After decades of superhero films and tv shows, 2018 will give us something both rarely seen and long overdue: diverse superheroes.
In 2008, the MCU kicked off the modern comic book movie era with Iron Man. Since then, the most we ever really got in terms of diversity among our male leads was to not have one named Chris.
2018 is changing that, with the year being bookended by ass kicking, non-white male superhero leads.
Black Lightning kicked things off this January on the small screen, giving us the best debut ever in the DC TV universe and making us all want more from Cress Williams’ Jefferson Pierce — retired (?) middle-aged superhero/high school principal and his family. Seriously, if you’ve been waffling on whether to watch it or not, you absolutely should (it’s on the CW site/app right now!). If you still need more convincing, here are five reasons why you need to watch this show.
In February, after 18 movies and ten years of white superheroes, the MCU will finally give us the hero we’ve all been waiting to see on the big screen: Black Panther. The hype levels for this movie are through the roof, every single trailer looks ridiculously awesome and I can’t wait to see Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther rock his big screen debut.
In December, Marvel Animated will give us the Spiderman movie we should’ve gotten all along — you know, the one that stars Miles Morales as Spiderman — with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While we don’t know too much about the story, the trailer looks beautiful and I’m super amped to see a Spiderman story that doesn’t revolve around the 100th or so iteration of Peter Parker.
Finally, December will also give us Aquaman, as played by Jason Momoa. I’ve been waiting for this movie since that 1 minute blurry video Easter egg in Batman vs. Superman and only became more excited after all the Aquaman goodness in Justice League. I’m not just excited to see Jason Momoa kick a lot of ass (though I very much am), I’m likewise super pleased that Jason Momoa got cast at all. Arthur Curry has always been depicted as a blond, blue-eyed, white dude, and to see a brown-skinned, native Hawaiian play the king of Atlantis/protector of the seven seas instead is both incredibly powerful and incredibly exciting.
Super powered ladies
Black Panther may be the star of the show, but I’m almost equally excited to see more of Shuri, his younger sister. While not as popular or as well known as T’Challa, Shuri is a badass in her own right as one of the leading technological innovators for Wakanda. I’m incredibly excited to see her and all the other badass women of color in Black Panther — Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett — when it comes out in February.
Zazie Beetz does fantastic work in FX’s Atlanta and was the one bright spot in the otherwise bland Geostorm. In Deadpool, we’ll get to see her as Domino, a mercenary with mutant powers of luck manipulation who’ll likely be trading blows as well as barbs with Ryan Reynolds Deadpool and I cannot wait to see it.
Even though their dad is the titular character, Black Lightning looks to be as much of a family and ensemble drama as it is a superhero adventure story. Jefferson Pierce’s daughters — Annissa and Jennifer Pierce, played by Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain — will likewise spend the season grappling with their powers and how and whether to use them.
As a side note, in an ideal world, I’d have been able to write up something about a woc leading lady in this section as well. I’m glad that were finally going to get women of color who have super powers and kick ass as well as the guys, but I hope that next year, I’ll be able to write about some leading ladies as well as sidekicks and secondary characters.
This year, Hulu’s Runaways debuted a stellar and diverse cast of teens, while the CW worked to expand the diversity in Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow.
In 2018, we’ll continue to see teams cast with an eye towards diversity both on the small screen and in animated features.
Though we have yet to know the premiere date, we do know that Freeform will be bringing Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger to the small screen sometime in 2018. Aubrey Joseph will play Tyrone Johnson/Cloak, who is able to teleport and become intangible, while Olivia Holt will play Tandy Bowen/Dagger, who can create daggers out of light. The two teens will figure out how to fight crime while also figuring out their own feelings for one another and honestly it sounds like everything I’d want from a Freeform show. Here’s a sneak peak of it if it sounds like something that might be up your alley!
Gerard Way’s superhero series from Dark Horse comics has had a long road to development since it was released in 2007. The Eisner Award winning series was in development for seemingly ever (or maybe it just seemed that way because I was so excited for it) but is now officially set to premiere on Netflix sometime this year. The story follows a group of superpowered kids who reconnect as adults to investigate the mysterious death of the man who raised them. It features a stellar cast, two of whom are diverse actors in roles that have often been depicted — and could have easily gone — to white actors. One of my favorite original series coupled with diverse actors? Give us the premiere date already, you cowards!
While box office returns and critical acclaim generally bend in the MCU’s favor, there’s very little argument or doubt that the DC Animated Universe is heads and tails above Marvel Animated features in terms of quality and popularity. And while Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors probably won’t overturn that dynamic, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and a win for all comic book fans. The animated feature film will focus on the Marvel’s younger generation of heroes. It will premiere sometime in 2018 and feature such diverse heroes as Ms. Marvel and America Chavez, and voices from Ming-Na Wen and Tyler Posey.