Black Panther broke barriers when it became to first superhero film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. However, we have to acknowledge the Black superheroes that laid the groundwork for this to happen. We gave you our roundup of 12 actresses who would be perfect at playing Storm in future Marvel movies. Now, here are five characters that are vital to Black superhero history.
Long before Blade set the stage for further comic book adaptations, Spawn did it first. Born, Albert Francis "Al" Simmons, Spawn was a former Marine who is killed by his former friend and partner in the CIA. After being sent to hell, the former Marine makes a deal with the devil to sell his soul in order to see his wife again. Simmons then returns to normal life as a demonic creature with little to no memory of his past life prior to his murder. One of the first major superhero films featuring an African American character, Spawn crawled so that Blade could run. Despite its commercial and critical failure, there’s no denying that the superhero remains an icon in Black popular culture. Spawn was the subject of his own 1999 video game released for Game Boy Color and was adapted into an Emmy-winning HBO animated series. In 2018, it was announced that Jamie Foxx is slated to portray the character of Spawn in a reboot for Blumhouse Productions.
Let it be known that the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would not be possible without a superhero film starring a Black man in the lead role. Pretty much the first superhero film to be a commercial success as the box office, Blade is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Wesley Snipes’ film career, as well as his breakout role. A half human, half vampire hybrid who protects other humans from vampires, Blade’s complex character background laid the groundwork for many of our superhero heroes and villains, such as Magneto, Erik Killmonger and T’Challa.
Anyone who was a child during the mid-2000s had their first introduction to Bumblebee in the Cartoon Network show Teen Titans. Born Karen Beecher-Duncan, she is often regarded as DC Comics’ first Black female superhero character. As her alter ego, Duncan dons a high tech superhero battle suit that resembles a bumblebee. The suit gifts Duncan with the ability to create harmful hypersonic blasts mirror the sensation of bee stings. In Teen Titans, Bumblebee was a co-leader of Titans East, a sector of the Titans that consisted of Cyborg, Speedy, Mas y Menos and Aqualad. A live action introduction of Bumblebee in a live television adaption of Titans East would fit well on The CW or DC Universe’s lineup.
Long before Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfeiffer donned Catwoman’s sharp stilettos, Eartha Kitt shows everyone how it was done. The famed actress portrayed the femme fatale in the third and final season of Batman in 1967. Maybe sometime soon, there will be another worthy, live-adaptation of the character.
5. Mercedes “Misty” Knight
With the abrupt and stunning cancellation of the Netflix superhero show Luke Cage, viewers were seemingly denied their chances at seeing a spinoff of Misty Knight starring Simone Missick come to fruition. Born Mercedes Knight, this Marvel character was former NYPD officer who had her arm amputated following a bomb. Knight received a bionic prosthetic arm thanks to the tech genius of Tony Stark. She then teamed up with Colleen Wing to form the crime-fighting duo, Daughters Of a The Dragon. The fact that we have not had a live-action superhero show with a Black female lead is baffling and downright appalling. Twitter has been calling for a live-action series based on the Daughters Of The Dragon series, starring Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick for a minute now.