the two universes that would certainly make for the most ideal comic book movies in a sub-genre that always can improve in the way it represents people of unique backgrounds. A film using more of these characters potentially would be sending a message about how diversity is an incredible power for people to have if you’re willing to take risks and actually use it within the realm of film production. It’s not an unheard of idea at all since films like Blade and now Black Panther have implemented it and shown that it will pay off in spades when the audience, critics, and journalist rally behind you financially and review-wise.
What do you think of this list? What other diverse heroes do you want to see get a movie or show? Let us know in the comments section down below!