The news that Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan may be Superman barely touched me. We don’t need this, we need real progress.
Full disclosure (and pardon the pun), but I’m a Tolkien black guy. When I venture into Middle Earth, I see an established narrative: hobbits, elves, men who just happen to be white—I don’t see myself, but that’s fine. It’s established, it is of that world.
The news that Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan is reportedly under consideration to don Superman’s cape bristles me. Predominately because Clark Kent isn’t black. He’s a white dude from Krypton. That narrative has been established.
Now, I see the importance of representation, it should be pursued, and heralded. Black Panther proved that black superheroes are bankable. I get that. I would watch a thousand sequels to Black Panther over a black Superman reboot. It just seems … shallow.
— ComicBook NOW! (@ComicBookNOW) September 12, 2018
I understand the challenge, in that sticking to the narrative sounds an awful lot like “stay in your lane,” which sounds a lot like “separate, but equal,” all of which are hideous terms with an awful past, but we need to pick our battles. BlacKkKlansman illustrated the volume of ignorance, both in the KKK and the audience members who “got it”.
When harnessed, movies can change opinion where little else can, but this isn’t a move of great empathy, knowledge, or logic, it’s … nothing.
I’m not entirely sure it works. I feel the burn of white guilt, where any progress is seen as progress. It’s better than nothing. But not everything must be seen as an arena to wind back racial discrimination. A black Superman does nothing for me. In fact, I’d be suspicious of their motives if they were to follow through with it. I mean, after all, Black Panther dominated the box office. Squeezing Killmonger into Clark Kent’s glasses, print money. That only really helps the financiers. Now, I understand the importance of towering examples to follow, and a Superman that looks like me would have been a good thing. But it’s too late. We already have that. Wakanda Forever.
What made Black Panther so great was the trueness of its virtue. It was proudly black. It was an island upon itself, and it never broke that narrative. It wasn’t just a black guy in a costume, it was Wakanda.
It’s easy to be distracted. It’s easy to notice one part of the race issue and ignore the more important part. I’m no different. Earlier this week I covered the Serena Williams cartoon. It was important, but not as important as the lack of empathy/exposure shown to the two black boys that drowned in Western Australia. That was my mistake, but it’s ours too. It’s easy to become distracted and push for something that seems right. But we need to be wary of these diversions, because that’s were true progress goes to die.
We don’t need a black Superman, we need more black superheroes.