Trigger Warning: Some of the images pulled from comic books depict assault and violence towards women.
DC is celebrating the Joker next month with a plethora of variant covers devoted to him. The Joker, who by definition is a deranged, sinister and disturbed individual is shown on most of these covers the way he’s always been: scaring the shit out of somebody. One specifically that sparked a lot of outrage was where the Joker is cozied up to a frightened Batgirl for her cover. After a lot of people voiced their displeasure with the cover AND RECEIVED THREATS OF VIOLENCE FOR IT, the artist Rafael Albuquerque asked DC to pull the cover. Now of course, there’s the backlash to the backlash as many fans and creators are crying foul and constructing this as an evil feminist argument that ruins everything. Sigh.
Hard NOC Life emerges from its winter hibernation, and you can thank Michelle Rodriguez for that. After telling TMZ POCs need to “stop stealing white people’s superheroes,” the actress took to Facebook to say she meant POCs need to focus on creating their own stories.
I don’t usually, and don’t plan to be the guy that writes reactions to other columns. It’s kind of circular and masturbatory and rarely does the work of informing an audience, as opposed to finger pointing across the table at someone else doing the same thing you do. The issue of the diversity in comics seems to be taking on a larger life beyond simple media commentary, however. And we are always 72 hours away from the next event that brings this conversation into focus. For days (and continuing now) it was the topic of what Marvel and Sony should do with their respective versions of Spider-Man. Debates involving Peter Parker’s race, the likability of Miles Morales (or some saying he’s a C-level character), and just how white the MCU films still are currently, have hit the internet at breakneck speed. I contributed to that malaise as well.
The latest such “where we are in 2015 with race and pop culture” test came with the Michelle Rodriguez story over the weekend. Responding to TMZ about the rumors of her being cast for Green Lantern, she responded with the now infamous “stop stealing white people’s superheroes.” Well, as you can imagine, that led to someone Michelle Rodriguez pays, probably telling her how her message was going viral in the way you don’t want things to go viral, which led to her issuing an apology via her Facebook page. It was your garden variety “I’m sorry you’re offended, not sorry for saying something offensive” type of apology that gets passed out in Hollywood as frequently as gift bags at award shows.
In the history of comic book superhero movies, having a casting announcement be met with near-universal praise by the fickle fanboy community is a very rare occurrence. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever happened. From Keaton to Affleck, ScarJo to Gal Gadot, the nerd reflex is to cry foul — or at least raise a suspicious eyebrow — at Hollywood’s disrespect of comic book continuity. (And don’t even think about castingnon-white actors in any of these roles). Nine times out of ten, though, fanboy condemnation — at casting, say, a “vapid pretty boy” like Chris Evans as Captain America or a “gay cowboy” like Heath Ledger as the Joker — gives way to reluctant acceptance and eventually hyperbole over how perfect these actors are in their respective roles.
A few weeks ago, though, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finally revealed he will be playing Black Adam in a Shazam! movie, the internet reaction was entirely positive. It probably helped that this rumored casting had been gestating for nearly a decade. But while fans were celebrating The Rock as Black Adam, I had one question: who could possibly be (physically) big enough to play Shazam1?
At Black Nerd Problems, two types of people that will always appeal to us are: 1) those that “get it” when it comes to diversity and representation in our geekdom and 2) really smart individuals. Greg Pak is both of those. As the comic book writer responsible for Batman/Superman, Action Comics’ recent resurgence, the most heralded Incredible Hulk books in the last ten years and the first ongoing series for Storm, Pak has made a huge impact in the comic book world. But as we found out, there’s still a lot more beyond comics that make him such an interesting talent.
This interview could’ve been three times as long, but not wanting to keep the man from all this good work he’s involved in, we got to talk about the politician that never was, beating down superheroes, and I even snuck in a little bit of NBA talk.