Black Excellence

Should Superman Be Black? Some Say Yes!

black superman, superman was black, Micheal b jordan as superman, ellis superman

Black Superman? Some say it’s about time!

After Henry Cavill left his elevated role as the ‘Man of Steel,’ a new possibility popped up: should the next Superman be Black?

Most of us grew up watching the heart-pumping and intriguing stories of Superman.

After being sent to Earth in a small spaceship by his parents right before the destruction of Krypton, Superman landed in the American countryside. There, the Kents adopted and brought him up as Clark Kent. He learned he had some supernatural abilities, and you know the rest.

The Superman story originates from the 1930 era where being American, or a Superhero, meant being white, although it can’t be said that was the driving force behind it.

When the comic book was turned into the movie, Superman became an instant thriller. He is an embodiment of the American dream in a person: attractive, good natured, and can always save the day.

Well, some say, if all those qualities can be found in a person regardless of race, why can’t Superman be Black?  

Race and Superman

When Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (Illustrator) created the Superman story, they had a different picture in mind.  They set out to portray the experience of an immigrant kid. It was an embodiment of the American dream.

Superman is an immigrant to Earth. Even further, he’s an illegal immigrant.

Below the alien skin or cloth lie an immigrant and an everyday person who needs to rise above the struggles of life in America. He must blend into society, find happiness, and deal with the social stigma of being different.

Superman, at some point, was misunderstood, accused, but later loved by many.

Keeping that symbolism in mind, is there an argument for a non-white Superman? Absolutely.

The description of Superman being attractive, good natured, and heroic could have been a Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Laurence Fishbone, Michael B. Jordan, as much as it could have been a Henry Cavill.

A Superman is simply a character made whiter by choice of the cast as time passed. Whiteness is not necessarily part of his persona.

 

Is There Really a Black Superman?

In the history of the Superman series, two black Supermen have appeared in the comic series’ Final Crisis’. One of them is Calvin Ellis, the Kryptonian President of the United States. He is from Vathlo Island, based on his reference to Vathlo.

Ellis operates from the White House while Brainiac, a robotic that serves him as a personal computer, covers Ellis when he performs his duties as Superman.

Calvin Ellis was born Kalel to Jorel and Lara in Vathlo Island, the science capital of Krypton. He was sent to Earth to escape the destruction of Krypton and got rescued by the Ellis family. His new parents raised him to always fight for what is right, a path he stayed on to fight for the oppressed.

The character was born out of Barack Obama’s joke on TV that he was sent from Krypton to Earth by his father, Jor-El. Ellis became a part of Final Crisis #7. Writer Grant Morrison confirmed Barack Obama as the character of choice.

The other Black Superman was featured in Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths in February 1999. This Superman lives on Earth-D, a more ethnically diverse version of Earth-One heroes. This universe portrays modern multi-cultural sensibilities.

 

“Abar, the First Black Superman”

The movie, Abar- ‘The first black Superman,’ has no connection with the DC film. The VHS movie was a blaxploitation superhero film made in 1977. When it got released in 1990 on VHS, it was re-titled; ‘Your Face.’

The story revolves around a scientist’s father of a Black family undergoing persecution. When the family moved into a bigoted neighborhood, the father gave a superpower elixir to a bodyguard who turned into a super-powered crime fighter.

 

Science and the Black Superman

Even Science makes a case for a black superman. If you could recall, in the ‘Man of Steel,’ Superman’s dad, Jor-El, explains why Superman is different from other human species. Clearly, with the Sun younger and brighter on Earth than in Krypton, Superman’s cells have taken in so much of the Sun. Therefore, he is more potent, has tighter skin and more advanced senses than normal humans.

Is that melanin appreciation? I think so.

List of 10 Superman Actors over the Years

There have been at least ten persons who have played the role of Superman in history. They include:

  • Bud Collyer                         (1940-1951),
  • Kirk Alyn                              (1948 – 1950), 
  • George Reeves                     (1951-1958), 
  • Christopher Reeve              (1978 – 1987), 
  • Gerard Christopher           (1989-1991),
  • Dean Cain                            (1993-1997), 
  • Tom Welling                        (2001-2011), 
  • Brandon Routh                   (2006 and 2015), 
  • Henry Cavill                         (2013), 
  • Tyler Hoechlin                    (Supergirl;2016-2018).

 

All of these actors are white with no Superman being black except in the comics.

 Michael B. Jordan, Superman?

Recently, fans of Superman got talking about Michael B. Jordan as a potential replacement for Cavill Ellis.  Other argue that his appearance in other Superhero movies, like Black Panther, make him a complicated choice.

Jordan himself debunked the talks about his role as the black Superman. Although the idea sounds appealing for Jordan, you could say he was diplomatic with his responses.

In all its glory and for its worth, the Superman character does not represent a skin type. Such ideology only erodes the very fabric or foundation on which the American dream stands – truth, fairness, and liberty.

Micheal B. Jordan is just one of many that can easily fill this role.

On the other hand, those who are against the idea of a Black Superman argue that what is needed is not for a Black person to take a role that was traditionally white. It’s for Blacks to have their own roles created for them. They point to the success of Black Panther as an example. It was a world created for us not a world we had to turn Black.

Either way, I love where this conversation is headed. What I say yes to is more Black superheroes in general, Superman or not.

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Vwede Ohworho

Brings 10 years of journalism experience