“Spawn” broke new ground when it debuted in 1997—well before Marvel made comic superhero films one of Hollywood’s biggest cash cows. The live-action film, which featured Michael Jai White as its titular character, was the first superhero movie with a Black lead. “Spawn” comic creator Todd McFarlanerevisits the character for a new adaptation, toplined by Jamie Foxx.
Deadline reported yesterday (May 29) that the actor will portray Spawn and his alter-ego, ex-government assassin Al Simmons. McFarlane directs the new film, also called “Spawn,” from his own original script.
McFarlane told Deadline that he wrote the new iteration of Simmons with Foxx in mind after discussing it with him. “Jamie came to my office five years ago, and he had an idea about ‘Spawn’ and we talked about it,” McFarlane explained. “I never forgot him, and when I was writing this script, you sort of plug people in, and he was my visual guy and I never let go of him. When I got done and my agents and everybody was talking about what actor, I said, ‘I’m going to Jamie first, and until he says no, I don’t want to think about anyone else because I’ve never had anyone else in my head.’ Luckily, he hadn’t forgotten either. I said, ‘Hey, I’m back to talk about Spawn again,’ and he was like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Ava DuVernay is stepping into the superhero universe. The filmmaker has come on board to direct “New Gods” at Warner Bros. as part of the studio’s DC Extended Universe. “New Gods,” based on the DC Comics series of the same name, is aimed at creating a new universe of properties for the studio. Created and designed by Jack Kirby, the comic was first released in 1971.
The movie marks the second major superhero tentpole directed by a woman, following another DC property: Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”
DuVernay directed Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” becoming the first woman of color in Hollywood to helm a live-action film with a production budget of $100 million. The time-travel fantasy has grossed $42.2 million in its first six days in North America.
The New Gods are natives of the twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is an idyllic planet ruled by the Highfather, while Apokolips is a dystopia filled with machinery and fire pits ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. New Genesis and Apokolips call themselves gods, living outside of normal time and space in a realm known as the Fourth World.
Half a dozen “New Gods” series have been published following the original. The most recent, “The New 52,” was issued in 2011.
DuVernay also directed the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” and the civil-rights drama “Selma.” She is the creator and executive producer of the OWN series “Queen Sugar.”
“New Gods” would be a major addition to the DC Extended Universe, which Warner Bros. launched in 2013 to take advantage of the massive DC library and compete with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The DCEU launched with 2013’s “Man of Steel,” followed by “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Justice League,” which was the lowest grosser of the five titles, with $657.9 million worldwide.
“Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa, is the next title in the DC Extended Universe, set for release on Dec. 21. The studio is also moving ahead with a “Wonder Woman” sequel with Gal Gadot and director Jenkins returning. The pic hits theaters on Nov. 1, 2019.
In the wake of the box office under-performance of “Justice League,” Warner Bros. is re-organizing the DC film operations by promoting Walter Hamada to president of DC-based film production in an effort to exert more quality control over its big-screen efforts. Toby Emmerich, who was promoted in 2016 to president and chief content officer at Warner Bros., worked with Hamada at New Line, which he ran before moving over to the main studio.
The Dora Milaje and their black girl magic are being turned into a comic book series thanks to the enormous success of the Black Panthermovie. Now we’ll get a deeper look into the lives of the fierce women warriors holding things down in the world of Wakanda.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Entertainment has enlisted the help of Nigerian award winning writer Nnedi Okorafor to pen the tale of the all-female bodyguard who are the backbone of Wakanda and ferocious protectors of King T’Challa. Okorafor looks forward to bringing the story to life.
“I’m super excited about writing this storyline. Powerful disciplined African women with futuristic spears who faced their shortcomings and changed a nation? Oh heck yeah, I’m so there,” Okorafor told Vogue, which initially broke the news of the new series. “Fans of the Dora Milaje can look forward to seeing them out in the world beyond T’Challa and the Wakandan throne’s shadow. They’ll get to see the Dora Milaje come into their own, while teaming up with the unexpected.”
Okorafora says the storyline will center around the Dora Milaje’s life outside of the Wakanda Kingdom. Can you imagine the kiss-ass ladies kicking it in Manhattan? The story will venture outside of Wakanda when a threat born in the African nation ends up surfacing in the New York City borough.
If you watched Black Panther then you were likely captivated by the strength and overall badass-ness of the all-women Wakandan army, Dora Milaje. What you may not know is that the five-women crew–led by Danai Gurira‘s character Okoye–is actually based on a real tribe of fighters known as the Dahomey Amazons.
There will be three stand-alone issues on newstatnds and in comic book stores: Wakanda Forever: Amazing Spider-Man, illustrated by Alberto Jimenez Albuerquerque, Wakanda Forever: X-Men and Wakanda Forever: Avengers.
The publisher, editor Will Moss said in a statement, “We’re lucky to have Nnedi on board for this — she’s an incredible novelist, and her recent Black Panther: Long Live the King digital series proved that she’s a great comic book writer too. She’s come up with a crazy-tough problem for the Dora Milaje to solve — but if anyone can, it’s these crazy-tough women.”
A black superhero family drama from Michael B. Jordan and Charles D. King’s MACRO is coming to Netflix. The streaming giant has greenlit Raising Dion for a 10-episode, straight-to-series order. It is based on Dennis Liu‘s viral short film of the same name, which revolves around a black mother who discovers her young son has multiple and constantly changing abilities.
Jordan will executive produce and also appear in the series in a supporting capacity. Veteran showrunner Carol Barbee is on board and wrote the Netflix adaptation and will serve as showrunner and will executive produce. Liu will direct and executive produce MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks are also executive producing along with Kenny Goodman and Michael Green. This is the first TV series order for MACRO.
The Netflix series will follow a woman named Nicole Reese, who raises her son Dion after the death of her husband Mark (Jordan). The normal dramas of raising a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat, and protect Dion from antagonists out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities.
According to THR, the show, which first began development in 2016, was retooled and tapped a new showrunner in Barbee after the success of Eleven on Netflix’s Stranger Things, so the shows would not overlap. At the end of 2016 it got back on track and Jordan joined the project in early 2017. Casting started in February, but as of now, Jordan is the only one attached to appear.
The original Raising Dion short film is below. A comic book companion was also released.
Diversity is on the uptick in comics-inspired TV and film. When “Luke Cage” exec producer Cheo Hodari Coker declared at his show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel last year, “The world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” the crowd erupted in cheers. So did the internet. “Right before I said it, I knew what I was feeling,” Coker later told Variety. “I had said variations of it during the day. It was coming from an emotional place, but I didn’t think it was going to reverberate the way that it did. But I’m glad that it did.”
The “Luke Cage” panel came in July on the heels of widespread protests sparked by the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. When the show premiered in September, it became the first live-action series about a black superhero since 1994’s “MANTIS.” Now it’s getting some company. Next season the CW will premiere “Black Lightning,” based on the DC Comics superhero. And next year Marvel will debut “Black Panther,” the studio’s first feature with a black hero in the lead.
Social, political and business trends have converged to put black superheroes at the centers of burgeoning television and film franchises after years of being relegated to supporting status. Dan Evans, VP of creative affairs at DC Entertainment, cites the emergence of black superheroes on-screen as part of a larger trend in television and film. “There’s so many examples now, from ‘24’ to ‘The Fast and the Furious’ to ‘Creed,’” says Evans, whose office door features an oversize image of Cyborg, the black teen hero who will play a key role in the upcoming “Justice League” movie. “We’ve seen again and again that if you tell a good story with these characters, people will come.”
In superhero comics, the first appeals to underserved minority audiences came with the debuts of Black Panther (1966), Luke Cage (1972), Black Lightning (1977) and others. “These black superheroes emerge parallel to the changes in American race relations in the late 1960s with the emergence of the Black Power movement,” says Adilifu Nama, author of “Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes.” The movement’s push for equality and representation rippled through popular culture. “It wouldn’t be very sensible to think that these demands for diversity would only be in the realm of lunch counters and bus transportation.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is known for creating innovative videos to inform applicants about when admissions decisions will be revealed. This year’s video featured Marvel Comics character Riri Williams—a African-American teenage superhero, highlighting the importance of representation.
This time around, the short film features Marvel Comics character Riri Williams — the teenage girl who briefly served as the new Iron Man before becoming the armored superhero Ironheart — as she studies at MIT, assembles her armored suit, and takes it for a test flight to deliver admissions letters. Titled “Not all heroes wear capes — but some carry tubes (Pi Day 2017),” the video references MIT’s tradition of sending out the admissions letters in tubes, and delivering them on March 14, a date also known as Pi Day.
In the video, MIT student Ayomide F. takes on the role of Williams, who was introduced in the May 2016 issue of Invincible Iron Man. A 15-year-old engineering prodigy attending MIT, Williams built her own suit of Iron Man armor from equipment she stole around campus and caught Tony Stark’s eye after apprehending a pair of escaped inmates while wearing the armor. In Marvel Comics lore, she eventually filled in for Tony when he became sick and took the name Ironheart as her superhero nickname.
Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain have joined the previously cast Cress Williams in The CW’s upcoming DC Comics pilot “Black Lightning.” Cress Williams plays the title role (real name Jefferson Pierce), while Williams and McClain have signed up to play his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce – one a 20-something, passionate and quick-witted, who balances the demands of medical school with her job teaching part-time at her father’s school; and the other is an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own.
In the DC comics, both daughters follow in their father’s footsteps and become superheroes themselves, known as Thunder and Lightning.
Initially set up at Fox TV, the Warner Bros/DC Comics project “Black Lightning” was moved to The CW, where it received an official pilot order. Fox put the project in turnaround after deciding not to proceed with a pilot. The move to The CW actually makes sense, as other Greg Berlanti superhero series (“The Flash” and “Supergirl”) are all currently at The CW. Recall “Supergirl” spent its first season on CBS, but it never really quite caught on with that network’s viewers, and so was shipped off to The CW.
Berlanti is collaborating with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil on the live-action series based on the Black Lightning superhero – one of the first major African American superheroes to appear in DC Comics.
DC Comics drama “Black Lightning,” from executive producers Mara Brock Akil and husband/producing partner, Salim Akil (“Girlfriends,” “The Game,” “Being Mary Jane”) has moved from Fox to The CW with a formal pilot order, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Greg Berlanti, who produces several other DC properties for the CW (“Supergirl”, “The Flash”, “Arrow”) is also executive producing the project.
“Black Lightning” was one of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes when it debuted in 1977 from creators Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. Should the drama move to series, it would be one of the first broadcast shows to feature an African-American superhero as its lead, joining Netflix drama “Luke Cage,” which hails from Marvel Comics.
The hourlong drama will center on Jefferson Pierce, who hung up his suit and his secret identity years ago. However, with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
“Black Lightning” marks the first pilot pickup to come from the Akils’ overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. It was originally set up at Fox in September following a multiple-network bidding war.
Ariell Johnson, the founder of Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, is the only Black woman to own a comics shop on the East Coast. Johnson opened Amalgam Comics to tremendous fanfare in January. Now, her important contributions to geek culture and entrepreneurship for women of color has been immortalized in the most appropriate way possible.
Johnson appears on a store-specific variant cover for Marvel’s “Invincible Iron Man #1,” enjoying a meal with another Black woman trailblazer: RiRi Williams, the new Iron Man. The comic goes on sale next month, with this alternate cover being available only at Amalgam.
Johnson told ABC News that her colleague Randy Green spearheaded the project. “When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details],” she said. “I knew what it was supposed to look like, but having the actual art in front of you is so much different. It’s really exciting.”
“When you are a person of color, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find someone you can identify with. I always felt like I was watching other people’s adventures,” she said to ABC News. Had she not been introduced to X-Men character Storm, she said, “I might have grown out of my love for [comics].”