Women's History Month is going out with a bang. Lupita Nyong’o just made history starring in Jordan Peele’s Us, whose $71 million-dollar box office opening weekend became the highest grossing film with a Black female lead in history. Obviously, Black women can kick ass and pack a theater.
Nyong'o's other record-breaking film, last year’s Black Panther, is the 9th highest grossing film of all time, the highest grossing film for a Black director, and a major influence to the culture. Yes, Chadwick Boseman was the lead of Black Panther, but without supporting characters Nakia (Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) there would have arguably been no film. Black Panther has proven that the world is more than ready for a Black woman superhero on the big screen.
The first woman-led superhero film Captain Marvel also premiered this month to global box office success. All of these successes should signal a change in Hollywood, that it's finally ready to cast more Black women as the lead in a movie, to craft superhero stories that center Black women. But Hollywood has a poor record of awarding Black box office and critically acclaimed talent; consider that it took five years after Nyong'o won her Oscar for her to get a lead role in a film. And while Captain Marvel is being touted as a win for women, as Hollywood makes it well known, ALL women are not treated equally.
With the array of Black women superheroes that already have made their mark in the Marvel and DC comic universes, there is no reason why the next major blockbuster film can’t be centered around one of these Black queens. In 2017, when Wonder Woman was in theaters, the story about her Black twin sister Nubia went viral on social media. According to the comics, Nubia was created from the same clay that Diana was made from, except her clay was Black. She was kidnapped at birth and was trained by the God of War to be a master in battle. Nubia even defeated her sister, Diana (white Wonder Woman) in combat and should actually be dubbed the true Wonder Woman. If this film was made, it would take DC to the next level in keeping up with its competitor Marvel.
Nubia isn’t the only character not fully utilized from the comics. There is also Monica Rambeau, who became Captain Marvel in the comics long before Carol Danvers. With the film Captain Marvel choosing to make Monica Rambeau an admirer of Carol Danvers rather than a predecessor of the name, Marvel fans have suggested the comic franchise is setting Monica up for a larger story in the MCU. That larger story shouldn’t be Carol Danvers’ sidekick or anyone else’s. Monica Rambeau deserves to star in her own story.
Vixen, also known as Mari McCabe, is the superhero who can access the abilities of any animal from the past or present. Growing up in the imaginary nation of Zambesi, M’Changa, Vixen lost her parents and moved to America where she became a model. On a trip back home to the motherland she discovered the family necklace known as the Tantu Totem, which is where she receives her animal powers. According to the comics, Vixen took part in both the Justice League as well as the Suicide Squad, fighting crime while also modeling on the side. We do get a taste of this character on the CW’s Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but there is still so much more that could be explored.
Yes, the million remakes and reboots show that Hollywood would rather risk boring and over-saturating their audience than to serve up something fresh and original that the audience is craving. But the numbers are in, and the powers that be will have no choice but to incorporate even more Black women into their storytelling. Black women of all ages need to visually see themselves as superheroes. With the power of the Black dollar as well as the major influence Black women already hold in our society any film sporting a Black woman superhero lead will surely be a hit at the box office. Now that Black women are aware of their buying power more than ever before, Hollywood needs to catch up and put a Black woman-led superhero film on the big screen very soon.