Steel was always one of my faves as a teen, but without a dead Superman whats his backstory? Steel was the story of John Henry Irons, one of the world's three top genuises. He was working for the Army, in weapons development. As he became aware of massive corruption in the Army, he split, went into hiding, and began work as a construction worker. One day a coworker fell, and Henry caught him, falling himself. Superman flew by and rescued him. When Superman was killed by Doomsday, Henry Irons built an exoskeleton, much like Iron Man, incidentally, but with a very different look: he designed it to be Superman, with a big S on the front. He felt there should always be Superman in Metropolis. At that time there were three other people calling themselves Superman, flying around saving people. He was the one human among them. There was Superboy, a genetic replica-escapee teen.. There was a Kryptonian (The Eradicator) sent to aid Kal El/Clark in his Superman mission, but was rather brutal in doing so. Superman trapped him, but upon S's death he escaped, taking on Superman's duties, rather ruthlessly.. Finally there was a Cyborg Superman, who turned out to be Hank Henshaw, "the Villain behind it all," so to speak. Incidentally, Henshaw, whpo had worked for Lex Luthor, destroyed Coast City, Hal Jordan's home city, leading Hal to a depression in which he absorbs the Demonic energy Parralax, and reverses time, leading the universe to oblivion during the Zero Hour series.
It was this Parallax that is featured in the Green Lantern film from last year. Steel was instrumental in stopping Hank Henshaw from destroying the earth, and upon Superman's ressurection, he became a powerful ally of Supes. During the series "Reign of the Supermen," Henry Irons was considered the person who most embodied Superman's Character. There are some problematic aspects to his backstory, as the use of the John Henry Mythos is questionable, and the slave iconography of the big black man with a giant hammer is...definitely a modern slave icon. But on the other hand its also a modern Union Icon. Add to that, he basically takes on the military industrial complex, is the best designer of weaponry in the world, and uses it to fight the machine/system, and his weapon is a giant hammer. He's awesome. But without Superman dead, they'd have to reinvent some story. His story in coming out of Superman's death is iconic. Even Lois Lane is for a while convinced he has Superman's soul.
Other options for African American characters... or at this time should I suggest there should also be other heroes of color than simply white and black? Still, due to the Slave history in the states, and the dispossession of African diaspora, and the massive invasion to this day of Africa, I'd say that reperations to Africans and the African diaspora is a rather high priority. Since this blog is called NEWMYTHS, and it is my absolute assertion that life and art have a symbiotic relationship, our myths pull us to greatness, as we invent better myths, it is crucial not to repeat in our myths bullshit about women, and about people of color, and repeating slave iconography, etc etc etc. We ought to explore, at the highest level, really awesome archetypes of what human life COULD REALLY BE!
Back to heroes who could be African American: its rather traditional to have Martian Manhunter be black. But then its traditional to be racist too. The idea that the Martian... who appears to be a human is really an ugly green monster from Mars who can shapeshit ...is black, is virtually like saying: "This nice handsome "Afro-American" man seems to be okay. But he is in reality a ugly Black-ass monster whose shifty shapeshifting penis will elongate and rape your sweet white daughters - grab your pitchforks, they's gon' be a lynchin." So fuck that. Martian Manhunter ain't black. end of story. He can be Asian. The stereotypes of asians could really use some shattering, and this might just do the trick.
What if Flash were black? Well, this could be a big problem the way hollywood handles things. And believe me, some random ass character will be black. Just like Perry White in the new Superman movie is Laurence Fishburne. Everybody knows Zach Snyder is a racist and severely Misogynistic. His female characters always have prostitute make up, ALWAYS. I was raised in the Hood, and I know what a hoe looks like, I'm sorry. That shit is real right there. That wasn't always the case in films, and its not how things are in life. Transformers also uses that same method with blank female porn characters. If that alone doesn't make me angry enough, Snyder's rape scene in Watchmen is made to look attractive, hot even. Fuck that motherfucker. David Goyer, who writes for Man of Steel and has worked with all these guys, apparantly has some racism problems as well. So there is reason to believe there is reason to publish words about race and the Justice League. These are hero archetypes and I take them seriously.
Back to who could be who: If they choose The Flash to be African American, thats tricky. Flash is always speeding around all shifty and hitting on girls. They could get some minstrel actor like Brandon Jackson (look him up. The man has no shame), they'll totally have a bullshit new backstory for the flash, and make him all Superblaxx! Corny exploitation shit. The Earth needs that like a hole in the earth.
Aquaman...well they do that with aqualad in the Young Justice cartoon. Aquaman could be cool, but again, they'd go with the strong slave archetype. Anytime in film where you have a big strong black hero who sweats and yells and picks up something heavy and grimaces...just insert the word "slave icon" underneath and I guarantee you'll start doing a double take. It makes you think.
So John Stewart was by far the best Green Lantern with the most believable back story, wasn't a hot shot, was grounded, had depth, Wasn't suuuper burly, and came from not a corny or fucked up hood but a community. So basically with this b.s. Ryan Reynolds Hal Jordan version Green Lantern, there is what legitimate african american character in a coming Justice League Film? Ah, of course we have Hawkman and Hawkgirl. So, Hawkman if they go with the whole Egyptology thing, would make sense.
Okay, so now how about women of color. Wonder Woman makes the most sense. Wonder Woman really should be some sort of East Meets West unclear ethnicity but Dark, Powerful, and Physically she's massive, which they'll unlikely let happen in film. And I feel like Having a big strong black woman fits in with a stereotype that black people aren't human, they're super strong people who 'walk the earth still, somehow!' But in reality most women are physically a lot stronger than they end up being. The world trains us into these narrow boxes. Yes there are OFTEN differences but let those be authentic differences. In reality the differences between people of different backgrounds and genders are largely matters of force, religion and essentially are ways to control power. Let people be who they want. By forcing apart stereotypes people think differently about ourselves and who we can be. Human beings really do respond powerfully to suggestion. Everything about the method of the FBI and intel organizations is based on this very fact.
Hawkgirl is a good candidate, but unclear it will manifest. Supergirl makes sense to be of color, the back story could be that on Krypton people are like cats, and all colors are born of any family. They probably won't have supergirl though... although in the age of remakes, it could happen. Green Arrow could be of color, he'd be good. Basically I'd love it if they used film magic to create people that looked like no color we know, that could look like anybody. I will make these films. and do it at the industry standard.