We’re back with another round of casting, this time, we’re casting twelve guys in the respective roles of various superheroes for the now CW sophomore show Supergirl. Last time, we mentioned that while Supergirl did well to promote (white) feminism, it needed to share that with women of color. Feminism does mean equality, and not just for women but for men as well.
Although arguably, little by little, we’re starting to see more men of color as heroes, but honestly? The barrier-breaking could use a little help, and Supergirl is in the right position to super-punch right on through them. Though the show just announced it’s bringing on Superman next season, DC Comics has a range of wonderful heroes of color and it’s about time that we got to see them shine too.
Some of you might say that Supergirl already has men of color, and is, in fact, diverse with Mehcad Brooks’ James Olsen and David Harewood’s Hank Henshaw. Just ask yourself, though, if you’ve ever seen them in a scene together. Right off the top of your head without having to rewatch the entire season or google for the answer. You can’t, right? So basically they both serve to be your token black guy for any of their scenes with our leading ladies.
In similar fashion to my previous article, the actors featured are relatively known to practically unknown. Once again just as before, they don’t have to be made series regulars, although that would be nice. The list of twelve below is a list to help give the Supergirl showrunners an idea of who and what to look for when casting, and which characters would be more than ideal for a superhero show coming into its sophomore year.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank both Ali Adler and Greg Berlanti for taking the time out of their day to read this article. It means the world to me.
HARRY LENNIX AS JEFFERSON PIERCE
Black Lightning — Father to both Jennifer and Anissa Pierce, Jefferson’s history stretches all the way back to 1977. Created by writer Tony Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden, Jefferson was one of the first major African-American superheroes in DC Comics. In his publication history, Jefferson has not only been an Olympic Athlete but the Secretary of Education and has also been part of the International Olympic Committee. Lastly, Jefferson is also a teacher and while all of his other titles may be something to aspire to none of them are quite as important as the title of teacher and father. Jefferson has a long standing history with DC Comics and adding him to the cast of Supergirl would only strengthen the Girl of Steel’s connection to the broader DC Universe.
Harry Lennix — Some of you may recognize Harry from a few different television shows including The CW’s late Emily Owens M.D., Fox’s Dollhouse and 24, or perhaps more recently from NBC’s the Blacklist. Given that the role of Jefferson Pierce may be that of a guest star or even recurring based on Harry’s schedule. I believe he would be a perfect fit to play Jefferson Pierce. Not just from his well-built resume and gifted talent, but also the opportunity to act opposite both Lyndie Greenwood and Kat Graham. (Oh yes, I plan to cast with inter-connectivity to my previous article, you were warned). If we haven’t already gotten all feelsy with Harewood, Benoist, and Leigh? We’d get plenty more with Lennix, Greenwood, and Graham (think we could get a Pierce family show?) Jefferson Pierce is an iconic comic book character, and I firmly believe that Harry Lennix would deliver a more than iconic performance into the role. [Ed. note: Since the movies ignore The CW, we’ll also ignore the fact that Lennix is part of the DCEU.]
LEON ROBINSON AS JOHN HENRY IRONS
Steel — While we all know the story of John Henry, not everyone knows the story of John Henry Irons. John Henry Irons had tried to save a co-worker and in doing so, nearly fell to his death. Nearly, Henry was saved by Superman himself. After being rescued he asked Superman what he could do to repay him for saving him. Answer? “Make it a life worth saving.” Irons, who worked for AmerTek Industries at the time as a weapons engineer took this to heart. He was even there during the fatal battle between Superman and Doomsday, Irons did his best to try and help. When the rubble cleared the Man of Steel had fallen, and soon began the Reign of the Supermen. Donning his own Steel battle suit and hammer. John Henry Irons went to work and was eventually awarded his own solo series, where we meet his grandparents, sister-in-law and her five children including, Natasha. As an audience we have yet to see Steel in live action form on television, adding him to Supergirl’s roster not only makes a nod to the comic books. It also allows for further roots into the lore and brings a STEM man of color onto the screen.
Leon Robinson — While some of us are old enough to have recalled Shaquille O’Neal’s spin in the suit (See: Steel the Movie), we’re doing our best to forget it happened. Instead, let’s focus on the work of Leon Robinson who you might remember from Cool Runnings, and TV shows such as Oz, Crossing Jordan, and the Diary of a Single Mom. Leon Robinson’s eclectic resume demonstrates his versatility and a versatility that will most certain be required on the set of a show like Supergirl. I personally selected Leon after looking at pictures of him and Nichole Beharie (my choice for Natasha Irons) and proceeded to imagine some great moments of TV feels between the two. Not to mention the idea of having both Steels out in the field together working side by side with our beloved space family to kick some major tail, so my only question is: Why hasn’t this already been done?
GABRIEL CHAVARRIA AS JAIME REYES
Blue Beetle — Unlike Ted Kord or Dan Garret, Jaime’s powers were from an alien technology. Ted had no powers, he was simply another boy billionaire that fought crime in his spare time. Dan was an archaeologist who found a scarab and that is how he got his powers. Nevertheless, even with alien technology Jaime’s heart was and is that of the Blue Beetle. A young man from El Paso, Texas who doesn’t give up and is always trying to find a better way. Living up to the legacy left to him by both Dan and Ted, thus far Jaime has proven to be one of the most exciting young superheroes to read and watch. We don’t necessarily need Jaime to even be Blue Beetle although that would be really nice. Supergirl could add him as an agent of the DEO (much like his younger sister that was mentioned in my previous article). Either way adding Jaime Reyes to the ever growing roster of heroes would only help Supergirl on her way to empowering those watching her show.
Gabriel Chavarria — Some of you may remember him from Hillary Swank’s Freedom Writers, or Hulu’s original series East Los High where he plays Jacob Aguilar, one of the main characters of the show. The series has been renewed for a fourth season, although there’s no word on when filming will begin. Gabriel has also been featured in short films such as Aquarius, Sins of the Father, and Los. A practical unknown, it’s Gabriel’s looks that sold me. Closely resembling the Young Justice, version of Jaime Reyes. A man dedicated to his craft, Gabriel is an excellent fit to carry on a potential Blue Beetle franchise. Should the powers that be decide to deem it so.
TITUS MAKIN JR. AS KALDUR’AHM
Aqualad — Also known as Jackson Hyde (seriously, are all black dudes in DC either Jackson or Jefferson?), Kaldur — as he’s known to the rest of us who watched Young Justice on Cartoon Network — was the second to take on the name of Aqualad (the first was Garth). Kaldur is an Atlantean/Human hybrid (because just like D&D humans can breed with everything). In fact, Kaldur is the son of Black Manta (as far as the comics are concerned) on the television show, we know Kaldur to have been a citizen of Atlantis and that he developed his powers through study (you’re a Sorcerer Kaldur!). Bringing in Kaldur not only breathes new life into the character but also branches Supergirl out into the broader DC Universe.
Titus Makin Jr. — Or, Lukas Parnell from the CW’s late Star-Crossed, while the show may have been canceled in 2014. That hasn’t stopped Titus from taking over TV, those of you who are avid watchers of Pretty Little Lairs may recognize Titus as Clark Wilkins. He’s definitely not new to the teen drama scenes, casting Titus as Kaldur is a great catch. Not just because of his resume, but also for the potential to bring in another great franchise to the DC TV world. Also, for those of us who would LOVE to see a big musical episode of Super Legends of Flarrow. Titus Makin Jr., was also featured FOX’s (sometimes) beloved Glee as David. So don’t stop believing, if The CW’s going to prove to be smarter this coming television season than they were the last, they’ll see to casting their nets around Titus Makin Jr., as Aqualad.
HAAZ SLEIMAN AS SIMON BAZ
Green Lantern — Simon Baz is the fifth human to be called to wear the ring. He joins the ranks of John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan. What makes Simon unique is not just his background or race, but his approach to being a Green Lantern. In his most recent appearance in Green Lantern #1, it’s easy to see his by the books approach and it’s because of this I could see him and Alex having a few words on Supergirl. Given the landscape that is the CW world of DC Comics, this could quite easily change to have a better overall impact with the audience. Simon could (just like fellow Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz) be an agent of the DEO. Once more, who better to stick about a governmental agency that works to fight aliens than a future member of the Green Lantern Corps?
Haaz Sleiman — You may not know the name, but you know the face. Between Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and USA’s Covert Affairs. Haaz Sleiman has been around in television since the early ’00s, starting with FOX’s 24. Most recently Haaz was part of ABC’s late Of Kings and Prophets. Having sat and watched Haaz Sleiman in the TV movie Killing Jesus, wherein Haaz plays the titular role of Jesus himself. Yes, he played Jesus (worked out well for Jim Caviezel, don’t ya think?) I was definitely taken by his acting abilities. I feel more than confident that adding Haaz to the roster would only improve Supergirl’s show.
OMARI HARDWICK AS MAL DUNCAN
Vox — Before he was Vox, he was Guardian the second to bear the name. Mal was — and sometimes is — married to Karen Beecher (aka Bumblebee), other times they’re divorced. Romantic side alone, Mal Duncan took the mantle of Guardian from Jim Harper. If that name rings familiar for you, great. If not let’s just say Jim is Roy’s great-uncle of sorts. Although this mantle-taking wasn’t your lovey-dovey passing of the torch. Instead, Mal found the costume (along with a strength inducing exoskeleton) and went about super heroics. He’d later go on to fight Azrael (not the one on Gotham but the literal Angel of Death), and win. Mal was given Gabriel’s Horn (under the condition that he never lose another fight) and would go on take on the names of Herald/Hornblower. Just like most characters in the DCU, Mal would undergo retcon after retcon after reboot — they’ve seemed to dismiss his history as Guardian altogether and pipeline him straight into Herald and unto Vox (a unique take on Gabriel’s Horn as a voice box that creates sonic blasts AND opens up dimensional portals). There is a lot of history to play with here and the writing staff at Supergirl could choose to take any route with him, but ultimately by bringing him into the mythos. They would be solidifying the apparent Teen Titan mythology that has been Arrow’s bread and butter for the past three seasons. Creating a universal lore, and adding characters than can be shared between the shows can only help to further integrate Supergirl into her new home on the CW.
Omari Hardwick — Much like Logan Browning, Omari Hardwick was also a member of the PlayStation Network’s Powers. There he took on the role of James ‘Ghost’ St. Patrick and before playing St. Patrick, you might recognize Omari from BET’s Being Mary Jane where he played Andre Daniels. Not only is Omari tough enough (and fine as hell) to play Mal Duncan but he’s definitely got the acting talent to go with it. Our television screens would do well to have more of Omari Hardwick on them and seeing him in a costume like Guardian’s or Vox’s could only do the CW better. So, hey Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, et. al., why haven’t you hired Omari Hardwick yet? Omari as Mal Duncan is a sure-fire way to keep audiences of all types engaged. Oh and don’t look at me like that, have you seen Mehcad Brooks? Exactly, hush.
KAMAR DE LOS REYES AS JOSE DELGADO
Gangbuster — I am doing my best not to groan or give an eye roll here. Literally, I went digging into the bowels of DC Comics to find some male Latino representation that wasn’t Bane or Blue Beetle. So let’s get to it, Gangbuster — or Jose Delgado — grew up in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum (isn’t this where Jefferson teaches?) which if you couldn’t guess from the name is a really bad, crime-ridden part of the city. I mean who decides to name it Suicide Slum? Like that’ll attract investors, anyway… Jose teaches at the local high school (does he know Jefferson? He should know Jefferson). He eventually becomes something of a boxing mentor to Jerry White, Perry White’s son (who names these people?) and takes up the costumed identity of Gangbuster to deal with — you guessed it, gangs! — who pose a threat to the community. I really just hope we can make him like a former military guy or something. I mean Gangbuster? I’m not saying that it doesn’t have it’s obvious merits. Maybe the writing team at Supergirl can just make an in-joke about it. Oh, or — since they’re coming up with the Science Police he can be part of that? Yes, I like this better.
Kamar de Los Reyes — Those of you who watch Daytime Soaps may recognize him as Antonio Vega from One Life to Live (personally I preferred Passions and Days, but hey). Outside of Daytime TV, he’s appeared on the show such as Pretty Little Liars, Major Crimes, and even Castle. For all you gamers, you might recognize him from Call of Duty: Black Ops II as the face and voice of Raul Menendez. Kamar has been working in the business since 1988 (that’s longer than some of us have been alive), and would be joining a veteran crew. I’m also sure those of you who were able to see him on Daytime would gladly appreciate seeing him again on Primetime. With the right approach from the writers, Kamar as Jose Delgado could certainly hit a sweet spot that the CW is only just starting to grasp with Latino audiences.
OSRIC CHAU AS RYAN CHOI
Atom — The fourth mighty mite to bear the name, Ryan Choi is among the few Asian American heroes within the DC Universe. Created by Grant Morrison, Gail Simone, and John Byrne, Choi is a young physicist who travels to the United States after his mother passes, arriving at Ivy University to continue his post-doctorate work. Dr. Ryan Choi insists on living in the house of his predecessor Dr. Ray Palmer. You see, Ryan and Ray have been lifelong friends — pen pals, really. Ray, before he disappeared, bequeathed his legacy to Ryan who, holding that size-changing belt in his hand, sought to learn what exactly had happened to his mentor. Thus begins Ryan Choi’s time as the Atom and with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow keeping Dr. Ray Palmer, it’s quite feasible to have Ryan appear as someone who has kept correspondence with Ray, and perhaps even someone that the CW’s Ray Palmer may have confided in. This would give Supergirl a more tangible connection with the broader CW-verse as well as Legends of Tomorrow. Making for some very interesting team-ups, crossovers, and mentions.
Osric Chau — After spending four years on Supernatural as Kevin Tran, it’s time to see Osric Chau out of the shadows and in the light as Ryan Choi. Outside of Supernatural, Osric has also been part of Halo 4’s Forward Unto Dawn. A martial artist, stunt performer, and actor, Osric has a wide arrange of talents that would work well with Supergirl. Not taking into account his given familiarity with how the CW produces their television shows, Osric would be a shoe-in for the production and would be able to set the bar for how future actors take on the role of Ryan Choi in the live-action format.
BYRON JAMES AS VAL-ZOD
Superman — Only the second to ever bear the name, Val-Zod was made an orphan after the Kryptonian courts took his parents. How easily he could be integrated into Supergirl’s lore given that they’ve established Kara’s mother as something of a Justicar there on Krypton by just how ruthless she was in upholding their laws? Lois taught Val-Zod how to use his powers, and even told him that it was okay to be afraid. Maybe Lucy Lane could be the teacher in this instance? Val would eventually fight a brainwashed Superman or in this case Tyler Hoechlin’s Man of Steel. How about introducing Val-Zod as well? Val grew up on a capsule, he’s afraid of open spaces — hence the whole being told that’s okay to be scared — which seems like a huge lesson that we could all stand to learn from these days.
Byron James — Byron is practically unknown having only done a handful of shorts, and a few TV movies here and there. Making him the perfect candidate to become Val-Zod. He can not only carry out an entirely new franchise but also breathe new life into the role of the Man of Steel. Additionally, Byron has done work behind the camera as a producer and writer. Casting Byron would be beneficial to the production in more ways than one giving the CW another producer and writer to their name.
ANDREW STEWART-JONES AS CRISPUS ALLEN
Spectre — A long and storied history is exactly what the Spectre has. He’s been hosted by several different men, one of them was Crispus Allen, a cop — detective, to be exact — who transferred from Metropolis to Gotham PD. While there, he would be partnered up with detective Renee Montoya. The two would eventually come to track down the Black Spider, engage in a firefight which was conducted without waiting for backup. What should’ve been a straightforward Internal Affairs investigation wasn’t, all thanks to a tech by the name of Jim Corrigan, who most comic book connoisseurs will recognize as being the Spectre from the Golden Age — who was also seen/mentioned on NBC’s Constantine before its cancellation. At the same time, FOX’s Gotham thought to include Det. Allen on its roster for season one. Coincidence? Unfortunately, we have no idea what happened to him (or his partner for that matter) after episode nine of last season (Renee disappeared after episode eleven). Bringing the Spectre back as Detective Allen could allow for a bigger story to be played out and perhaps connect Gotham to the CWverse via Supergirl (flashbacks are a beautiful thing, folks). This also allows for a sense of continuity between both universes, but that’d require FOX to play nice right?
Andrew Stewart-Jones — Some of you may actually recall Andrew from FOX’s Gotham, or maybe from the CW’s Beauty and the Beast as Deputy Secretary Hill. Andrew’s also had roles on Minority Report, the Tomorrow People, and Blue Bloods. A dedicated and talented actor, bringing Andrew back as the Spectre would only help to solidify bonds with Gotham. Or, as the CW is so good at doing, it allows them tap into what Gotham has already presented but merge it with what DC Comics has for his character and rewrite the story. He’d be a great benefit to an already talented Supergirl cast, bringing an even stronger presence to their stage. Having already worked with the CW in the past, Andrew Stewart-Jones as the Spectre is a must.
LUC RODERIQUE AS JASON RUSCH
Firestorm — We all know who Firestorm is, but do you really know who he is? Jason Rusch who was portrayed by Luc during season one of The Flash. While he may have been written off without so much as a blink of an eye. Jason Rusch really is the Firestorm from DC Comics lore. And much like Jefferson Jackson (in fact, exactly like him) he was the second to merge with Professor Stein after Ronnie Raymond’s untimely death. Why Jason was killed off of the show is still beyond me; however, that isn’t to say that he isn’t alive somewhere else on another Earth. Serving in his rightful place as Firestorm instead being part of that one matrix known as the Deadstorm.
Luc Roderique — Jason Rusch (The Flash), Penn (The 100) and Sorento (Supernatural), you’ve probably seen Luc once or twice while watching various shows on the CW. Adding Luc to Supergirl is (continuing to beat the dead horse) just going to add another bond to the ever growing DC Comics world that the network has built and cultivated over the years. This allows them to actually play with some of Firestorm’s actual myths and even a chance to field some of his villains like Tokamak in a bigger way. This shouldn’t even be a hard decision for the network considering he’s already played the role once.
BRANDON T. JACKSON AS JAKE JORDAN
Manhattan Guardian — Hey, remember that super duper long thing about Vox earlier? Huzzah, here he is: Jake Jordan the next guy who took over the mantle of the Guardian/Manhattan Guardian. Whatever, see — this is a great way to do that whole legacy thing! Even if originally Jake Jordan was just a disgraced, unemployed police officer — who accidentally shot someone based on mistaken identity. Listen, if all the Caucasian male heroes get to have a redemption story, so does he. And it could fit very well into Supergirl’s narrative as someone from the DEO who may have gotten a little trigger happy. The editor of this tabloid newspaper put out an ad wanting to hire a Superhero/Reporter of sorts, and wouldn’t you know it — the editor bought the rights to this Guardian. He bought it from Project Cadmus! Sound familiar? I hope so. So many ways to integrate his story into the narrative, c’mon team Supergirl!
Brandon T. Jackson — Starting with the Hulu original Deadbeat, Brandon T. Jackson began to make a break into the industry. He’d later be featured on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman and on NBC’s late 2015 television program, Mr. Robinson. I’m not all that familiar with his work but having peeked at his demo reel. Brandon would be a terrific Manhattan Guardian. His depth and range would do well opposite of the Supergirl cast. Currently, Brandon will be featured in several films including; The Year of Spectacular Men, Get a Job, and Eloise.
Any of one of these characters/actors would be a fantastic addition. What I’m more concerned about is getting superheroes of color out on the screen. Far too often we’re sitting back and hearing about yet another Caucasian superhero. Meanwhile, the people who could really use a hero, don’t get one. Boys and young men of color need superheroes too and need to see them be independent characters with real agency. To do more than just be the support to someone else. Supergirl is in a position to be able to do that, to really show what feminism means. It means equality for everyone, and that those who identify as a male should not be afraid of that word. They should be proud to wear it to say that I am for gender equality.
When I was penning my last article, I kept thinking to myself. It’s great that I can present a list of lady superheroes of color. Because we sorely lack them, but so do the guys. They need heroes just as much as we do — and it sucks that like us, they’re only used to prop up that Caucasian lead. In an already crowded superhero world, it’d be nice if the crowd had a little more diversity and a little less tokenism.
It’d be nice to know that we actually mattered, that we aren’t just numbers for the ratings. That we’re not just a paycheck, and so this article and my previous article serve to remind you, to remind me, and them that there are superheroes of color. They do exist and they already have their own stories just waiting to be told.