By Ethan Harmon
Okay, something has been bothering me as of late, and it has become more frustrating after the casting announcement on Fantastic Four. People cannot get over the fact that the Human Torch will be played by Michael B. Jordan, a black and very talented actor. For those who do not know, the Human Torch has been portrayed as a white male in the comics since, well, the comic was first printed. Now that an African American actor will be portraying the character, some people freaked out and reacted poorly, to say the least. Deal with it! Superheroes change.
I remember years ago, a certain, very famous superhero was slated for a reboot. That hero was none other than Spider-man. As casting rumors circulated, a special tweet exploded on Twitter. #DonaldForSpiderman was all over the place. Hell, I tweeted it often. Donald Glover, a multi-talented (and one of my personal favorite rappers/writers/comedians/actors) was slammed with this tweet, and a little bit of hatred. The simple fact that he was a black male was an issue to some due to the fact that Peter Parker was always portrayed as a white male. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to see Childish Gambino play the Amazing Spidey. Don’t get me wrong. Andrew Garfield did a wonderful job portraying my favorite superhero, but it would have been amazing to see Glover play the character.
Fast forward in time a little bit and Marvel killed off the Ultimate Universe version of Peter Parker. They replaced him with Miles Morales, a half African American, and half Hispanic teen. Again, the internet went on a rampage. “Spider-man can’t be black!” Of course the hatred was completely misplaced. Brian Bendis, the writer and creator of Ultimate Spider-man, poured heart and deep character development into Miles, allowing him to gradually evolve into one of the most interesting, fun, and well-rounded characters in comics. (Side note: Miles is one of my all-time favorite characters and Ultimate Spidey is a comic I never miss). People don’t complain about Miles or bring up race anymore. They simply buy the comic, read it, and geek out.
It is not only contained to the Human Torch and Spider-man. The rage has centered on Ms. Marvel and Green Lantern. During the end of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern, he introduced a new Green Lantern named Simon Baz. Simon was a Muslim, and a lot of the character development revolved around xenophobia and profiling. This rubbed some people the wrong way and upset others. But, if they gave it a chance, they would have found the best Green Lantern in comics, outside of John Stewart. Simon was a wonderful character who played an important role in the DC Universe. If only DC would bring him back. Marvel recently debuted the new Ms. Marvel, who is a young Muslim teen named Kamala Khan. And again, after the outrage, it became a complete hit.
But the outcry, for some damn reason, expanded to other areas. Marvel, who had a gay mutant superhero, released a special issue of Astonishing X-men. The issue made headlines, as people were weirdly confused and angry. Marvel published an issue that married their gay mutant, Northstar, with his long-time boyfriend. Looking at the other publishers from the Big Two, DC wrote the new Batwoman as a lesbian. The creative team behind the comic spent time and energy, and poured their hearts into crafting a wonderful story about the strong, intelligent Batwoman. The comic was controversial due to the sexual orientation of the hooded heroine, but it won over every comic book fan due to its superb story. Unfortunately, the comic suffered due to DC making a bad creative choice. The creative team wanted to have Batwoman marry her girlfriend, and DC denied it due to [insert BS excuse here].
Now, I feel that I have to say something after reading about these stupid rants over race and sexual orientation of superheroes. SHUT UP, get over yourselves! If you have a problem with it then move on. This is not the ‘50s. It’s pathetic and sad to still see people get caught up in race/sex issues, especially in comic books. First off, these characters are not real. The creators want to do something new, unique, and interesting to create new standards for comics and superheroes. It’s their decision. And roll with it! Comics and superheroes need change. Change is what keeps the industry, and the superheroes we all know and love, alive. It keeps it interesting. It keeps it fresh, fun, and wonderful.
Honestly, at this point, it is just disgusting to see people stoop to such a low level, even if it is something as trivial as the race or sexual orientation of a superhero. You don’t like the fact that the Human Torch is black? Watch the movie. As long as the actor portrays the Human Torch in a way that is enjoyable, isn’t that the only thing that matters? Don’t like a lesbian Batwoman? Read the comic and see what you are missing. It is about time that the issues of race and sex become a thing of the past. These issues need to be extinguished and put to rest for good. Look deep inside, understand that these hinder progress. Overcome whatever issues you may have. Realize that ignorance and unrelenting hatred does no good and move forward as a person. Accept change. It will always happen, whether it is in society or in comic books.