When DC brought on famed author and essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates to write the script for its next crack at a Superman movie, it was widely assumed that the studio was exploring the idea of a Black Superman. Those assumptions are confirmed with a new story in the Hollywood Reporter about the early stages of a new era for America’s most iconic superhero. While casting is ongoing and a director has yet to be definitively chosen, the next Superman will be a Black man.
DC isn’t alone in this. Marvel’s Sam Wilson was recently promoted to Captain America and Marvel Studios is hard at work on a reboot of Blade, which will star Mahershala Ali as the superhero vampire slayer. Comic book movies are trying to diversify their largely white lineups but Superman is more than just a superhero. He’s an American icon, and this casting move speaks volumes about just how rapidly the mainstream has shifted since the era when most of these characters were introduced into the canon.
Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Regina King (One Night in Miami) and Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) are all apparently “of interest” to DC at the moment, and many of these same directors are also talking to Marvel about taking on Blade, which sort of speaks to just how small the pool of established Black directors is at the moment. Ryan Coogler is one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now, but is expected to be on Wakanda duty for the foreseeable future. In any case, the reports suggest that DC is interested in a big name director for the job who would work closely alongside producer J.J. Abrams.
As far as a star goes, it’s possible that DC will go for a smaller, less-known name. Superhero movies often go for younger, newer actors to helm big franchises, trusting the star power of the costume itself to handle the heavy lifting. It’s not yet clear when the movie will drop for sure, but Coates is expected to hand the script over later this year.