What if Dwayne Johnson Chooses Shazam?

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

Yes, my people, it is I, he who typically slams everything the DCU does with its movie franchises. But look, if this all but confirmed news that Dwayne Johnson will portray Shazam comes to fruition: I like this one. I really, really like this one. If we’re being 100% honest, I think the actor formerly known as the wrestler known as The Rock would be a great Black Adam. Besides the comically-not-really-him-CGI depiction in The Mummy Returns, have we really had Johnson play a villain?

If the news is to be believed, Johnson hasn’t decided which character he’ll portray, but the smart money is on Shazam, and I can’t blame him. As far as franchising, being a good guy on the Justice League is going to afford you many more opportunities in the franchise than a villain who might appear in one flick. But I digress. For the first time since Zack Snyder started signing off on costume designs, I actually like a casting choice for this Justice League universe without having to have seventeen think-pieces to convince me of it. Johnson has proven he can be heroic, goofy, lighthearted, and certainly looks the part of being a “superman-ish” hero.

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The Many Faces of Cyborg

Last night, the internet lit up with the news of yet another JLAer being added to the so-called Man of Steel sequel. Broadway star Ray Fisher has officially been cast to play Victor Stone (aka Cyborg) in the upcoming superhero epic, leading most fans to think “why doesn’t Warner Brothers just call this movie Justice League already?”

Cyborg was originally created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in a 1980 issue of DC Comics Presents. In the last several years, however, the character of Cyborg has seen somewhat of a rejuvenation in the DC multimedia landscape. A founding member of the Teen Titans in the comics, Cyborg has been a core component of several of DC’s animated enterprises and was promoted to mainstream status during the company-wide New 52 reboot in 2011. But his inclusion in a film as big as this one will be the biggest boost to the character’s profile yet.

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Why an African American Human Torch is Important, or Comic Fans are Kinda Racist

Originally posted at BadAzz Mofo

Wake up world, Black actor Michael B. Jordan has been cast as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. the Human Torch) in the upcoming reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. The hurricane of controversy, and all the requisite ridiculous and racist comments have begun, and will keep flowing, until, or course, the movie comes out, at which point people will go see it no matter how incensed or infuriated they are. And you know what? I don’t care if anyone is incensed, infuriated, or inconsolable about a Black actor being cast in a fictional role of a character that is known to be White. Really, honestly, and truly, I don’t care at all. That is not, however, going to stop me from addressing a few issues.

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The Human Torch is Being Played by a Black Guy. So What?!?

Originally posted at BadAzzMofo

Now that Black actor Michael B. Jordan has been officially cast as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. Human Torch) in the new Fantastic Four movie, all the negative crap has started to spew (again). We’ve all heard the crap before: “Johnny Storm is white!!! That’s Like casting a white actor as Martin Luther King, Jr!” Well, dumbass racist, it’s actually nothing like that. Johnny Storm is a fictional character. Martin Luther King Jr. being played by a white actor would like… well… it would be kind of like this…

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Is a Black Panther Movie Coming Soon?

It’s no secret that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty lilly-white since its inception. Aside from Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Don Cheadle as War Machine, the Marvel films heretofore have not featured very many heroes of color. That’s why so many Nerds of Color — including our very own Shawn Taylor whose advice on “How Not to Screw Up a Black Panther Film” is must reading, by the way — have been clamoring for a live action Black Panther for so long. Well, the rumor mill went into overdrive this week when Latino Review’s El Mayimbe sent out the following tweet:

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Stretching Spandex Over Melanin Won’t Make Comics More Diverse

thor the dark world posterSometimes being a Nerd of Color is difficult. Often, the sci-fi you watch marries awesome next-gen splatterpunk visuals with horrid White Man’s Burden political sentiments, or the games you play offer wickedly fun three-dimensional gameplay with healthy servings of amoral misogyny and racial epithets. But often it’s pretty easy – each and every Wednesday new worlds reveal the secrets of earthbound metahumans and iron-masked despots and immortal ronin and sentient bacteria and techno-organic telepaths and rubber geniuses and fighter pilots with imagination rings. The comic industry may not accurately render tomorrow, but it can always take you somewhere you never thought you could go.

But let’s admit, the price of the ticket is Whiteness. When most people close their eyes and imagine a Superhero, the vast majority envision a strapping White male, muscular and determined, with steely blue eyes and biceps that can curl Ford pickups. That’s the starting point. That’s what nearly a century of comic art imprints on the Western mind. Even as every other facet of the shared global experience publicly acknowledges non-European populations’ economic and political contributions, the American comic industry and its burgeoning film components routinely place the same pale Olympian specimens on the power fantasy as global hero altar. Millions of people pay to watch sweat bead under a stringy, half-braided blond mop while a bodybuilder bleeds under a scarlet cape, writhing in agony below an unforgiving world’s cloudy grey sky, the treachery of his wayward trickster brother foremost in his thoughts.

I watched two young women in the audience for a local showing of Thor: The Dark World. These portly, pockmarked brunettes guffawed at every tasteless joke, swooned with every Chris Hemsworth half-smile, and embraced the silence of attraction whenever Thor exposed his shirtless glory. You could pen a long treatise on the tyranny of conformity these images promote, you can YouTube a discussion on the irresponsible corporate socialization inherent in selling a film about a White male god who runs around planet Earth hammering foes into submission, but none of this will change the heady lust in those girls’ eyes. That gaze is uncritical of Thor’s geopolitical implications, his brazen sexism, even his indifference to high school physics. Hell, that gaze could care less that the movie sucked! Taut muscle, metallic spandex and Australian features sold admission. The obvious objective of Thor: The Dark World is capitalist: sell as many movie tickets and as much official memorabilia as possible. All of it — the sweaty masculinity, the computer-generated effects, the human deer impersonation Natalie Portman called acting, the annoying Kat Dennings camp – contributes to that objective. The end result was a terrible forced lobotomy of a movie, devoid of narrative coherence, enjoyable characters, and compelling visuals. Thor: The Dark World is, quite possibly, the worst thing Marvel has ever done.

And I can’t imagine what would improve about that film if they made Thor Black.

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I’m Sick of White Dudes

Back in May, when the news broke that Michael B. Jordan (star of The Wire and Fruitvale Station) was being considered for the role of Johnny Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, let’s just say the internet wasn’t too happy about it. At the time, my friend and former editor Justin Aclin tweeted about it and then wrote about it on his blog. I’ve cross-posted the rest of Justin’s thoughts after the jump.

And come back later in the day as Justin will be my special guest on Hard N.O.C. Life where we’ll discuss his latest book for Dark Horse, S.H.O.O.T. First.

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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Vitals: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is an 81-minute feature-length animated movie based on the major DCU crossover event called Flashpoint, which happened two years ago and was helmed by writer Geoff Johns that resulted in a universe-wide reboot called “The New 52.” It can serve as either a stand-alone movie, or a primer for those who want a quick recap of how “The New 52” came to be without having to read all of Flashpoint in collected trades.

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