Ever since I was a young kid, I liked dramatic tension
I saw you roll your eyes. Just then. You totally did. And for good reason. That's a pretty eye-roll worthy opening sentence to a blog. But let me explain first.
When I was a kid, there was always something about a hero that was in trouble, a villain that wasn't easily pigeonholed as evil, a protagonist that didn't have the world going for him, that always appealed to me. It's why I liked Garfield but hated Heathcliff, why Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny usually made me grind my teeth in frustration, but I had a soft spot for Daffy Duck and why Empire Strikes Back is still my all-time favorite movie. Sometimes, I think it's good to have the Villain win, just to show that he's not a paper tiger. What's the use of having a villain so easily distinguishable as evil that he can be destroyed by the heroic forces with no real thought to what MIGHT have been? It bored me at a young age, but I never really understood why.
These thoughts on heroes and villains and what not had been meandering around the vast, broken landscape of my mind when I was engaged in a conversation about the new Superman movie and my constant consternation (say THAT five times fast!) that nobody would cast Lex Luthor as a black man, like they innovative genius behind Superman: The Animated Series did. I was told that this would be a horrible idea because it would perpetuate the myth that Black = Evil in many peoples eyes. I wholeheartedly disagreed. Then the person said, if they wanted to shake things up, they'd make the black guy the hero and the white guy the villain. I didn't have to heart to tell my friend (who happens to be white) that this isn't really breaking the mold for many black people who consider THE MAN, that nefarious entity that controls everything from you lights getting shut off (irregardless of whether you paid the bill) to getting fired from you job for doing stupid shit like Xeroxing your bare ass and emailing it company wide, a fact of life.
But, as many meaningless conversations do, it got me thinking (I know, I know, OH CRAP, HERE HE GOES AGAIN...)
Is the world really ready for a Black Super Villain? In Mass Market?
The reason why I loved Lex Luthor from the animated series, was because he was Competent, Ruthless, Ambitious, Creative, Strong, Attractive, and HELL BENT ON WHOOPING SUPERMAN'S ASS. Think about that. Superman can see your cells divide from OUTER SPACE! His strength is LITERALLY EXPONENTIAL, meaning that the harder he strains, the stronger he gets! He could move the PLANET if he really wanted to. He ran THE FLASH down in a one on one race, a man who can vibrate his body into DIFFERENT DIMENSIOJNS. And this black man wants to kill him and is thwarted only by strategic plot designs cleverly placed by the hero-loving writers. Talk about go-getum!
Why do I want a black villain so bad? A black supervillain? Well, maybe it's because I'm tired of seeing black people portrayed as the feisty, do-it-my-way, bad-boy Cop, or the older, wiser, mentor to the young, do-it-my-way, bad boy (insert tired Hollywood cliché here). We've seen a Blackman as president (right before the world damn near got destroyed by an asteroid), as God (who appeared mostly as a Janitor, and was coincidentally Morgan Freeman), as a super hero of sorts (Blade anyone....I GUESS That counts right? Sort of? How about Xmen? Halle Berry?....maybe not...ugh..), plenty of wise cracking cops (from Will Smith, all the way back to Eddy Murphy and even before that I'm sure), and even a whack ass villain (Sam Jackson in Unbreakable...blech...) But a REAL super villain? One that would make you say, wow...that guy is badass....Like Darth Vader Badass? Badass enough where the story didn't have to be how the villain had been beaten down because he was black an now wanted to get revenge, or some crap like that. A real story. With a REAL VILLAIN, who's motivations are power, and greed, but has the skill and the temerity and conviction to actually carry out his threats, to the point where only a superhero could even THINK of stepping up. Where is THAT villain? If we were given that kind of villain, instead of the Matrixy Wise-woman, Morpheus crap we've been fed, would we say, HEY THERES A BLACK GUY WHO'S A VILLAIN!! Or HEY, THERE"S A KICKASS VILLAIN!! He's black too! I don't know
What do you think? Are we ready for a Black Super Villain? If so, what would you like him to be like? What would you want him (or her) to say, to do?
Have a great July 4th!
(and the Evil Negromancer)