Earlier this month, Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino publicly broke ties with the live-action Netflix adaptation of the Airbender series. The news was quickly followed by unverified rumors that Netflix is trying to “whitewash the series.”
The wait is over. Javicia Leslie will officially replace Ruby Rose as Batwoman when the show returns for its second season in 2021.
Traditional superhero comics have been part of the American pop culture firmament for eight decades. And more often than not, those stories can feel staid and mired in nostalgia for long bygone eras. Which is why creators who come along with bold new interpretations of these characters are usually met with resistance. To wit, when the book trailer for Gotham High — DC Comics’ latest foray into the young adult book market — debuted, the fanboy set went apoplectic.
Do you like podcasts? Do you like moody-snarky science fiction? Do you like The Nerds of Color (you’re here, after all)? Then please read further:
We’re pleased to announce our first fictional narrative podcast, co-produced by Hard NOC Media and Melancholyball Media. We’re casting voice talent and crewing up now and throughout August. Details are in the official casting announcement below. The series is slated to premiere in Fall/Winter of this year.
Watch out, Peter Parker!
There is a new romantic interest for Michelle aka “MJ” (Zendaya) in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
His name is Brad Davis and he is played by Australian actor, Remy Hii.
Back in April 2016, I helped launch the #whitewashedOUT hashtag alongside YA author Ellen Oh and a whole team of Asian American activists and authors. If you recall, the spring of 2016 was a rough time to be an Asian American consumer of pop culture.
After taking last year off, I’m happy to say that I’m heading back to San Diego for another Comic-Con International! As a result, The Nerds of Color will be attending and sponsoring a couple events throughout the weekend. I’m also on multiple panels for the first time! So check below for all the places you can catch me at Comic-Con this weekend!
It’s July, which means San Diego Comic-Con is just around the corner! This year, I’m making my triumphant return to San Diego, so stay tuned as we’ll be announcing various NOC-related events and gatherings all week. Just follow #SDNOC on twitter.
The superhero genre is slowly expanding its insular universe with Wonder Woman and the highly anticipated Black Panther. Though just a drop in the bucket compared to white male superheroes, such images can significantly impact audiences who have never seen themselves portrayed as (s)heroes. Recently at Comic-Con in San Diego, one Asian American girl, Ashley Keller, teared up when she met Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman) in a video that went viral, demonstrating the real-life impact of on-screen role models:
There’s a new fan movement in the works that is determined to get Ryan Potter cast as Tim Drake in the DCEU films. Who is Ryan Potter? Potter, 20, is a young half-Japanese actor who’s best known as the voice of Hiro from Disney’s Big Hero 6. A martial artist himself, Potter has quickly risen to be a fan-favorite choice for Tim Drake amongst DC fans. And it all started with a tweet.
Yesterday, the movie world was shocked (not really) to learn Daniel Craig had turned down a small fortune to return to the big screen as James Bond, leaving a 007-sized hole for the franchise. Of course, the most obvious successor to the Aston Martin is Idris Elba, preferably in a Christopher Nolan-directed 007. Unfortunately, he’s “too street” to be considered, whatever that means. (We know what that means). So why not give an Asian actor a license to kill? Thus, #AsianBond was born on twitter. It’s not like there isn’t a plethora of Asian Brits who could take the role. In fact, I came up with nine. The only caveat is that they all hail from the UK, so sorry John Cho.
Another week, another whitewashing controversy to unpack on Hard NOC Life. This time around, we welcome back NOC-favorite director Lexi Alexander and Shaun Lau from the podcast No, Totally! to break down Doctor Strange screenwriter Robert Cargill’s statements about why they whitewashed The Ancient One. They also chat about Keith’s New York Times op-ed and announce the new hashtag campaign #whitewashedOUT.
For this week’s edition of Hard NOC Life, we’re changing it up and focusing our attention on a genre that doesn’t get much attention on the site: musical theater! At a time when Hollywood still thinks it’s risky business to put people of color in their movies, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is literally poppin’ a squat on conventional wisdom, like it or not. With its company of African American, Latinx, and Asian American actors playing the men (and women) who founded our country, Hamilton is proof that diversity equals box office. Joining Keith to talk all things Ham, are super-fan Constance Gibbs, Hollywood Reporter Rebecca Sun, and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign.
It may feel like beating a dead horse, but I have some thoughts to share about the last seven days in Hollywood. It all started with the debut of the Doctor Strange trailer and our first look at Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One. That was quickly followed up with Paramount offering a sneak peek at Scarlett Johansson’s Major Motoko Kusanagi. (Even today, Lionsgate unveiled Elizabeth Banks as Power Ranger villain Rita Repulsa). Late last week, I posted the above photo on twitter as a joke about a Joy Luck Club remake.
This week’s reveals from Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell are further proof that it’s hard out there for an Asian actor who wants to be in a genre film. Fortunately, there are a few AAPI actors who have claim to the coveted “Nerd Grand Slam;” that is, they’ve starred in a superhero franchise, a Star (Trek or Wars) vehicle, and an epic fantasy. But who is the nerdiest? Dominic Mah, from YOMYOMF.com, joins Keith to decide which actor is the One Nerd to rule them all.
Before The CW was known as comic book superhero central, the network — when it was still The WB — had the reputation for the place to be for melodramatic teen soaps. Remember shows like One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven, and Gilmore Girls? In 2001, the debut of Smallville led to the network’s embrace of comic book-based properties that paved the way for more genre-focused shows like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The 100, and the current slate of DC Comics heroes. Next fall, The CW is merging the best of both worlds with Riverdale. By adapting the classic comic book Archie, the network will return to its teen soapy roots, this time with a twist. Even better? They’re doing so with one of the most diverse casts on network TV.
Hermione Granger means so much to so many girls, myself included. She’s smart and brave — the smartest witch of her age — and saved the world. She’s someone who prefers books to people (except a select few) and can be brass and bold at times when girls are usually told not to be. She’s a role model and a mirror. And because her race is never specified in the Harry Potter series, many girls around the world can picture someone who looks like them as her character. She was of course, cast as white in the Hollywood adaptations of the books — because Hollywood gonna Hollywood — but that doesn’t mean that she has to be white in all adaptations of the series. Buzzfeed already showed us the mounds of Hermione-as-black fanart that exists in the world. And now that dream that so many of us had is coming true.
Another casting announcement, another collective nerdy white boy meltdown. This time, they are directing their ire towards the rumblings that Idris Elba is “the frontrunner” for Roland Deschain in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s brilliant (well, except for books 5 and 6) The Dark Tower series. I won’t go into why I love the series or what it is about, but for those of you who are unfamiliar or want to know more, click here. Needless to say it is Stephen King, so the series is a masterwork of imagination, storytelling, and world building. I think folks were fancasting this series in the early ’80s, with Clint Eastwood being the near unanimous choice for Deschain. Back in the day, the choice was spot on. Hell, even King alluded to it. The only clear choice for Deschain is Viggo Mortensen, not Elba.
The news just broke that Scott Buck has been tapped to spearhead Iron Fist for Netflix and Marvel. This has led people to speculate that the show will cast a white lead despite the fact that the momentum for an Asian American Iron Fist is growing. Keith Chow begun the discussion over a year ago with his powerful op-ed on why having an Asian American play Danny Rand is so important. It was a piece that had a large impact on me, and many others such as Lexi Alexander and Gail Simone have taken up the call. Nerds of Color and MCU Exchange have teamed up to produce a series of articles providing suggestions not only how to adapt Iron Fist’s complex mythology but also arguing that an Asian American Iron Fist makes more sense not only for reasons of diversity, but for thematic and narrative reasons as well, and a few weeks ago Charles Pulliam-Moore of Fusion wrote forcefully that Iron Fist “better be Asian,” joining the chorus of voices who feel this is important. It’s a proper movement now.
Pop culture writers, whatever their chosen topic, write because they are passionate about the subject. First and foremost we’re fans, and we want to share our passion. But, like any writer, we also hope our words have an impact — that they will cause a reader to reflect, or think differently about something, or change their mind.
Keith Chow’s article on why we need an Asian American Iron Fist had that effect on me. Like many Marvel fans, I was very excited to see Iron Fist come to the screen. And like probably the majority of comics fans, I assumed the character would be a rich white guy. After all, that’s what he is the comics, right?
Now that the film has been released for over a week — with considerable box office success, trade publications like Deadline and Variety, among others have released articles about how the Asian American media watchdog group, MANAA, has followed Keith’s lead and declared the film to be guilty of whitewashing:
First things first: Pan — opening in U.S. theaters this weekend — is a colorful, action-packed PG-13 reimagining of the origins of Peter Pan and his relationships with and to Captain Hook, Tiger Lily, and Neverland as we know them through J.M. Barrie’s play and novel and their myriad subsequent Broadway, Disney, and Hollywood (re)interpretations.
My daughters, ages 11 and 6, enjoyed the film, and the 6-year-old, who often asks to leave the theater during intense or “scary” action sequences, made it through with only a bit of parental ear-covering during loud bits. The world-building and -design and the effects were beautiful and well-done, with visual call-backs to many fantasy, science fiction, and action films that parents will recognize fondly (the Mad Max films and Avatar being just an example) and original effects like giant bubbles of water containing aquatic life floating in the sky that I will remember for a while. But it’s the twists, and the questions and consequences they bring up, that I want to talk about now. So from here on in, SPOILERS AHEAD.