Cover Story | In the past decade or so the Marvel and DC Universes have created a different type of “comic” fan. Many of us who weren’t comic book enthusiasts growing up (and probably still aren’t) have taken interest in them because of their theatrical releases. From Iron Man in 2008 to Avengers: End Game in 2019 we unwittingly were dragged into this world of superheroes and villains. I remember how excited many people were in 2018 with the release of Black Panther (RIP Chadwick Boseman). Many Black people were excited to finally have representation in this new, extremely successful, genre of film. That got me to thinking: What took so long? So I started to investigate. And while looking through the archives (or Google) there may have been a couple in the 90’s that we overlooked.
Blade wasn’t marketed as a superhero movie or Blade (Wesley Snipes) as a superhero. It was a vampire movie, and he was a vampire slayer. He did have “superpowers” and fight villains, but this was attributed to his vampire ancestry and self-appointed “job” of a vampire slayer. But the movie wasn’t an original concept. It was derived from a character and comic book series in the 1970’s. The movie and subsequent films (Blade II and Blade: Trinity) did extremely well in theaters but was never recognized as part of the Marvel Universe that we have come to know.
I’m not sure how many of us saw the film in 1997 (it didn’t have the same commercial success as the Snipes trilogy) but its origins are from a comic book series also. Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) plays a Marine/CIA agent who gets murdered and set on fire by his own handlers from the clandestine agency. After he arrives in hell, one of the rulers makes an arrangement with him: agree to lead his armies in the upcoming armageddon war and Simmons can return to earth and see his fiancée. He agrees just to find out five years have passed, his wife and best friend are now married and he has become the surrogate father to Simmons’ child. After struggling between good and evil he ends up fighting actual demons attempting to turn him until he wins and decides to become a hero.
Of course, over the years there have been more Superman, Spiderman, Batman, etc. movies than I care to count. But the world has quickly become a smaller place with the prevalence of the internet in the everyday life of most people, and movies should reflect the diversity of it. There are plenty of other comic superheroes of all shades. Storm from the X-Men animated series is another example from the 90’s. With the recent success of Black Panther, hopefully, studios will diversify the superheroes they choose to portray on screen. The world has already shown that we are here for it.
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