Marvel’s final Avengers trailer came out today, and outside of the usual things to look forward to in a summer blockbuster–bright effects, loud noises, and maybe even a good time at the movies–there’s one more matter-of-fact, understated benefit to this flick in particular: a black man in charge. It’s not that it hasn’t been done before on the big screen. It’s that it still doesn’t happen that often, especially in superhero flicks.
Video courtesy of YouTube.
Last summer, some of Hollywood’s biggest movies featured multi-ethnic casts, but barely–and black folks weren’t exactly “front and center” heroes in them. X-Men: First class included Edi Gathegi as a mutant on the titular team, but his role turns out to be much less than integral to the plot. Captain America brought in the likes of Derek Luke, who ended up only having one or two lines of any importance. Thor featured Idris Elba in a limited role, and one where the was certainly subordinate to heavier hitters in the plot. Green Lantern had zero black principals in it, only managing to get a black voice actor for one of the (minor) alien characters.
This year hasn’t fared much better so far. Chronicle, which featured Michael B. Jordan as a kid with superpowers, wasn’t treated with much reverence or investment. The Dark Knight Rises, as much as we may love it, will likely have the same kind of Morgan Freeman as the other films have allowed: brilliant and kind, but ultimately one on the sidelines of most of the film’s events (at least according to the trailers). The Amazing Spider-Man has no black people of note. G.I. Joe, if that counts as a superhero movie, does have Dwayne Johnson as its central character, which might be the only oasis of black leadership or centrism in the superhero movie pool after The Avengers opens.
All in all, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury could mean something for black representation in superhero films, or even blockbusters in general. And since his original movie deal included a 9-film commitment in his contract before The Avengers even began production, Jackson could be forming a new, if niche, frontier for the genre.